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BACK TO THE FUTURE PART III. Directed by Robert Zemeckis; written by Bob Gale; produced by Bob Gale and Neil Canton for Universal. Starring Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd and Mary Steenburgen. Rated PG.


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Back to the Future III delivers more than it promises. We could expect the concluding segment of this popular series to be funny and exciting, and to have a wacky logic all its own. And since the same talented crew that gave us the first two parts are also behind this one, it doesn't disappoint.

The bonus delight is that this picture is also a terrific send-up of western movies. How it gets in a position to do this requires a little explanation.

Fans of the series will recall that at the end of Part II, hero Marty (Fox) gets word that the time machine's inventor, Doc (Lloyd) accidently got sent back to 1885. Through some research in old newspapers, Marty learns of some problems Doc will encounter there and decides to rescue him.

Due to this complicated chain of events, Part III takes a little longer to set up its story and get going than did I and II. But it's worth the wait.

From scenes filmed in Monument Valley (where several of John Ford's classic 1950's westerns were shot), to Marty's taking "Clint Eastwood" as his nom de voyage, to production design that's perfect down to the smallest detail, Back to the Future III is both an entertaining satire on old westerns and a new western of sorts itself.

Fox is getting a little old to play a teenager, but he can still get by with a good script like this one. Lloyd is wonderful as always as Doc, crazy and wildly imaginative, but always there when you need him.

Steenburgen doesn't have too much to do as the local schoolmarm, but she's important to the plot and looks like she belongs in the 1880s fashions. (Steenburgen is an old hand at time travel movies anyway. Time After Time is as good as this one.)

If, for some unimaginable reason, you haven't seen Back to the Future, Parts I and II, you can still enjoy this one. You won't get all of the inside jokes and references, but you'll still get your money's worth.

June 13, 1990

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