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Back to the Future Part II

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Back to the Future Part II Movie Poster Image
Amusing futuristic sequel more dated, edgier than original.
  • PG
  • 1989
  • 108 minutes
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 24 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 57 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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.


A character is seen shot by terrorists but escapes injury. A bully makes several threats. Some dark/ominous imagery.


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.


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."


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.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byWhatdoIthink? April 9, 2008
Whoa! I'm glad they made the third one even though this was so bad. Not only was it an insult to the trilogy, but it was much more inappropriate than the o... Continue reading
Adult Written byAlokin March 2, 2014

please don't show this film to your kids

I registered with common sense just so that I could warn people not to show this film to kids- any age! For once I think the review was way off. We stopped the... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bycheese-process August 24, 2010

Great movie, but the common sense rating was way off.

I thought this movie was great, but the common sense rating was way off. There was lots of language, violence, (including beating), and a couple of references... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old December 12, 2010

Lotsa Swearing

How much this has gone from the breezy, funny Back to the Future l (which made it on my favorites list) to this is one HUGE step! There is swearing and it disre... Continue reading

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?

Movie details

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