Back to the Future Part II [Time Travel Week]

“Eat lead, slackers!”

The Scoop: 1989 G, directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Michael J Fox, Christopher Lloyd, and Elisabeth Shue

Tagline: Getting back was only the beginning.

Summary Capsule: Marty and Doc screw up both the future and the past… and race to correct their mistakes

Justin’s Rating: I liked it! So there!

Justin’s Review: While not the most beloved of the Back to the Future series, Part II introduced a vital element of our society as we know it: the hoverboard. Okay, so maybe these have yet to be made, but when they are hoverboards will be in great demand. I’m fairly sure the hoverboard has been responsible for the greatness in this last decade… think about it: the hoverboard is introduced in 1989, Communism falls in 1989! Coincidence? Yes, it is! I will shut up now!

Part II picks Marty back up in good old 1985 (even though now this is in the past, when the film was released). His girlfriend has morphed into Elisabeth Shue, and Doc’s back from the future where he drags Marty and Jennifer on a mission to save their kids. Considering that the only thing they would need to change the future would be to warn them in the present and, say, write themselves a post-it to remember to do something different 2015. Sort of how Marty wrote Doc a note in the first movie to change Doc’s future — which happened.

Now here’s the mind-bender: not only was it not necessary to go to 2015 to help Marty’s kids — they could’ve done that from the present — but by the end of Back to the Future Part III, [spoiler] Marty avoids the accident that would ruin his hand and cause him to be a loser in the future, which means his kids’ futures weren’t in danger, which means that any actions they did in the future in this second movie were irrelevant by the end of the third. Wow. That’s so deep, in a completely shallow way.

Anyway, while in 2015, Marty screws up and causes the entire chain of history to change. From there they go to an alternate 1985, then back to good old 1955. There’s a lot more psycho-time-babble to deal with, and I think this is where most people got turned off to this movie. I personally like this film a lot (the whole old west thing of the last film just doesn’t do it for me that much), mostly because it takes some fun liberties with the future and time travel itself.

Speaking of the future, 2015 is some sort of wacked-out update of the eighties… and I can’t wait to live in it! The prices are inflated beyond reason, cars fly, the weather is predictable, shoes have power laces, and we have the grand ol’ HOVERBOARDS! Ah, the hoverboard sequences, which become major plot points in the latter two BttF films. Michael J. Fox outdoes himself (and sets the stage for Mike Myers) by playing four roles: Marty McFly (both the 1985 and 2015 versions), Marty Jr., and Marlene McFly (his daughter!). Most of the laughs in the film are derived from the future sequence (my favorite? Café 80’s… don’t we have some of those?).

The alternate 1985 sequence (where Marty discovers how his mistake has impacted history) is much darker than any of the other parts of the series, but interesting nonetheless. Part II gets back on track in 1955, as Part II-Marty avoids Part I-Marty and saves the day yet again. But, really, who cares? As the Back to the Future series progresses, the crossovers continue en masse, including the café confrontation and all sorts of phrases. What’s good to see here is that the 1985 Doc Brown and Marty get to be a team for the first time, and Doc’s hysterical outbursts are well-suited to Marty’s… um… Michael J. Foxiness. And Einstein, love that dog!

It’s nice to see a bigger budget resulting in better props and special effects (the DeLorean can now fly!). As with the first film, Part II pays close attention to details, and gives you enough to watch again and again to explore. All the actors give superb performances, although Crispin Glover’s role was cut and some shmoe (Jeffrey Weissman, if you must know) makes a few cameos for him.

But in the end it’s kinda nice to see a time travel mystery in the middle of this great series, and the variety of time periods doesn’t hurt, either. It’s kind of like watching three short films in one, each as different as can be. The climax isn’t as finger-gripping as Part I or III, but it’s excusable seeing as how the film is mostly there to be the plot glue holding together the trilogy. Anyway… love it, like it, or tolerate it, Part II is utterly necessary. And it has…

HOVERBOARDS!
HOVERBOARDS!

HOVERBOARDS!

HOVERBOARDS!

HOVERBOARDS!

HOVERBOARDS!

