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How the West Was Fun
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that How the West Was Fun is a 1994 made-for-TV Olsen twin movie featuring the precocious pair, at age 8, plotting to save a dude ranch. As in most of their movies, they're usually 10 steps ahead of the slow-witted adults who surround them. Young children may be frightened when Bart tries to kidnap the twins; older viewers may find this strained plot twist funny. He takes them over rapids in a raft as the girls cry out for their dad. The twins’ widower dad tamely kisses rodeo rider Laura once. This formulaic, cutesy trifle is best for die-hard Olsen twin fans and young grade-schoolers only.
What's the story?
Jessica (Ashley Olsen) and Susie (Mary-Kate Olsen) get their dad (Patrick Cassidy) fired from his dead-end job so they can all pick up and leave Philadelphia for the failing western dude ranch where their deceased mother summered as a child. Upon arrival, the 8-year-olds uncover a secret plot by the evil Bart (Martin Mull) to steal the property from his aging mother, send the horses to the glue factory, pave over the ranch, and build a theme park. Needless to say, most of the grown-ups don’t notice any of this nefarious scheming, and it takes the twins to figure out how to dump Bart and resurrect the ranch.
Is it any good?
HOW THE WEST WAS FUN is truly one of the more inane Olsen twin outings. Martin Mull as the evil Bart performs broadly, swallowing the scenery whole in every shot, but he doesn’t have much to work with given a cliché-ridden script. The direction is no better, mimicking the unsubtle movement of checkers jumping around a board. This is not to say that young children won’t enjoy watching two cute blond 8-year-old girls rule their world for 96 minutes. Parents will be comfortable with the typical Olsen movie decency, but it's served up with sides of blandness and slapstick adult ineptitude. Maybe that's what kids like about this series.
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