A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
"Back to the Future Part II" is an exercise in goofiness, an excursion into various versions of the past and future that is so baffling that even the characters are constantly trying to explain it to each other. I should have brought a big yellow legal pad to the screening, so I could take detailed notes just to keep the time-lines straight. And yet the movie is fun, mostly because it's so screwy.
Any story involving travel through time involves the possibility of paradoxes, which have provided science-fiction writers with plots for years. What happens to you, for example, if you kill your grandfather? What do you say if you meet yourself? In one famous s-f story, a time traveler to the distant past steps on a single bug and wipes out all the life forms of the future.
"Back to the Future Part II" is the story of how the heroes of the first movie, Marty McFly and Doc Brown, try to manipulate time without creating paradoxes, and how they accidentally create an entirely different future - one in which Marty's beloved mother is actually married to his reprehensible enemy, Biff Tannen. McFly and Brown are played again this time by Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd, the stars of the 1985 box-office hit, and they not only made "Part II" but went ahead and filmed "Part III" at the same time. Indeed, this movie closes with a coming-attractions trailer for the third part, which will open next summer. (Trivia buffs may note that Russ Meyer is the only other filmmaker to end a movie with a trailer.) The script conferences on the set of this movie must have been utterly confusing, as director Bob Zemeckis and writer Bob Gale tried to find their way through the labyrinth they had created. The movie opens in 1985. McFly has just returned from his previous adventure when Doc Brown appears once again in that souped-up De Lorean. He's breathless with urgency and wants McFly to join him on a trip to the year 2015, where absolutely everything has gone wrong and McFly is needed to save his own son from going to jail.
The city of Hill Valley in the year 2015 looks like the cover of an old pulp magazine. The town square we remember from the previous film has been transformed with ramps heading for the skies and jet-powered vehicles cruising through the skies. The kids even have skateboards that operate on the same principle as hovercraft, which leads to one of the movie's best special-effects numbers when McFly tries to evade a gang of rowdies.