Back to the Future Part III parents guide

Back to the Future Part III Parent Guide

Instead of feeling cynical and cheesy the final installment in the franchise feels loving and cheesy.

Overall B-

Now that Marty has cleaned up his own timeline, Doc Brown has vanished. On a quest to find his friend, Marty finds himself trapped in the wild West with a disheartened and lovesick Doc Brown, facing off against Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen, a violent ancestor of Biff. With the help of Clara, the schoolteacher who has stolen the Doc's heart, the duo have a chance of making it back to their own time...

Release date May 25, 1990

Violence B
Sexual Content A-
Profanity C
Substance Use B-

Why is Back to the Future Part III rated PG? The MPAA rated Back to the Future Part III PG

Run Time: 118 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) is in trouble! The DeLorean has been struck by lightning, pitching the Doc back to 1885. Now Marty (Michael J. Fox), stranded in 1955, will have to work with the past-version of Doc Brown to rescue him. But once Marty gets there, he realizes he has more work to do than he thought - turns out, gasoline is hard to come by in 1885, and the DeLorean has a hole in the tank. With Buford “Mad Dog” Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson) gunning for both of them, Marty and Doc Brown will have to work fast to escape the Old West before they’re buried in it.

Back to the Futureand Back to the Future Part II are quite similar (at least aesthetically), but Back to the Future Part III stands out for the simple reason that it’s a Western. Even though most of the plot elements are completely interchangeable with any of the other films, this one has the distinction of train hi-jacking, near-hanging, and a duel at high noon…or at least, around 8am.

Everyone loves a good western, and the writers and director here are no exception. They do their best to shovel in references to other films (most notably A Fistful of Dollars), and I think it pays off. Instead of feeling cynical and cheesy, it feels loving and cheesy. The change from the classic Back to the Future score to a more Western track is a great change too – I think it’s more of an homage than a rip-off, but your mileage may vary.

Despite the potential for violence in the Old West, this movie manages to keep things low-key. It has far fewer content concerns than the previous film, with significantly less profanity and violence and almost no sexual content.

You can’t accuse it of being original, but you can’t say it isn’t a good time either. Back to the Future Part III is just as goofy and fun as its predecessors, with the same cast of oddballs (all of whom have eerily familiar relatives), the same souped-up DeLorean/time-machine, and the same great chemistry between Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd. If you don’t mind some other similarities (read: identical events recurring regardless of improbability), then this is a great time for kids and adults alike. If you do mind the recycling, then just re-watch the original concurrently with something like A Fistful of Dollars and you’ll have a similar experience.

Directed by Robert Zemeckis. Starring Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, and Thomas F. Wilson. Running time: 118 minutes. Theatrical release May 25, 1990. Updated

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Back to the Future Part III
Rating & Content Info

Why is Back to the Future Part III rated PG? Back to the Future Part III is rated PG by the MPAA

Violence: Individuals are punched and kicked. A man is dragged behind a horse and nearly hanged.
Sexual Content: There is a brief shot of a man’s posterior.
Profanity: There are five uses of scatological profanity and around half a dozen terms of deity and mild profanities.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adults are shown smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol.

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Back to the Future Part III Parents' Guide

Doc tells Marty and Jen: “Your future is whatever you make it.” What can you do now to make sure your future is one you want to live in? Remember: since you don’t have a flying, time-travelling DeLorean, you’ll have to live with your choices.

Loved this movie? Try these books…

A central premise of this franchise is people’s ability to change the past and improve the present. The titular character of The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is obsessed with his past to a dangerous extent, and that obsession shapes his whole life.

Charles Portis’ True Grit is one of the classic Western novels, and has two film adaptations, one starring John Wayne and one starring Jeff Bridges.

For unadulterated western fun, try Shannon and Dean Hale’s graphic novels, Rapunzel’s Revenge and Calamity Jack.

Home Video

Related home video titles:

There are a lot of excellent options in the Western genre. Standouts include The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, Silverado, A Fistful of Dollars, and The Magnificent Seven. For kids, Disney’s Home on the Range is full of free-range fun for the whole family…and yodelling.