12 movies to watch if you love 'Back to the Future'

·7 min read
Back to the Future
"Back to the Future" is all about time travel. Universal Pictures
  • "Back to the Future" is a beloved movie that's influenced sci-fi films for decades.

  • Fans may also love classics like "Ghostbusters" (1984) and "Some Kind of Wonderful (1987).

  • They might also enjoy time-bending new releases like "Palm Springs" (2020).

"Ghostbusters" (1984) set the tone for future sci-fi comedies.

"Ghostbusters" has been remade multiple times. Columbia Pictures

Summary: After a team of scientists (Harold Ramis, Dan Akroyd, and Bill Murray) lose their jobs at Columbia University, they take on a new recruit (Ernie Hudson) and become ghost hunters for hire.

Why you'll like it: "Back to the Future" effortlessly blends humor and high-concept storytelling with its tongue-in-cheek approach to time travel.

Similarly, "Ghostbusters" also walks a fine line by balancing comedy and horror in this sci-fi staple.

"ET: the Extra Terrestrial" (1982) also had a huge impact on the science-fiction genre.

"ET: the Extra Terrestrial" is a sci-fi classic. Universal Pictures

Summary: 10-year-old Elliott (Henry Thomas) discovers an alien in his small suburban neighborhood and soon realizes that they share an unbelievable connection.

Why you'll like it: Before earning an executive producer credit on "Back to the Future," Steven Spielberg had already made a name for himself in Hollywood by directing prolific films like "Jaws" (1975) and "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1981).

In "E.T.," Spielberg honed in on a more family-friendly approach to filmmaking, using imaginative storytelling to shape the science-fiction genre for decades.

Time travel means life or death in "See You Yesterday" (2019).

See You Yesterday
"See You Yesterday" was directed by Stefon Bristol. Netflix

Summary: After a tragedy unfolds, a pair of young prodigies — C.J. (Eden Duncan-Smith) and Sebastian (Danté Crichlow) — put their imperfect time-traveling technology to the test to save C.J.'s older brother.

Why you'll like it: "Back to the Future" sets up high stakes for its protagonist by tasking Marty with securing his own existence and the existence of his brother and sister.

"See You Yesterday" takes a similar premise and employs it with more gravity, while adding in nuanced layers of grief and racial injustice.

A weatherman repeats the same day over and over in "Groundhog Day" (1993).

groundhog day
Bill Murray stars in "Groundhog Day." Columbia Pictures

Summary: Weatherman Phil Connors (Murray) thinks his day couldn't get any worse when he's forced to cover Groundhog Day in the small town of Punxsutawney, until he wakes up and relives the same day all over again.

Why you'll like it: Both "Back to the Future" and "Groundhog Day" have long stood as touchstone pictures in the subgenre of time-travel movies.

Although "Back to the Future" is more of an action-adventure film, "Groundhog Day" is firmly rooted in humor and takes full advantage of Murray's unparalleled comedic timing.

Two wedding guests get stuck in a time loop in "Palm Springs" (2020).

palm springs
"Palm Springs" is a time-loop movie. Neon/Hulu

Summary: After being charmed by Nyles (Andy Samberg) at her sister's wedding, Sarah (Cristin Milioti) stumbles upon a mysterious vortex that causes them both to repeat the same day on an endless loop.

Why you'll like it: "Back to the Future" has inspired many time-travel films through the years, but many fail to live up to their potential.

Thankfully, "Palm Springs" is a fresh take on the premise and proves itself to be a genuinely funny film that also dwells on philosophical matters like what it means to be alive and who you should share that time with.

"About Time" (2013) is a more nuanced approach to time travel.

About Time
"About Time" is directed by Richard Curtis. Universal Pictures

Summary: As Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleeson) comes of age, he learns that the men in his family have the ability to time travel. With the power to reset a day in a snap, Tim finds his ability useful as he falls in love with Mary (Rachel McAdams).

Why you'll like it: In "Back to the Future" Marty plays matchmaker for his parents, but in "About Time" Tim uses time travel to find love for himself.

A sweet and sensitively written romantic comedy, "About Time" succeeds as both a time travel movie and a story about looking for the small joys in everyday life.

