Back to the Future Part II
By Sandie Angulo Chen,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Amusing futuristic sequel more dated, edgier than original.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
One of the movie's pervasive messages is that if you could change any one thing, it should obviously be to make yourself rich. That said, Marty's time travel demonstrates the importance of family (whereas Biff's desire for time travel is rooted solely in greed and materialism). The movie also has a strong theme about not letting what other people think of you bother you.
Positive Role Models
Marty and Doc Brown are once again brave and selfless protagonists trying to undo the wrongs of time travel. Biff, on the other hand, only cares about making money and terrorizing and one-upping everyone he knows, especially the McFly family.
Violence & Scariness
A character is seen shot by terrorists but escapes injury. A bully makes several threats. Some dark/ominous imagery.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
More sexual innuendo than in the original. In addition to a couple of quick kisses between Marty and his girlfriend, there are references to breast implants and size, infidelity and unwanted advances. In one
scene, a married male character is shown with his arms draped around two swimsuit-clad groupies in a hot tub.
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Words not usually associated with PG movies are used a few times, including "s--t," "bitch," and "a--hole." Other language includes "hell," "stupid," "suckers," "butthead," and "loser."
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Products & Purchases
Product placements include Nike, Pepsi, Texaco, Black & Decker, and AT&T, all of which are sort of poked fun at, since the movie is set in the once-distant future. And, of course, there's the famous DeLorean.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Marty's mother obviously likes to drink, and references are made to her possibly being a "drunk." Biff is shown with a drink in his hand.
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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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Back to the Future Part II
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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?
- In theaters: November 22, 1989
- On DVD or streaming: January 25, 2005
- Cast: Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Michael J. Fox
- Director: Robert Zemeckis
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Topics: Adventures
- Run time: 108 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- Last updated: December 30, 2022
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