While it’s obvious by now that 2015 won’t be offering the hover boards and petite pizzas that instantly turn full-size when you put them in the microwave as promised in Back to the Future II, there is still something a bit disappointing about 1989’s (though the film itself is still supposed to be set in 1985) vision of the future when comparing to what is, now, the present.
Picking up from where the first installment left off, Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) comes to Marty (Michael J. Fox) to warn him of a terrible future for him and his girlfriend, Jennifer (Elisabeth Shue). Having just freshly come back from accidentally going back to 1955, Marty is somewhat wary of being summoned to 2015. Nonetheless, Doc’s insistence that their children’s well-being depends on it cajoles him and Jennifer into going.
Arriving to the future to find that Biff’s son, Griff (also played by Thomas F. Wilson), is going to sabotage his son, Marty Jr., by getting him arrested for a robbery. Marty pretends to be his son and ends up getting Griff and his gang arrested instead. Among this foray into the future is also a nonsensical perception of how fashion was going to be: specifically, shiny metallic hats and bulky Nikes that seem to make you magically more athletic. This is clearly a combination of grafting the rave culture that was beginning to develop in 1988 and a need for extra funds for the budget via a corporation paying for product placement (Pizza Hut also threw down to showcase that they would be the ones innovating in the world of pizza).
For as hard as director Robert Zemeckis and screenwriter Bob Gale attempted to imagine a post-80s future, everything about Back to the Future II screams that there was far more hope for what the twenty-first century would hold than what subsequent generations were able to carry out, what with our depressive, angsty millennial bull shit. Even so, it isn’t the inaccuracy of Back to the Future II‘s predictions for 2015 that’s upsetting, it’s that it’s about to be 2015 and we’re nowhere near that level of optimism.