HOVERBOARDS!

Face it. You've never been this cool.

Intermission!

  • Goldie Wilson is still mayor in 2015, and Goldie Wilson III is a car salesman
  • Wall graffiti says “Class of 16,” which we’ve nearly caught up to in the real world. Creepy.
  • Marquee for Jaws 19 say “This time it’s really really personal”
  • Also, Jaws19 was directed by “Max Spielberg”. Executive producer Steven Spielberg, who directed Jaws, has a son Max.
  • Marty Jr. asks for a “Pepsi Perfect”
  • 2015 Marty wears two ties
  • When Doc sees the future newspaper headline change to tell him that he was “commended” instead of “committed,” a headline at the bottom of the page changes from “Nixon seeks fifth term” to “Reagan seeks second term.”
  • When Marty arrives in 2015, he looks in the window of an antique store, where there is the jacket that he wore in 1985, a Roger Rabbit doll and a Jaws Nintendo game.
  • The actual score of Texas A&M versus Rice was 20-12, not 20-10.
  • Whoa! Jennifer’s changed into another person! George McFly too!
  • Perhaps it wasn’t the best of ideas to fly your car around and then launch into the future in BROAD DAYLIGHT in the middle of the SUBURBS. Just sayin’.
  • It’s odd that Marty has to ask “when are we?” when he’s got the time display right in front of him
  • Doc’s sleep machine looks like a mini-EKG reader from Ghostbusters
  • The automatic cafe server machine argues with itself.
  • Everyone should have sound effects machines on their vests
  • The USA Today that Marty and Doc reads has a couple funny items, including “Marshall Runs 3 Minute Mile”, “Slamball Playoffs Begin”, “President Says She’s Tired”, and “Washington Prepares for Queen Diana’s Visit”
  • The police officer has a scrolling LED display on her cap
  • Check out the Chapel O’ Love!
  • When you throw out your back, 9 out of 10 future doctor agree it’s best to hang upside down.
  • Marty’s house has an automatic greeting and an automatic dog walking machine
  • The Hydrator in Marty’s house is made by Black & Decker
  • Phone visors are cool.
  • They have a lot of faxes in the future, but no internet…
  • “The easy way” voice-over always strikes me as really odd
  • How does the hoverboard stay stuck to Marty’s foot when he’s lifted up into the air by the DeLorean?
  • I always think how cool it is that Doc Brown in 1885 used Western Union to send a message to the future
  • The sign in front of the Biff Tannen museum that says “Smoking Required”
  • The old man who wishes he had bet on the Cubbies is played by Charles Fleischer, who did Roger Rabbit’s voice.
  • In 2015, several cars from other sci-fi movies can be seen, including a Spinner from Blade Runner and the StarCar from The Last Starfighter. Other cars seen are (highly) modified Ford Probes and Mustangs, as well as concept cars.
  • In this movie there is a scene in which Doc Brown holds a conversation his 1955 counterpart (who is unaware of who he is talking to). During this scene Doc is wearing a brown trenchcoat and hat. If you look carefully in the first movie, you can see a man dressed exactly like this (and therefore, presumably Doc) walking away shortly before the clock-tower scene.
  • When Marty returns to 1985 from 2015 and goes into the house he thinks is his, a Dirty Dancing poster can be seen on the girl’s bedroom wall. That movie that wasn’t released until 1987 (at least not in our timeline).
  • Elisabeth Shue was cast as Jennifer, and all the closing shots of Back to the Future were reshot for the beginning of this film. Persistent rumours are that Claudia Wells (Jennifer in Back to the Future) was in no condition to act any more.
  • Crispin Glover played George McFly in Back to the Future, but was replaced by Jeffrey Weissman in Part II. Weissman was made up to look like Glover so that this film could incorporate excerpts from the original. Glover had not granted permission for the reuse of his scenes, and sued Steven Spielberg. The suit was settled, and the Screen Actors Guild introduced new rules about illicit use of actors. Crispen Glover made a lot of hefty requests to be back in the sequel, so the filmmakers declined to use him. Instead, his absence forced the filmmakers to be creative, hence the alternate 1985 where George is dead.
  • Filmed at the same time as Back to the Future Part 3.
  • In the five years since the original was made, Michael J. Fox had forgotten how to ride a skateboard.
  • The two police officers are named Reese and Foley, which are the names that director Robert Zemeckis and screenwriter Bob Gale use for any police or government agents in the films they have written.
  • Here’s a valid question: Why did Doc Brown need to drag Marty to the future? There really wasn’t a need to bring Marty to the future to help his son, since Marty could’ve enacted changes from the present (wrote himself to warn his son of danger on that date, etc). And how come Doc was all cool with Marty helping his son in the future, but wouldn’t tell Marty about his accident, which could’ve made his whole future better? And why is Doc so rushed to accomplish their mission when they get to the future? He could’ve arrived early enough to avoid the rush.
  • Another issue comes up with Biff’s rise to fame using the Sports Almanac. It might’ve worked a couple times, but since Biff skewed the timeline so off course with his actions, more than likely the effects would ripple out and change the games and events, rendering the book useless after a while.
  • An early script had Marty and Doc traveling back to the 1960’s, not the 50’s.
  • Old Biff staggering from the DeLorean after he stole it was always a confusion, but the DVD clears this up: “Our intention regarding Old Biff was that upon his return to 2015, he would be erased from existence, because he had changed his entire destiny by giving his younger self the Sports Almanac. (Probably, Lorraine shot him sometime around 1996!) After Old Biff clutches his chest and staggers (the same symptons Marty exhibited in Part 1 when he was beginning to be “erased”), we actually filmed him falling onto the street and vanishing, and we previewed the movie this way. However, the vast majority of the audience did not understand it, so we decided to cut it out, leaving the answer ambiguous and subject to various interpretations — including heart attack from the shock of time travel or flying the car, or from something that happened to him in 1955.”
  • Another interesting factoid about this movie is that it’s one of only two movies to date to have a trailer (for part 3) at the end of the film. This was possible because parts 2 and 3 were filmed back-to-back.
  • At one point where Biff is flipping through the Almanac, he reads the caption “Florida Marlins win 1997 World Series”. Naturally, he rolls his eyes, since the team did not exist at the time, BUT, as you know, the Florida Marlins were formed at some point, and they did win the world series in 1997! [Thanks to Patrick F.!]

