Probably the most obvious similarity here is the fact that Christopher Lloyd is integral to both films. In Buckaroo Banzai, he’s John Bigboote. In Back to the Future, he’s Dr. Emmett Brown. Interestingly, his Buckaroo castmate John Lithgow was also considered for the part of Doc Brown.
This one’s a little bit more plot-specific. When our heroes find themselves in a sticky situation, there always seems to be a convenient way out in the form of a ladder falling from the sky to carry them away. It happens to Banzai with a ladder from a helicopter, and to Marty with a ladder from the flying DeLorean in BTTF Part II. and it happens to This sort of thing appears in action and adventure films all the time, but it’s worth noting when the two films share so many other similarities as it is.
Both of these films have very similar-sounding power sources that they rely on in order to travel around their respective sci-fi worlds. The two also allow for the films’ leads to defy logic and travel through space and time. For Buckaroo Banzai, it’s the overthruster. For Back to the Future, it’s the flux capacitor. They also have a similar read out of three lines emerging from a central point.
Another big similarity is the look and the ability of the respective vehicles. No matter if it’s a DeLorean or an equally-complex looking vehicle, the two films sure do know how to craft one-of-a-kind (or two-of-a-kind?) time travel devices.
Behind the scenes, Buckaroo Banzai and Back to the Future depended on producers Neil Canton and Dennis E. Jones throughout their day-to-day operations. It’s a bit surprising that the two would invest in such similar films, but I guess there’s no use reinventing the wheel or fixing what isn’t broken.