Unnecessary review

Unnecessary Review is a continuing column in which a rotating series of writers review something unnecessarily.

In Robert Zemeckis’s trilogy Back to the Future, actress Claudia Wells, who played Jennifer Parker — Marty McFly’s girlfriend — was replaced in the second movie by Elisabeth Shue, causing the last shot in Back to the Future to be re-shot and placed as first scene in Back to the Future II, with Shue in place as Jennifer.

Despite the fact that not many movie-goers know this scene was re-shot, I will provide a detailed, step-by-step comparison of Michael J. Fox’s portrayal of the young McFly after returning back to the future.

The shot starts with McFly opening the garage door to find a giant black truck, one that McFly has never seen and this makes him excited. Even though Fox does a fairly good job of acting surprised and somewhat happy to see his truck in the second movie, his performance in the first movie was much better.
In the first film, the audience can see the excitement in Marty McFly’s body language as he hold his keys in his hand before bringing his hand to lightly hit his truck. In the second film, however, Fox actually strikes the truck in a way that makes him appear angry.

Shortly after, the actress playing Jennifer appears on the screen. Fox appears surprised in both scenes and does a fairly good job of repeating himself almost identical to how he sounded in the first movie, but his performance is lacking overall.

In the first movie, McFly literally pushed himself off of his truck to go greet his then girlfriend, while in the second movie, Fox slowly removes his hand from the truck as if he’s not excited at all.

Fox approaches the actress and they embrace. At first it seems like girlfriend Parker is more excited to see McFly, embracing him almost immediately, but this causes some awkward hand placement by Fox. In the second movie, the entire scene seems rather natural and ends with McFly turning around to his parents watching him from the door.

After this, the two characters are about to kiss when Doc Brown, played by Christopher Lloyd, appears and ruins the moment. Fox’s acting in this shot is almost identical and continues on. He maintains a conversation with Brown and uses almost the exact same tone and diction in the start of the second film as he does during the last minutes of the first, ending with Doc Brown’s famous line: “Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads.”

In Back to the Future II, however, McFly’s rival in the movie, Biff, played by Thomas Wilson, witnesses the DeLorean taking off after Brown’s last line and says, in a generic fashion, “What the hell is going on here?”

What indeed.