A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
While there is a happy ending of sorts, the film is way too silly to have any positive messages.
Positive Role Models
The characters are either wacky, farcical, or two-dimensional. The Native American characters are especially stereotyped, as heavy drinkers and/or warriors.
Violence & Scariness
Native Americans and cowboys do battle with rifles. Native Americans are shown shot and killed as they fall off their horses. A "bad guy" cowboy is shot and killed during a shootout. Cartoonish violence abounds in this parody of Westerns: guns misfire, characters engage in slapsticky fistfights, and pratfalls galore.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A dentist drops one of his tools down the cleavage of a voluptuous woman wearing a low-cut dress.
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A character refers to Native Americans as "savages."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
As a parody of Westerns, there is a fair amount of whiskey drinking in this one. Characters down shots, pass around bottles, and the main character acts comedically drunk as he finishes off a bottle by himself and babbles.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Shakiest Gun in the West is as much a parody of Western movies as it is an opportunity for Don Knotts to engage in slapstick buffoonery. As a comedic and slapstick take on the Western, the biggest concern is the amount of drinking going on. In the saloons, characters down shots; in a fit of despair, Knotts' character gets drunk and laments his fate, slurring his speech and falling over. During a celebration, Native Americans are shown passing a whiskey bottle around and drinking to excess. While perhaps this is to be expected -- after all, a western without whiskey would be like a third grade little league game without Capri Sun -- the comical intoxication may be a bit much for families hoping to avoid explaining such behavior to younger kids. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
THE SHAKIEST GUN IN THE WEST is the kind of campy-fun movie they stopped making in the late 1960s or thereabouts. Not a great film by conventional standards, but as mindless entertainment for its own sake, it isn't bad. Don Knotts takes his Barney Fife character from The Andy Griffith Show -- replete with gun misfirings and nervous twitchings at the signs of any danger -- and applies it to this spoof of Westerns. Slapstick, pratfalls, and wonton silliness abounds.
Made in 1968 (and a remake of a 1948 Bob Hope film called The Paleface), not all the humor will resonate with kids, over 40 years later. The excessive drinking and Native American stereotyping should call into question the idea that "movies were way more wholesome than they are today," but for those who find humor in clumsiness and gun misfirings, The Shakiest Gun in the West is an enjoyable send-up of Western movie conventions.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.