Friday, January 2, 2015

Inexplicable Movie Review: Back To The Future 2 (Is Now The Present)

An example of Back to the Future being sneaky awesome.
Folks, you might have heard this already, but we are finally in the “present” of the Back to the Future series. The second installment is set in 2015, and while we don’t yet have those self-lacing Nikes or hoverboards, I’m positive they’re right around the corner! As a result, you should check out that second movie – it’s the oddest of the three, while still being really good. My power rankings go 1 > 2 > 3; I find the third to be just “more of the same” from the perspective of the series, whereas the second at least does some weird and confusingly fun stuff with the time travel.

I recently re-watched the trilogy, because it’s awesome. (I mean, I don’t really need any other reason beyond that, do I?) However, it’s also because there is always something new to notice, because director Robert Zemeckis and writer-producer Bob Gale took so much care with the details.

Two prime examples: When Marty goes back to Hill Valley in 1955, he knocks over one of the trees at Twin Pines Mall. Also, when Doc Brown is trying to rig up the lightning bolt at the end of the movie, he slips and breaks some of the stone ledge. When Marty is returned to 1985, the name of the mall has changed to Lone Pine Mall, and at the end of the first movie AND in the second movie, the ledge where Doc Brown fell from is still broken.

If you’re as nuts about the movie trilogy as I am, then I heartily recommend that you poke around the Internet and on the DVD / Blu-ray collections for the commentaries on them. There are multiple commentaries with Gale and producer Neil Canton, and there are three Q&A sessions – one on each movie, with questions about the overall series sprinkled in – with some really interesting insider stuff, from Gale and Zemeckis.

Famously, Crispin Glover didn’t want to participate in the second and third movies, and they instead re-used footage from the first film. The producers and studio were later sued over this and lost, I believe. In the commentaries, Zemeckis gets into why they couldn’t reach a deal with Glover – he wanted the same salary as Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd, as well as a bunch of creative control they even the top two stars didn’t have.

Also, contrary to rumors, there were never plans to do a fourth movie, or something like “Marty McFly and Dinosaurs.” Eric Stoltz was first cast as Marty, but he never was the first choice – Fox was. When they tried to do it without Fox and with Stoltz, they noticed the movie just didn’t work, and the initial effort and the time they wasted was actually the only way they were able to get Fox. Because they had the delay, Meredith Baxter-Birney was able to return to the cast of Family Ties, and that gave Fox justttt enough wiggle room to film both Family Ties and Back to the Future.

Also also – Jennifer, Marty’s girlfriend, was actually cast three different times. The original actress was Melora Hardin and picked to match Stoltz, who is taller than Fox. She was fired at the same time as Stoltz. Claudia Wells played Jennifer in the first film, but she was a very minor character, and featured in only two or three scenes. As a result, the part was re-cast after the first movie, and Elisabeth Shue was chosen.

You don’t need to feel too bad for Hardin though, since she was Jan in the U.S. version of The Office, and Wells… Well, she didn’t really do much after Back to the Future. But still, she’s eminently available for all of the reunion stuff, whereas Shue is not. Speaking of future Future stuff, the characters do belong to Zemeckis and Gale, but the name belongs to Universal. So unfortunately, there is a risk that there could be a reboot without the original creators or actors at some point.

There are two plot holes in the movie, one that the producers picked up, and one that they didn’t. In some scenes of the movie, Marty’s jacket zippers are up, and then, in the next scene they’re down. This is just an editing error.

However, the second one has been noticed by Cracked and Dave Dameshek, and I wrote about it based on their comments way back when. Specifically, it’s never commented upon by Marty’s parents that, wow, he looks EXACTLY like their old friend Calvin Klein that got them together in the 1950s! It seems like an odd thing for them to forget. (Not a plot hole, but just kind of cool – At one point, there are four DeLoreans in 1955. For more info, check here.)

Anyway, I know it’s a very controversial opinion, but y’all should check out these movies.

Much of the info and some of the photos for this entry come from the excellent Back to the Future wiki. The photos of the actresses are common ones taken from The Internet and IMDB / Wikipedia.

1 comment:

  1. Actually your info about me is incorrect. I was originally cast when Eric Stoltz was cast. We even did a photo session together for Marty's wallet. A pilot I had previously done, called Off The Rack for ABC was then picked up for 7 episodes- filming the same time as my Jennifer part. Because the pilot had been my first contract and the producers didn't want to share me with Amblin, I had to back out. That is when they cast Melora...I did my series, Eric filmed and was let go, they cast Michael, Melora Hardin was too tall for him and I was now available, they gave me my part back. I was supposed to star in BTTF 2 & 3, but my Mom got cancer- so I chose to stay with her and help, and I backed out of 2 & 3. They cast Elizabeth Shue, a phenomenonal actress, who coincidently was cast in Adventures In Babysitting, which was down to her, me, and Phoebe Cates for the role.
    I hope this clarifies the mis-information you wrote. Not to worry- others have gotten that information incorrect, as well. Claudia Wells AKA Jennifer Parker.


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