Sleeper Celluloid: Real Reviews of Fake Movies

Twelve Years a Cyborg: A Review of Back to the Future Part V

Director/Producer: Robert Zemeckis; Cast: Christopher Lloyd, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Bobby Dean, Julianne Hough, Dennis Miller, and Michael Clarke Duncan Jr.

Get it down!
Get it, Brown!
Cram it in there,
Mister Brown!

This little ditty is rasped by a circle of slaves as John Brown, abolitionist, assists Dr. Emmet Brown, scientist and cousin from the future, as John attempts to insert a thermogenic bomb in an African American freedom fighter’s colon. Emmet, in one of his frequent action hero quips, mentions that there will be no bodies to lie “a moldin’ in the grave,” after Mister Cobble (the escaped slave whose insides house the weapon) detonates “the fucker” outside of the courthouse in Harper’s Ferry, Virginia. Mister Cobble (the aforementioned character, not the 6-0, 332 pound red shirt sophomore defensive tackle on the Kentucky Institute of Technology’s football team, who, upon learning of the existence of such a character in such a film declared that he totally wished he had a Delorean) then gives an Oscar-worthy speech about freedom, the human spirit, and his eviscerated mother’s potato farm in Torrington, Connecticut.

This scene raises several important questions. Does Robert Zemeckis have early onset Alzheimer’s? Do we live in such a moral vacuum that a montage depicting Harriet Tubman and Fredrick Douglass being reconstructed as slavery fighting cyborgs can be played for laughs? Is it possible this film was created for the express purpose of giving me, Kenneth E. Topper, film reviewer and crusader for artistic integrity, a fucking brain aneurism?

Here is what happened to me after I left the theater. My date, who, by the way, is actually named Emily Post, demands to be taken to a retro ice cream parlor. She is either disgusted or confused by the film, it is hard to tell which, yet is clearly afraid to speak because she is at least vaguely aware that I am a film reviewer. I found her on a Christian dating site I frequent even though I am not a Christian exactly. I use that site because I find the girls there tend to ask fewer questions and are impressed by vagaries. I choose to see BTTF 5 because I figured it would be innocuous. I didn’t think at the time that some Christians might consider time travel a form of evil magic. Also, I didn’t want a repeat of the Training Day incident. I took a larger yet still pretty-in-the-face girl to see the Fuqua and made the mistake of mentioning the time I smoked crank out of a coke can in Redondo Beach with some youths that worked at the T-shirt shop and the large girl, who moved quite well for a large girl, exclaimed she needed to buy deli meats for lunch the next day and took off her heels and ran.

I was drinking more then and I might have followed her for a while and yelled some. Anyway, since then I have developed a system for movie dates. No films with rape unless the rape is avenged by gun violence, no movies about the removal or discovery of a rogue penis, no films with bespectacled Jews. I tend to favor remakes of films or sequels of films that might have been beloved in the date’s childhood, and anything with blacks and whites working together to solve crimes.

Here is what she ordered at the parlor: orange sorbet. It makes no sense, I know, but at that point I did not level accusations because I thought that there’s still a chance I could make her see the worm. I have made exactly nine girls see the worm in the last sixteen months. I met four of them on the Christian dating site. Two had children so I am not sure they count.

I ordered a milkshake because when at an ice cream parlor , I sure as shit order product with some fucking lactose. She went on about her sorority, which served Christ and hot meals every other Sunday.  I thought for a moment about her ankle socks. I thought about my cat and the plastic pee protector on my bed. I imagine time travel, and attempted to conceive of a time in my life I would like to revisit.

If I were Jesus, this is how I would play it: I would return to earth in a darkened theater, and take a seat next to a girl in a skirt. I would use my magic to mesmerize her and then I would take her behind the handicap seats and worm it in. I would do it during the good stuff, the big releases. I would let one thirteen-year-old watch so he could have a role model. Then I would turn into a bat and disappear.


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Kenneth E Topper graduated from the University of Iowa in 1996 with a double major in journalism and dramaturgy. He was a chaplain for the Navy in Kandahar, and recently returned from Tanzania, where he consulted with the UNITCR to appropriate narratives of survivors of the genocide in Rwanda. His work has appeared in The Ammo and Pussy Quarterly Review ( and Harpers. He doesn't really like film.