A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the second installment in this hit time-travel trilogy is slightly more "PG-13" than "PG." You'll find more language (including "s--t" and "a--hole"), sexual references (including jokes about breast implants and allusions to adultery and threesomes), and negative role models (the plot includes a lot of Biff in all three time periods) than in the first movie, so it may be an iffy pick for early-elementary-aged kids. But for mature older tweens -- or kids who've already enjoyed the original -- the visuals about the movie's "future" and the physical comedy will entertain, even if the time-travel twists can get confusing.
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What's the story?
In this sequel to Robert Zemeckis' wildly popular blockbuster Back to the Future, Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) once again time travels -- this time not because he's fleeing terrorists but because Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) implores him to go to the future. Marty brings his girlfriend, Jennifer (Elisabeth Shue) along, and the three of them travel via DeLorean to the year 2015 in order to save Marty's future son, Marty Jr. (also Fox), from danger. During their time in 2015, aged bully Biff Tannen (Thomas S. Wilson) figures out that Marty and Doc have traveled from the past and decides to go back with a sports almanac to 1955 give his younger self an easy way to become rich by betting on winners. That change in the space-time continuum causes all sorts of devastating changes for Marty's present (1985), so he and Doc head all the way back to the '50s to stop Biff.
Is it any good?
There are downsides to this installment that make it less exciting than the original. As with The Matrix, a few critics regard the Back to the Future trilogy as one milestone original and two less-memorable sequels -- particularly this one. Admittedly, there's still plenty of nostalgia value and amusement at the expense of the once distant, now all-too-imaginable future depicted here, and Fox and Lloyd continue to be a winning comedic combination. But the plot's overdependence on the annoying Biff character; the replacement of Crispin Glover, who so deftly played Marty's meek father George McFly; the fact that Fox and Wilson have to play more than one person; and the simple lack of novelty with the time-travel concept are but a few of the reasons this sequel is
fun but not fantastic.
Parents who grew up in the '80s may be surprised at how dated BACK TO THE FUTURE II feels, even though it was obviously made after the original, which still holds up after 25 years. It will remain, however, one of those movies that Generation Xers gravitate to and introduce to their kids. Children will get a kick out of the fact that the future imagined by Zemeckis involves shimmery metallic outfits and hover-boards for the general population. Maybe in another 25 years...
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how this movie compares to the original Back to the Future. How is Marty's family dilemma different in 2015 than it was in 1955? What are some differences between the original and the sequel? Which one do you like better, and why?
What makes Biff such an unredeemed, unapologetic nemesis? How are his motives for time travel back to the '50s different than Marty and Doc's?
The "future" is set in 2015, a year that's not so futuristic now. How does real life compare to the future depicted in the 1980s?
Did all of the time travel make sense, or was it to difficult to follow? What are some other time travel-themed movies that explore similar themes of trying to right past wrongs?
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