Back to the Future Part II picks up immediately after the first film (they even show a bit of the end of the first film). Something has gone horribly wrong in the future, and Doc and Marty must do whatever they can to fix things. Claudia Wells was unable to return as Marty’s girlfriend, Jennifer, so they replaced her with Elisabeth Shue.
This was the weakest of the three films. The plot was pretty weak, and the story seemed to wander all over instead of remaining solid like in the first film. The plethora of characters played by Michael J. Fox were inconsistent, too. It really suffered from Middle Film Syndrome. Christopher Lloyd continued with a consistent Doc Brown, so there really isn’t much to say about that.
Self-lacing shoes and hoverboards were a couple fun ideas from the writers, though I am always amused by people’s visions of the future. So many seem to think clothing will be really futuristic, but looking back over the last 2000 years, clothing has remained fairly utilitarian for the most part. The fabrics used have changed, and the designs of the clothing have changed to give a more precise fit, but the clothing the general public wears doesn’t really seem incredibly “futuristic” when compared to clothing from 200-300 years ago. People tend to go for comfort and utility unless they are modern fashion designers.
I was disappointed that Jennifer didn’t play a bigger role in the film. Instead of bringing her along, they left her at her house and went off on their own adventure. I think it would have been more interesting to bring her along and let her in on the whole time travel secret (especially since they do just that at the end of the third film). It might have even made this film better.
The music was mostly rehashed from the first film, which is fine, but it would have been fun to see things mixed up a little. The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi were both sequels, but the music in each had its own feel while maintaining the overall themes from the first film. I see it as a missed opportunity.
Lea Thompson was mostly wasted in this film, playing only a drunk, disenchanted wife to the future Biff. She was fascinating in the first film, especially back in the 1950s. The future vision of Marty’s family being mostly clones of himself was short-sighted and limiting, too. Kids are not clones of their parents—far from it, in actuality. It was funny for a couple minutes, but then got old.
I had higher hopes for this film. It had the potential to be as fun as the first, but squandered that potential on cheap jokes and shallow vision. This isn’t an awful film, but it certainly wasn’t as entertaining as the first. The only reason to have it is because all three films are so closely tied together.
Release Date: November 22, 1989 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG
Alcohol/Drugs: 2 (a lot of drinking, some smoking)
Language: 2 (a lot of mild, some stronger)
Sexuality: 2 (sexy hot tub scene, a lot of innuendo, very revealing attire)
Violence: 1 (threats, fisticuffs, shootings)