Groovy Quotes

Doc Brown: All kids in the future wear their pants inside out.

Doc Brown: The time-traveling is just too dangerous. Better that I devote myself to study the other great mystery of the universe: women!

Marty: There he is, Doc! Let’s land on him, we’ll cripple his car.
Doc: Marty, he’s in a ’46 Ford, we’re in a DeLorean. He’d rip through us like we were tin foil.

Doc: No! It can’t be! I just sent you back to the future!
Marty: You did, oh, I know, you did send me back to the future, but I’m back — I’m back FROM the future.
Doc: Great Scott! [faints]

Young Biff: Why don’t you make like a tree and get out of here?
Old Biff: It’s LEAVE, you idiot! “Make like a tree, and leave.” You sound like a damn fool when you say it wrong.

Old Biff: [watching the chase unfold in 2015] There’s something very familiar about this.

Doc: Unbelievable, that old Biff could have chosen that particular date. It could mean that, that point in time inherently contains some sort of cosmic significance. Almost as if it were the junction point for the entire space-time continuum. On the other hand, it could just be an amazing coincidence.

Marty: Forty-five bucks for a Pepsi? This IS the future!

Strickland: Eat lead, slackers!

Griff Tannen: Wow! Since when did you become the physical type?

Biff Tannen: The guy with the hat. Where is he?
CPR Kid: Oh he went that way. I think he took your wallet! [pause] I think he took his wallet.

Marty: ‘Cubs win world series against Miami’?
Old Man: Yeah. Who would’ve thought? 100 to 1 shot! I wish I could go back to the beginning of the season, put some money on the Cubs.
Marty: I just meant Miami-…what did you just say?
Old Man: I said I wish I could go back to the beginning of the season, put some money on the Cubbies!

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11 Comments

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