Today! Because he’s in a ’46 Ford, we’re in a DeLorean – he’d rip through us like we were tin foil –
Back to the Future Part II (1989)
Directed by Robert Zemeckis (x2)
Starring Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd (x2), Lea Thompson (x2), Thomas F. Wilson, Elisabeth Shue, James Tolkan, Billy Zane, Charles Fleischer, Casey Siemaszko, Elijah Wood (x2), Flea, Joe Flaherty, Donald Fullilove, Mary Ellen Trainor (x2)
Ah, 1989! A transformative film year for young Joe, not so much due to Back to the Future Part II, but because its release finally prompted me to watch Back to the Future Part I. And, you know, Batman, Indiana Jones 3, Ghostbusters 2, and so on. As I didn’t have the luxury of great distance between the original and the sequel, these two movies fell into that aforementioned issue I had as a kid – where a movie and its sequel sort of blend together. It didn’t help that BttFII straight rehashes the original movie during its second half, so the sheer laziness of this move didn’t much bother me as a ten year old.
And, I mean, they try to make it clever, showing the old scenes from new angles, with all new stakes and complications, but with a decidedly older face on Marty, and a completely different Jennifer. If you watch the first and second movies one after the other – and try to think of it as one movie – I think it actually makes for a cooler experience. If you allow yourself to ruminate on the fact that four years passed and this is what they came up with – not to mention the mind bending time travel convolutions and all that chalkboard explaining of things – you might not think back on II all that fondly.
But I still love the first act – all the wonders of the distant future of 2015! Hoverboards! Those freeze dried mini pizzas turning full-size! The Cubs World Series prediction only off by one actual year! Amazing! And while I recognize III as an objectively better movie (maybe not by much, but still), I prefer II by a wide degree.
This being the second Zemeckis film to land a spot on the list, after #375’s Romancing the Stone, he joins the previous five members of the Two-Timers Director club – Altman, J. Zucker, Scorsese, Stallone, and De Palma. There is pretty large gulf between his second and third films on this list, so I will see you Zemeckis-heads on April 8th, 2020!
We also add four actors to the Two-Timers club today – Zemeckis staple Mary Ellen Trainor after her role in Romancing the Stone, Elijah Wood’s childhood cameo here following his virtual cameo in #362’s The Hobbit, Lea Thompson’s second appearance in three days after her inter-species romance in #346’s Howard the Duck, and Christopher Lloyd’s signature role joins another ’89 performance, in #393’s The Dream Team. Way to go, folks!
Its Visual Effect Oscar nom is the lone award of significance the film vied for, but no mention was made of Best Thomas F. Wilson – the unsung hero and clear MVP of this film and really the trilogy as a whole. His multi-aged performance as various Biffs is the standout acting work of the movie, and is a career highlight. Fight me, Freaks and Geeks fans!