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Back to the Future Part III Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 10

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Julie Salamon

    Doc says: "I can't believe this is happening." …That sentence may be the only one uttered in the entire film that contains an ounce of true feeling. Certainly that was the thought on my mind as I watched this depressing rehash of material that seemed original just five years ago, when it was. And "I can't believe this is happening" seemed to be what most of the actors were thinking as they gamely trudged through their paces yet again. [31 May 1990, p.A12]

  • 33

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    Back to the Future Part III has that same sort of studio back-lot clunkiness. Only this time it's the audience that gets conked — by the sheer desperation of the whole enterprise.

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  • 63

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    That looking-glass quality is missing, alas, from Back to the Future Part III, which makes a few bows in the direction of time-travel complexities, and then settles down to be a routine Western comedy.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    USA Today Susan Wloszczyna

    Back to the Future Part III wraps up the film series with a big high-tech lasso and ropes in one heck of a good time. [25 May 1990, p.01D]

  • 75

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Gene Siskel

    Part III has the more adult emotions of the original, and with the presence of Steenburgen it recalls the quality of her other fine time-travel romance, "Time After Time." [25 May 1990, p.C]

  • See all Back to the Future Part III reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 9+

Wild West-themed final installment is fine for older tweens.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this final installment in the Back to the Future trilogy is, like its predecessors, a PG film with a tad more language than usual. But there's actually slightly less innuendo and a lot less bully-related violence in this one than in Part II. The coarsest language includes "bitch," "assh--e," and "s--t," with several insults and synonyms for "coward" thrown in on a more regular basis. Although there's romance, it's very chaste except for two kisses and one off-color reference to what a woman could do that's worth $80 to settle a debt. All of the violence involves guns and fists, and in one brief scene it looks like Marty is going to be hanged, but no one dies, and it's all kept rather comical, even when a huge group of horse-mounted Indians are riding with guns and arrows. Unlike in the first two movies, in this one Doc Brown learns love is even more important than his rules for time travel.

  • Families can talk about how Marty and Doc remain loyal friends in all three movies. How do they help each other in this installment? What challenges change from film to film, and what stays the same?
  • How did romance change Doc's ideas about time travel? Why does he decide that he's going to stay behind in the "past"?
  • What does Marty learn about not letting taunts like "are you chicken?" get to him? How can you apply that lesson in your own life?
  • If you've seen the first two films, which of the three is your favorite? Why?

The good stuff
  • educationalvalue true1

    Educational value: Not an issue

  • message true2

    Messages: One of the most important messages in this movie is letting go of words that rile you up -- not taking the bait when bullies try to demean you. It's good for kids to learn that words, although they hurt, don't need to catalyze you to do self-destructive things. Marty finally learns this lesson at the very end of the film. Doc's decision also shows that in the end he values love over all else.

  • rolemodels true2

    Role models: In addition to Marty and Doc Brown, who always demonstrate the importance of loyalty, friendship, and trust, this trilogy installment benefits from the introduction to Clara, a sweet and kind teacher who falls in love with Doc Brown and stands up for herself against the town bullies.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: Violence is all Wild West-style: there are barroom brawls, a shoot-out at dawn (well, 8 AM) and other old West violence, none of it particularly nasty. The Biff ancestor is aggressive and likes to push Marty and his ancestor around -- shooting at Marty's feet. When he first arrives in the Wild West, Marty encounters a group of horse-mounted Indians riding toward him with guns and arrows. In one brief scene, Marty is shown with a rope around his neck, as if he's about to be hanged -- until he's saved.

  • sex false1

    Sex: A couple of kisses but mostly there's a lot of longing looks between Doc and his love interest. In one scene a man makes a reference about what a woman "could do worth $80," which a child may not understand but clearly alludes to sex. Marty and his girlfriend Jennifer also exchange a couple of heated kisses.

  • language false3

    Language: Some stronger words than usually heard in PG movies: "bitch," "assh--e," and "s--t," as well as mild insults like "damn you to hell," "chicken," "yellow," "coward," "lily livered," "gutter trash," and more.

  • consumerism false1

    Consumerism: Marty wears Nike sneakers, the discontinued sports car the DeLorean is of central importance.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: There's drinking in the town saloon that is shown a few times. Only men are shown with drinks in hand.