Picks and Pans Review: Back to the Future Part Ii

updated 12/11/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/11/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd

The first thing you need to know is this movie is not a movie at all but an extended trailer for Back to the Future Part III, which will be released next summer.

The other thing you need to know is that the brief teaser scenes from Part 111 shown at the end of this film are funnier than all 118 minutes that go before them.

This sequel's stars, writer (Robert Gale) and director (Robert Zemeckis) are the same people who figured in the delightful original, yet this movie rarely even tries to be funny. It is a sci-fi tale of time-travel paradoxes, in which Fox returns to 1955—site of his exploits in the original—to stop an incident that could change his life.

Lloyd again plays the jittery, benignly deranged scientist who invented the time-travel device. Lea Thompson again is Fox's love interest. They're mostly reduced to bystanders as Fox chases around trying to stop Biff (Thomas F. Wilson), his father's 1955 nemesis, from obtaining a magazine from the future that will allow him to win huge bets, become a tycoon and, it seems, take over North America.

Instead of the original's clever anachronism jokes, this film brazenly strews brand-name product plugs—for soft drinks, motor oil and a phone company, among other de facto sponsors.

The commercialettes might be less noticeable in a livelier film. As it is, this is a sequel for sequel's sake—all title, no content. Pending Part III, anyway, it's back to the video store. (PG)

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