Whether we are talking about something like Back to the Future or One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, the best Christopher Lloyd movies are the ones where the three-time Primetime Emmy Award winning actor takes a character from the page of a screenplay and brings it to life in a way in which few can. Over the years, he’s played lovable and zany scientists, over-the-top villains, and unsettling characters that take audiences to the edge of their comfort zone before taking a few steps more, creating a collection of roles that still people discussing them all these years later.
Below is a sampling of the best Christopher Lloyd movies, why they should be remembered, and all the ways you can watch them whether it be for the first or 88th time….
The Back To The Future Movies (1985 - 1990)
When Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) is sent back to 1955 in an experimental time machine made out of a DeLorean, he must convince a younger version of his mad-scientist best friend Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) to find a way to generate enough power to send him Back to the Future.
Michael J. Fox gets a ton of credit for his performance here, and rightfully so, but as hard as it is to imagine anyone else playing Marty McFly (which you may recall was one-time the case), it’s equally as difficult to picture anyone but Christopher Lloyd and his unique look and comedic timing.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
Before Space Jam and even Cool World there was the 1988 animated/live-action hybrid classic Who Framed Roger Rabbit which follows curmudgeon detective Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) as he finds himself wrapped up in a sprawling scandal in the heart of Toontown while also striking up an unlikely partnership with the prime suspect: Roger Rabbit (Charles Fleischer).
Hot on Roger Rabbit’s tail throughout the movie is the villainous and appropriately named Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd), who will stop at absolutely nothing to destroy the unabashedly annoying animated character once and for all.
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
Randle Patrick McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) thinks he has come up with a brilliant way of getting out of a prison work detail when he puts on a mental illness in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, but the reality that awaits him under the “care” of Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher) is something far worse than he could ever imagine.
As he is subjected to all types of abuse — physical, mental, emotional — McMurphy finds a sense of camaraderie with his fellow patients, including iconic characters played by Danny DeVito, Will Sampson, and Christopher Lloyd as the belligerent Max Taber.
The 1985 whodunit classic Clue is far greater than it had any right to be, considering it was loosely based on a years-old board game and all. But this movie absolutely kills. When Mr. Boddy (Lee Ving) is murdered just moments after telling a group of dinner guests that he had been blackmailing them, it’s up to the ensemble cast to get to the bottom of this deadly and hilarious mystery. All the iconic characters from the board game are here, including Professor Plum, who is brought to life in spectacular fashion thanks to the styling of Christopher Lloyd.
The Addams Family (1991)
The 1991 adaptation of The Addams Family isn’t your standard revival of a long-dormant television property and instead is something that still fascinates audiences decades after its initial release. When a man claiming to be Gomez Addams’ (Raul Julia) long lost brother Fester (Christopher Lloyd), the patriarch of the kooky and spooky family does everything in his power to reconnect with his kin, even if there’s a chance he’s not the man he says he is.
DuckTales The Movie: Treasure Of The Lost Lamp (1990)
The 1990 critical darling yet box office under-performer DuckTales The Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp follows Huey, Dewey, Louie, and Scrooge McDuck as they attempt to track down and secure a valuable and powerful magical lamp before the evil sorcerer known as Merlock (Christopher Lloyd) can use it to carry out a diabolical plan.
Eight Men Out (1988)
The 1988 sports drama Eight Men Out tells the story of the infamous 1919 Chicago White Sox betting scandal, which resulted in the team throwing the World Series and eight of its players being banned from baseball. While the majority of the movie follows the disgruntled players (and their fans) whose lives were upended after they tried to find a way to make a decent living after their owner pulled all sorts of tricks to hold back bonuses, the story really kicks off with Bill Burns (Christopher Lloyd) and Bill Maharg (Richard Edson) convincing the players to take a dive, looking opportunistic in the process.
Mr. Mom (1983)
The 1983 comedy classic Mr. Mom follows Jack Butler (Michael Keaton), a recently fired Ford Motor Company engineer who becomes a stay-at-home dad after his wife, Caroline (Teri Garr), finds a new job before him. With someone as electric as Keaton in the lead role here, it’s easy to forget the other Ford employees who are fired alongside his character in the opening of the film, including Christopher Lloyd as the angered Larry who doesn’t take too fondly to the news of his sudden state of unemployment.
