How the West Was Fun

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
How the West Was Fun Movie Poster Image
Sisters implausibly save dude ranch in bland tale.
  • NR
  • 1994
  • 96 minutes

Parents say

age 5+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Meant to entertain rather than educate.

Positive Messages

The twins and their father try to help family friend Natty, an older woman who's losing her dude ranch.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Natty is such a dedicated mother that she refuses to think ill of her selfish and conniving son, Bart. The twins try to expose his bad deeds without hurting Natty.

Violence & Scariness

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.

Sexy Stuff

The twins' widower dad tamely kisses rodeo rider Laura once.


Bart calls the twins "freaks."


The plot addresses the clearing of wilderness to build concrete theme parks to make millions, valuing profit above nature. This is part of the Olsen twins series.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 1, 4, and 6-year-old Written byAmber L. April 18, 2018

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the virtues of enjoying the great outdoors and preserving nature.

  • Would it be more fun to go on rides at a theme park or ride a real horse? Why?

  • How do you expose bad behavior when telling about it may hurt good people?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love to laugh

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate