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Back to the Future Part III Reviews

Biff Tannen still hates manure. But his name's not Biff, it's Buford. And it's not 1985 or 1955 or 2015. It's 1885. Mad Dog Tannen — another classic Tannen butthead — is so named because he drools a lot. And Marty McFly, whose name this time out is Clint Eastwood (instead of Calvin Klein), still does a slow, dangerous burn when anyone calls him chicken. Confused? Don't worry. It's part of the fun in the last installment to date of the time-twisting, mind-bending BACK TO THE FUTURE trilogy. Part III begins at the end of both Part I and Part II and ends roughly one-third of the way into Part II, which ended at the end of Part I with Part II's Doc (Christopher Lloyd) and Marty (Michael J. Fox) trying to avoid significant contact with Part I's Doc and Marty, while both Martys and the 1985-vintage Doc were trying to get back to 1985. Although Part I's Marty gets back to 1985, Part II's Marty gets stuck in 1955 when Part II's Doc is sent careening back to 1885 by a thunderbolt. Soooo...Marty runs into town to find Part I's Doc to help him get back to 1985 again. In the meantime a letter arrives from Doc, written in 1885, in which he explains that he was unable to repair the familiar DeLorean time machine and has buried it outside of town. While digging up the DeLorean, Marty stumbles over Doc's tombstone, inscribed "With love from Clara," Doc's death having occurred only days after he wrote the 1885 letter. So the 1955 Doc sends 1985 Marty back to save 1885 Doc from getting killed, which would snuff out Doc's family line and prevent his existence in either 1955 or 1985. And, logically, without Doc there could be no BACK TO THE FUTURE in the first place. And by the way, who's Clara? With its adult emphasis, PART III is fittingly the one installment in the trilogy that most resembles an old-fashioned movie, from its lovingly evoked western setting to its charmingly sentimental mood — bolstered by the welcome presence of Mary Steenburgen, playing Clara, as sweet and spirited a heroine as has ever crossed a screen — and its rousing, cliffhanger finale.