Most people seem to accept that Back to the Future Part II is one of the greatest sequels of the 1980s. It’s pretty much impossible for anything to live up to the original, but by broadening the story and taking it forward to 2015, back to 1955 and an alternative version of 1985, they created an unforgettable movie that even 15,000 showings on TBS can’t diminish.
Back when it came out, however, critics were a little torn. Check out this Siskel and Ebert clip from the week it arrived in multiplexes. Neither of them were blown away, but Roger Ebert was significantly more impressed than his partner. “It is a goofy and screwball movie and I enjoyed it for what it is,” he said. “The charm of the movie is its zaniness.” Siskel wasn’t having any of that. “I don’t see any reason why a screwball comedy couldn’t have taken time out to have heart,” he said. “I found this to be very gadget-filled and really noisy in an unpleasant way.”
Siskel was particularly bothered by the amount of screen time given to Biff. “He’s really the star of the picture,” he said. “I think the movie could have been called Biff in a way. He dominated the whole action. And the Michael J. Fox character and the relation to his parents, that’s really just not there. The father isn’t even there. I really found it kind of unpleasant to watch, in a way. I was looking forward to watching it, but I didn’t enjoy it at all.”
Ebert enjoyed the film’s time travel aspect, a major component of the movie that Siskel didn’t even touch upon. “One of the things I liked was Christopher Lloyd racing around, back and forth through time,” he said. “He changes something here and it comes out different there. Michael J. Fox steals the almanac in the future. Biff gets it from Michael J. Fox and goes back to 1955. That changes 1985.”
The public sided with Ebert and the film grossed $332 million, bested only by Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Batman that year. It’s also spawned all sorts of fake stories on Twitter and Facebook about the actual date Marty and Doc traveled to in the future. For the record, it’s October 21st, 2015. Hopefully it’ll be a day of celebration all across the globe, but until then don’t believe anything you read online that says it’s some other day.