Daily Archives: April 4, 2022

Back To The Future Part Ii

The further adventures of Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and Doc Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd) take them from 1985 to 2015 and back, and then back to 1955 after a mishap in the future involving the villain (Thomas F. Wilson) creates a universe parallel to the one they left. The problem with all the time-travel high jinks, involving multiple versions of the major characters (a gimmick that Robert Heinlein handled much better in stories like By His Bootstraps and All You Zombies), is that in order to make the plot even semiintelligible, writer Bob Gale and director-cowriter Robert Zemeckis have to turn all these characters into strident geeks and make the frenetic action strictly formulaic. (Significantly, the principal romantic interest, Elisabeth Shue, is knocked unconscious early on so she won’t interfere with the little-boy games, and Fox briefly playing his own sister in drag only adds to the rampant misogyny.) There’s a bit of fun in the 2015 section (although this notion of the future is more nostalgic and Disneyfied than genuinely speculative), but the shrill simplicities that follow become increasingly mechanical. By the end, you may feel that you’ve just sat through a feature-length commercial for both part one (which has to be seen to make this sequel comprehensible) and part three (a trailer for it literally ends part two), along with a host of other consumables (from Pepsi to other Spielberg productions), and have been turned into a first-class geek along with the charactersan airhead consumer designed to wolf these products down. Read more

The Princess Bride

From the Chicago Reader (October 9, 1987). 2018: Criterion has a delightful digital edition of this.– J.R.


The nice thing about Rob Reiner’s friendly fairy tale adventure, with a script by William Goldman adapting his own novel, is how delicately it works in irony about its brand of make-believe without ever undermining the effectiveness of the fantasy. The framing device is a grandfather (Peter Falk) reading a favorite book aloud to his skeptical grandson (Fred Savage), and it’s the latter’s initial recalcitrance that the movie uses both as a challenge and as a safety net. In the imaginary kingdom of Florin, the beautiful Buttercup (Robin Wright) gets separated from the farmhand whom she loves (Cary Elwes) and betrothed to the evil Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon), until the nefarious Vizzini (Wallace Shawn) sprints her away. The colorful characters and adventures that ensue are, at their best, like live-action equivalents to some of the Disney animated features, with lots of other fond Hollywood memories thrown in: Andre the Giant is like a cross between Andy Devine and Lumpjaw the Bear, while Mandy Patinkin’s engaging Inigo Montoya conjures up Gene Kelly in The Pirate. Every character, in fact, is something of a goofball, and while the film is inexplicably saddled with a PG rating, it delightfully cuts across age barriers to keep everyone charmed. Read more