Butt to the Future 2

September 31, 2011

A fun game to play while drinking is to take turns coming up with movie titles but replacing one word in the title with the word "Butt." You can play it with any other word of course. Here's a few examples.

Hot Butt Time Machine
Butt Tub Time Machine
Hot Tub Butt Machine (man that movie is gold)
Requiem for a Butt
A Butt Runs Through It
The Thin Red Butt
Butt With the Wind (think about it)
Butt Gump

Another fun game is to come up with imaginary sequels to existing movies.

Forrest Gumper
Air Force Two
Apollo 14: Everything Goes as Planned

We are trapped in time itself. How very
 deep of you. Get it. A giant fish, deep. 
And another variation is to simply remove 1 letter from a movie title:

Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dad (Aka Mrs. Doubtfire)
12 Angry Me
Ack to the Future (starring Admiral Ackbar)

This is all a big lead in so I can make fun of Back to the Future 2.

Earlier this week I analysed the cliched goals of male characters in Hollywood movies. The gist of it is that their goals typically come down to "Give me back my family!"

Why was BTTF 1 So Good?
Within the first 20 minutes of BTTF we meet Marty's girlfriend, learn his dream of being a musician, and meet his wacky scientist friend. Before long Doc is murdered by terrorists and Marty is accidentally sent back in time to 1955. So here's two clear goals. Get back to the future and save his friend's life. We keep tacking on more complications like how Marty's mom starts to fall for him instead of his father. So now failure for Marty isn't just that he'd be trapped, but he very well may make himself not exist. So then he has to make sure his dad still hooks up with his mom (and this is a tall order since his dad is a total loser. Imagine if his dad was just normal, way less daunting a task). Plus he has a hot girlfriend in 1985 he'd like to get back to.

So that covers the Goals and the Stakes, what about the Urgency? Think about it, if you have a time machine in a story, it's going to be hard to put the main character in a pickle with a ticking clock. The lightning strike is a brilliant idea that works perfectly.

BTTF 3 works pretty well since it follows the plot of 1 pretty closely. So what happened with 2?

It's like they came back to an alternate universe...
2 Opens the moment 1 ended. Marty's back in 1985, and everything's dandy, including his girlfriend (who has morphed into a new actress). Then Doc shows up, sweeps up Marty and his girlfriend and takes them to 2015 rambling on about how "something has to be done about your kids." Oh boy, here we go.

So BTTF 2 begins with about a 30 minute adventure where they try to prevent Marty's future son from getting entangled in some gang bullshit. During this, Marty's girlfriend (and future wife) starts asking tons of questions about the future, almost all of them related to what her wedding and kids will be like. So Doc knocks her out with some sleep ray thing and she becomes an unconscious prop. Marty and Doc have to then rescue her after the police mistakenly take her to her 2015 home thinking she's the 40 something version of her. She discovers wedding pictures in which Marty is wearing a tuxedo shirt, then becomes an unconscious prop again when she runs into her future self.

So the Goal for the first 3rd of the movie is to fix Marty's family or something. Not only do we not understand what's really at stake since we don't see the consequences of the family sucking, it runs totally counter to Doc Brown's whole thing about not changing things.

That's not Crispin Glover!
So while it's fun to see their vision of the future, the Goal/Stakes/Urgency just isn't there, and to top it off, it seems to imply that the only goals people have are related to having a perfect wedding, great kids, and a spectacular family. That's all we care about.

The 2nd third of the film is set in an alternate 1985 where the bully/villain has become a mogul because he stole the time machine and gave his 1955 version of himself a sports almanac that let him make millions. They don't stay in this 1985 very long, it's just to set up the third act. Doc and Marty have to go back to '55 and stop Biff from changing the future to this alternate '85. Why? Well in this version of the world, Marty's dad was murdered, his mom married Biff and got big fake titties, and Doc was committed.

Mr. Plot Device
So the 3rd act in '55 is based on the goal of stealing that sports Almanac. Good so far. The stakes are high as failing means that huge shit storm in alternate '85. In addition, they go back to the exact same date that Marty came back to the future from in the first film, because that's the day that Biff gave his young self the book. Got that?

So the climax of the film is about Marty trying to steal the book from Biff while at the same dance he was at in the first film. The other Marty can't be interfered with or else he'll never get back to the future like he did in the first film, thus creating a time paradox and destroying the galaxy. Huge stakes. So two Marty's are running around this dance and almost running into each other. Lots of tension.

BUT...what's the urgency? Why do they have to steal the book on that particular night? They went to that day because it's the day Biff got the book, but it's established that Biff waits 3 years before he uses it. So they have 3 years to get that taken care of. They can just wait through this night, since changing even very minor things can completely destroy the universe because Marty HAS to complete the lightning strike time travel bit that requires very precise timing. So why don't Marty and Doc just hang out that night and steal the book from Biff the next day? Is there nothing good on tv? Oh wait, they have a time machine, they can just go to tomorrow and do it then (remember at this point they have the Mr. Fusion and can time travel as often as they please).
Remember when the Ghostbusters risked crossing the streams
cause they were listening to Pink Floyd and it looked cool?

So there's no Urgency. There's no ticking clock to make them do what they are doing, and doing it then risks destroying the universe. And it provides a valuable lesson. If you're going to write a time travel plot, you need a way to create urgency. In 1, with no Plutonium, the lightning strike plot fixes this. In 3, the Delorean has Mr. Fusion but they can't get any gasoline so they have to find a way to accelerate the car to 88 by stealing a train, plus they know that Doc will be killed by a certain date, so they accomplish the urgency that way.

BTTF is about an accident that sends Marty back in time and he has to save himself from ceasing to ever exist in the first place, get back to his own time, and save his best friend from being murdered by terrorists.

BTTF2 is about Marty and Doc unnecessarily putting the universe at risk so they can make Marty's kids not suck so much.

That's why the B in BTTF 2 stands for Butt.

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