The Dream Team (1989)
The comedy The Dream Team is not about the 1992 U.S. Men’s Basketball Team but it doesn’t feature an all-star cast of ’80s stars including Michael Keaton, Christopher Lloyd, Peter Boyle, and Stephen Furst. When a trip to New York City ends with their doctor being hospitalized by a pair of corrupt cops, these four residents of a sanitarium are forced to find their way back home and survive life on the streets of the Big Apple.
Star Trek III: The Search For Spock (1984)
When he learns of a way that could possibly bring back his departed best friend, James Kirk (William Shatner) takes the Enterprise to the far reaches of space to reunite Spock’s (Leonard Nemoy) body and spirit, but his plan is made all the more complicated when a band of Klingons, led by Kruge (Christopher Lloyd) attempt to use the technology to create the ultimate weapon.
Christopher Lloyd’s portrayal of the zealous Klingon warrior, while maybe not as memorable as Ricardo Montalbán’s Khan, helps make for a formidable adversary for the heroic Captain Kirk on his mission to reunite with his closest friend.
Twenty Bucks (1993)
One of the best movies on Amazon Prime, the 1993 dark comedy Twenty Bucks has a pretty unique setup: the film follows the life of a $20 bill and all the lives in touches and connects. Told through a series of vignettes, audiences are introduced to unique and sometimes over-the-top characters played by Christopher Lloyd, Steve Buscemi, Brendan Fraser, Elisabeth Shue, and Linda Hunt, who interact with the bank note in a variety of ways, both good and bad.
I Am Not A Serial Killer (2016)
While trying to manage his own sociopathic and violent urges, John Wayne Cleaver (Max Records) stumbles across his neighbor, Bill Crowley (Christopher Lloyd) doing something that could implicate the seemingly harmless man in a series of grisly murders that are connected by the missing of the victims’ organs.
Interstate 60 (2002)
Written and directed by Bob Gale, the 2002 surrealist road trip comedy Interstate 60 tells the story of aspiring painter Neal Oliver (James Marsden) as he travels down a mysterious highway that can’t be found on any map after being pointed in the direction by an odd doctor named Ray (Christopher Lloyd). This bonkers yet pleasant movie features an outstanding cast of peculiar characters played by everyone from Gary Oldman to Michael J. Fox and Chris Cooper to Ann-Margret, with twists and turns around every corner.
The Onion Field (1979)
Christopher Lloyd only appears briefly as a jailhouse lawyer in the 1979 crime noir film The Onion Field, but this dark and moody drama is just too good to pass up. When the psychotic, manipulative, and dangerous Greg Powell (James Woods) panics after he and petty thief Jimmy Youngblood (Franklyn Seales) are pulled over in Los Angeles, he kidnaps two police detectives Karl Hettinger (John Savage) and Ian Campbell (Ted Danson), killing the latter in the process. What follows is a two-fold story that follows an emotionally wrecked Hettinger coming to terms with the violence and Powell conning his way out of a death sentence.
Dennis The Menace (1993)
Okay, the 1993 revival of Dennis the Menace is far from being one of the best movies on Netflix, but there are a lot of things going for it. There’s Walter Matthau, who is perfect as George Wilson, a lot of callbacks to the comic strip and black-and-white TV show, and most of all… Christopher Lloyd’s Switchblade Sam. Although frightening and disgusting (the way he sucks on his teeth), there’s something about the drifter that makes it to where you can’t look away, even when he’s slurping on room temperature beans or stealing apples from young children.
Taxi (1978 - 1983)
This last entry isn’t a movie, but you can’t have a list of the best Christopher Lloyd performances without at least mentioning the iconic sitcom Taxi, which earned the actor two Primetime Emmy Awards for his portrayal of Jim Ignatowski. Introduced as a guest star in the show’s freshman season, the character went on to become a fixture of Taxi through the duration of the show’s monumental run and is still considered by some to be one of the greatest television characters of all time.
The crazy thing about someone like Christopher Lloyd is that even though there are nearly 20 movies and shows on this list, it’s barely scratching the surface of his outstanding contributions to pop culture over the years. And with more promising 2021 new movie releases on the way, the legendary actor doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon.
Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop yelling at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.
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