Study Guide

Back to the Future George McFly (Crispin Glover)

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George McFly (Crispin Glover)


Oh, George McFly. Those glasses. That laugh. That hair.

George is… well, there's no nicer way to put it. He's a nerd. He could give Steve Urkel a run for his money.

But he's not your run-of-the-mill movie nerd. In most films, the nerd is either on the periphery, and is there purely as comic relief (Eugene in Grease, McLovin in Superbad) or else they're the protagonist, and the movie's all about them becoming less nerdy (The Princess Diaries, She's All That).

But George is in a class all his own. He's a major character, and he does go through a transformation, but he's not the focal point of the film and his overall objective is to win Lorraine's affection… not to trade in his horn-rimmed glasses for a leather jacket.

With the unique viewpoint that BTTF gives us, we're able to catch a glimpse of George back before he was full-blown geek. Here, we can see that he was already a bit of a pushover but there was still some hope for him. When he takes the glasses off and isn't stumbling all over his words, he doesn't come off half bad. Lorraine even thinks he's "cute 'n all."

To be sure, many of the teens who first fell in love with the movie identified with Marty as who they wanted to be, but identified with George as who they were. So to see that he could turn a corner and stand up for himself had to be encouraging.

Like Father, Like Son

Fathers and sons often share similar traits: similar hair or eye color, common interests, even particular mannerisms. But they usually stop shy of exactly mirroring one another's movements, or saying almost word-for-word what the other said 30 years before. George and Marty are definitely cut from the same genetic cloth.

It's a movie though, so it's allowed to take some liberties in the name of artistic license. In 1985 we hear Marty say, "What if I send in the tape and they don't like it? I mean, what if they say I'm no good? What if they say, 'Get outta here, kid, you got no future?' I just don't think I could take that kind of rejection."

And then, in 1955, George pipes up with, "What if they didn't like them? What if they told me I was no good?" and then a few seconds later, in reference to asking Lorraine to the dance, "What if she said 'no'? I don't know if I could take that kind of a rejection." Careful, guys. You're verging on plagiarism there.

Fortunately, this is comedy, so the blatant repetition comes across as quirky/funny rather than cheesy/awful.

But the resemblances aren't limited to turns of phrase and comparable hand gestures. These two are following pretty similar trajectories as well. They're both outcasts, in a sense, and have trouble fitting in or behaving like most of the other kids do. They both have big dreams but are afraid of being rejected, so they're attempting to overcome common obstacles.

Above all, they have a desire to prove themselves. Whether that means recording a rock album, getting published, or punching out your worst enemy and getting the girl… these guys are putting the world on notice.

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