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Back to the Future 2 Makes No Sense

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Lee has a bachelor's in English Lit. She loves analyzing fiction and obsessing over books, film, and television.


I was watching Back to the Future 2 the other day, and it occurred to me that while the movie is pretty great for a sequel, it's still really disturbing how irresponsible Doc is and how he spends the entire movie breaking his own rules about tampering with the time continuum.

For some insane and contrived reason (Money? The joy of making a sequel? Both? Why the hell not?), Doc wants to go back to the future and alter it in order to save Marty Mcfly's son from going to jail.

Established lore broken.

What's more, it makes no sense. Doc didn't need Marty's help to change his future. He could have did what he later did to Jennifer: knocked the teenager out with futuristic chloroform and left him helpless and unconscious in an alley. Marty Jr. never meets Griff and boom. Future changed.

Or he could've just, you know, told Marty about the heist. Then Marty could have kept his son home on the day of the bank robbery -- instead of going to the future, buying the sports alamanc, and completely rewriting the present into a dystopia.

Instead, after warning Marty over and over not to mess with the time continuum, Doc appears at the end of the first film, digging in the garbage and shouting that they have to mess with the time continuum. Marty agrees without missing a beat, and then they head to the future.

Cue the 80's pop.


Doc drags Marty's girlfriend, Jennifer, along because . . . reasons . . . and leaves the teenage girl knocked out in an alley where the police find her and then take her to her future self's home . . . which could have led to a time paradox where Jennifer and her future self both ceased to exist.


Way to go, Doc.

Jennifer's role in the film basically boils down to being knocked out and dragged around by two men half the time. Her being awake isn't remotely important to the plot and she barely has a speaking role, both as Old Jennifer and as Young Jennifer.

Would have been interesting if she at least had some sort of character-developing subplot, where seeing her old self amounted to more than a comedic scream-faint.


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"Better I devote myself to the other great mystery of the universe: women."

I realize this is just a foreshadowing for when Doc clumsily falls in love with Claira in the third film but . . . No, Doc. Women aren't a mystery. Women aren't a puzzle to be solved. There is no right way to "pick up chicks" because women are nuanced individuals.

Women are people.

Geez. No wonder Claudia Wells didn't come back.


On top of this, Marty steals the sports almanac and it backfires, completely rewriting the present into Hell Valley, killing George McFly, and turning Biff into Donald Trump. (Damn. The second film was dark enough that Eric Stoltz might just have pulled it off.)

This is the exact sort of thing Doc always warned Marty against, but he really has no place to lecture Marty as it was his fault Marty had access to the sports almanac.

Really, why did Doc think it would be cool to bring two teenagers to the future? That poor man must really be lonely.


Of course, if they hadn't made up this contrived plot in order to film Back to the Future 2, we would never have seen Micheal J. Fox in drag . . . which was totally worth it.

The running gag in the trilogy is that the McFlys have an Ugly Woman Gene. Marty's sister in the first film is supposed to be ugly, and his daughter in the second film is as well.


Also, we would never have seen Future Frodo make a cameo.

Wasn't Elijah Wood so cute?


Another hilarious observation is that The Bully's gang went from a bunch of white dudes . . .


. . . to a more diverse group with an Asian guy and a woman. Because the future would have progressed to a point where minorities were bullies too?

You have to admire their attention to detail.

"Get the hell outta my car, old man!"


Okay. More things that didn't make sense.

Biff and his entire family are played up as idiots the entire trilogy. So how did Biff know how to work the time machine? Did Doc invent a machine so complex on paper and yet so easy to operate that any idiot could work it?

And what was the point in Old Biff returning the time machine? He could've done anything with that thing.

Yeah. Let's not think too hard about this. Clearly, the writers didn't.

In the end, even if the plot was silly and contrived, it led to some really great "behind the scenes" moments, where we got to see things that were going in the first movie while Marty was off . . . not getting seduced by his own mother.

The second movie also served to expand Marty's character. We learn more about who Marty is as a person in the choices he makes. We see Old Marty get fired for caving to peer pressure because of the word "chicken." Then we see Young Marty learn to stop being so hot-headed and insecure, both in Back to the Future 2 and Back to the Future 3 when he decides to walk away from Needle Nose and Mad Dog, instead of letting them goad him into foolishness.


(Don't you just love Christopher Lloyd? Man looks like he stepped out of a damn cartoon.)

Doc, meanwhile, learns to stop being rational and logical and gives in to emotion when he meets Claira, the love of his life.

I could go into a mini rant about what a damsel in distress Claira is, but this is about the sequel, not the third movie. Also, I feel being a damsel in distress works for Claira's character. It didn't diminish her part in the plot whatsoever, and never once was she little more than an object or a plot device.


All joking and teasing aside, Back to the Future 2 is a pretty awesome movie and sets the stage nicely for the third and final installment.

There has never quite been a trilogy like it.

© 2018 Lee

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