I’ve had a boldly, remorselessly contrarian week. I cursed the 70-degrees-and-sunny October weather for frustrating the just-completed biannual rotation of my short- and long-sleeved shirts. I waited until Wednesday (!) afternoon (!!!) to view the trailer for Star Wars: Ten Bucks Says They Kill Off Han Solo, then dismissed the franchise as “2.5 good movies out of six” and Princess Leia’s proto-feminism as “troubling.” And I went out of my way to root against the Cubs, their depression-masking lovable-loser persona and their poorly landscaped outfield fence.
Really: The Cubs have been run ineptly for a great percentage of the last 107 seasons, during which their fans have seemed content to slug beers in the bleachers and wave at Bill Murray. This makes them America’s Team how, exactly? I say this as a guy with no interest in the success or failure of the Mets, thanks to a father who threatened to sell me to the gypsies if my loyalties landed anywhere other than in the Bronx. Anyway, screw the Cubs… and while I’m being a jerk for the sake of being a jerk, screw deep-dish pizza (way to unleash Pizzeria Uno on our strip malls and LDL levels), Wilco (the final 12 minutes of “Less Than You Think” achieve a Bjork-ian level of self-indulgence) and Michigan Avenue (double-wide sidewalks = an engraved invitation for bicyclists to steamroll your toes and shih tzu).
If I’m this worked up over the Cubs, you can imagine how I feel about the rampaging, levee-overwhelming torrent of Back to the Future nostalgia that culminated in Wednesday’s celebration of the day to which Marty and Doc time-traveled in BTTF Part II. Did brands sense an opportunity for synergistic leverageization with this faux milestone? They sure did.
Toyota seems to have made the largest investment - and as a result, it’s the brand that will find itself in the crosshairs when the backlash hits (read: when it dawns on us that, as much love as we have in our hearts for the first BTTF, the second is obvious and punny in all the ways that the original is inventive and clever). Minus the benefit of that hindsight, Toyota pounced on the opportunity to station Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd in close physical proximity and saddle them with quips that vaguely approximate their BTTF banter.
The four-minute video, “Fueled by the Future,” commences in the den of a BTTF superfan, one who has posters on the wall and a guitar that resembles the one from the movie leaned up against the bookcase just so (continuing Video Critique’s obsession with guitar authenticity, I note here that the axe in the clip may have its brand name blurred out… but that it should be a Gibson ES-345 and it’s not and OH LORD SOMETHING ISN’T 1000% CORRECT ON THE INTERNET AND MY FAITH IN HUMANITY HAS CRUMBLED LIKE SO MANY STALE BREAKFAST CAKES).
We learn that the superfan is a guy whose career in science was spurred by his love for the movie, and that he’s about to meet with Fox and Lloyd to “show them an amazing piece of tech that might just inspire them… just like they inspired all of us.” Anybody else feel like stopping right here? Because if you did, you’d miss 25 seconds of Fox/Lloyd back-and-forth, airings of both “The Power of Love” and the soaring BTTF score, and callbacks to some of the film’s most iconic locations.
You’d also miss the ostensible point of the thing, which is to hype the futuristic fuel technology Toyota has developed for its Mirai model. Unfortunately, while I get the basic premise - it converts garbage into gold, metaphorically speaking - even the dumbed-down explanation will sound like an ancient dialect to science-dense nosepickers like me. What’s left, then, are the same BTTF images that we’ve seen in 30 other places this week and a non-DeLorean with the familiar OUTATIME license plate.
In other words, “Fueled by the Future” does more to promote BTTF Part II revisionism than it does Toyota’s technology. Sorry about that, Mr. Science Person. Hope you’ll at least get a cut of the profits from the inevitable Back to the Future Trilogy Master Cut 2015 Transfer With Bonus Featurettes In Which The Cast Reflects On The Last Time They Filmed Bonus Featurettes Blu-ray.