"Rebel Without A Cause" (1955) sheds light on teen angst in the 1950s.

rebel without a cause james dean
James Dean in "Rebel Without a Cause." Warner Bros.

Summary: When his family relocates to Los Angeles, Jim Stark (James Dean) finds friends and creates enemies at his new school, all while feeling like his parents will never understand him.

Why you'll like it: Marty is thrown for a loop in "Back to the Future" when he lands in 1955 and is thrown into a world of soda shops and slow dances at school functions.

Viewers looking for a more incisive look into the 1950s can find it in "Rebel Without A Cause," a quintessential movie that artfully captures the teen angst and aesthetics of the decade.

In "The Karate Kid" (1984) the new kid squares off against the school bully.

The Karate Kid Columbia Pictures
Self-respect is the key in this movie and "Back to the Future." Columbia Pictures

Summary: New kid in school Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) finds himself the target of local bullies when he moves to Southern California. To defend himself, Daniel seeks guidance from his neighbor, Mr. Miyagi (Noriyuki Morita).

Why you'll like it: In "Back to the Future," Marty (Michael J. Fox) is discouraged when he meets his father, George (Crispin Glover), as a teen and sees him cruelly ridiculed by the school bully, Biff (Thomas F. Wilson).

In the same way George learns to stand up to Biff, Daniel follows a similar character arc in "The Karate Kid" as Mr. Miyagi teaches him self-defense and the importance of self-respect.

Before he landed the role of Marty McFly, Fox starred in "Teen Wolf" (1985).

teen wolf michael j fox movie review 1985
Michael J. Fox in "Teen Wolf." Wolfkill/"Teen Wolf"

Summary: Average nerd Scott Howard (Fox) longs for popularity, but he gets more than he bargained for when he goes through a radical growth spurt and transforms into a werewolf.

Why you'll like it: In both "Teen Wolf" and "Back to the Future," Fox shines as a likable lead worth rooting for.

It may not be the most critically acclaimed movie of the 1980s, but "Teen Wolf" is a fun coming-of-age film that helped secure Fox's position as a rising star in Hollywood.

Lloyd memorably played Professor Plum in "Clue" (1985).

"Clue" has been remade a few times. Paramount

Summary: In "Clue," eclectic guests are blackmailed into attending a mysterious dinner party. After their host turns up dead, the guests turn on each other as they try to solve his death.

Why you'll like it: "Back to the Future" wouldn't be the same without Christopher Lloyd's wacky but brilliant turn as Doc Brown.

"Clue" was released the same year as the sci-fi favorite, and although it first flopped upon release, it later regained a second life as a cult classic and continues to reinforce Lloyd's status as a beloved comedian to this day.

Lea Thompson shined in "Some Kind of Wonderful" (1987).

eric stoltz some kind of wonderful
Eric Stoltz in "Some Kind of Wonderful." Paramount Pictures

Summary: Feeling out of his depths, Keith (Eric Stoltz) asks his best friend Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson) to help him land a date with Allison (Lea Thompson), unaware that Watts has her own crush on Keith.

Why you'll like it: Thompson memorably played Marty's mother Lorraine in "Back to the Future," but some fans may not know that Stoltz was also originally cast as Marty before being replaced by Fox.

After meeting on the set of "Back to the Future," Thompson and Stoltz would go on to act opposite each other in "Some Kind of Wonderful," where the cast shared remarkable chemistry.

Director Robert Zemeckis also helmed "Forrest Gump" (1994).

forrest gump
Tom Hanks in "Forrest Gump." Paramount

Summary: At a bus stop in Georgia, Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) recounts his remarkable life story to strangers, sharing everything from his service in the military to his lifelong love for Jenny (Robin Wright).

Why you'll like it: Years after directing "Back to the Future," filmmaker Zemeckis released "Forrest Gump," a critically acclaimed picture about an outsider with a unique perspective on the world.

In addition to both films sharing a love for sentiment and spectacle, sharp-eyed fans may spot Alan Silvestri's name in the end credits. The "Back to the Future" composer reunited with Zemeckis to collaborate on the score for "Forrest Gump."

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