Parents' Guide to

Back to the Future

By Elliot Panek, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

'80s time-travel favorite; some violence, bullying, cursing.

Movie PG 1985 116 minutes
Back to the Future Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 11+

Based on 141 parent reviews

age 13+

Casually presented Sexual Assault - Parents Beware

Like others I have great memories of this film from my childhood. Re-watching it with my 11 year old, I was horrified that a major plot point is that Marty's plan is to assault his young mother in the car to such a point that there is a struggle, at which George would come in and save the day. Weird and gross on multiple levels. Worse, when Marty (thankfully) doesn't go through with this plan, Bif and his goons get rid of Marty, and Bif gets in the car and does to proceed to sexually assault her, which we can tell by Bif stating what he's about to do, the shaking car, and signs of Lorraine struggling. It's all fairly shocking, and it's presented so casually that the point has nothing to do with Lorraine, it's all about giving George an opportunity to prove his manliness. The fact that Lorraine is being held in a car and groped without her consent isn't even given a casual mention. Also requiring explanation are that George McFly is a "peeping Tom", which is gross and makes it hard to like him as a hero, and that Bif says sexually threatening things to Lorraine in the cafeteria. I really regret showing this to my 11-year old. It provided an opportunity to talk about sexual assault, but that really wasn't what I was going for when I said "hey let's watch this fun movie with cool gadgets."
age 9+

You should think twice before letting young kids view this

After reading that there were "bits of language," I was shocked at how often the language was objectionable. They used the Lord's name in vain frequently, and they used other profanities quite regularly throughout the movie. It was much worse than I had anticipated.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (141 ):
Kids say (326 ):

The film remains light and breezy, never taking time travel too seriously, and both romance and science defer to adventure. That said, the sci-fi subplot never disappears for more than a scene or two. Marty's friendship with Doc is at the heart of the film, and it keeps the midsection from becoming just another romantic comedy.

Adult viewers may find that the film milks anachronisms for one joke too many, but kids are likely to get as much of a kick out of the dated clothing, music, and slang of 1980s as Marty gets out of the lack of TV reruns and Tab soda in the '50s. It should come as little surprise that Steven Spielberg executive-produced Back to the Future. Like so many of his films, it manages to blend heady science fiction, humor, adventure, and romance while retaining an exuberance and a sense of wonder familiar to anyone under the age of 12.

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