Wild Wild West

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Wild Wild West Movie Poster Image
Western action-comedy set in bordello; lots of gunfire.
  • PG-13
  • 1999
  • 106 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 11 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Positive messages

Some scenes laud smarts over force, but these messages are quickly subverted by the many, many scenes of characters being shot and punched.

Positive role models & representations

Though West and Fowl are "the good guys," it is hard to tell the difference between their methods and those of the "bad guys." We are simply told one is law and order and one is bad, but all are violent, crude and double-dealing. Most of the women in the movie are dressed in old-timey prostitute gear.

Violence

Characters are suddenly sucker-punched. Villains are shot in the gut and bleed gorily. We see many dead bodies. A man is suddenly shot and thrown into the water to be eaten by crabs; we later see him washed up on land with gore on the front of his shirt, slowly dying. The violence is cartoonish, but intense.

Sex

Many scenes of characters rolling around intimately, though we see no nudity. Many characters are prostitutes and there are discussions of how much their services cost and whether prostitutes are allowed to refuse a customer. Many scenes are set in a bordello, with men and women in vintage-looking underwear or seemingly naked and wrapped in sheets.

Language

Some cursing: "s--t," "ass." There are also insults: "rednecks."

Consumerism
Drinking, drugs & smoking

Many scenes depict both bad and good guys taking drinks; several characters smoke cigars.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Wild Wild West is a big, loud, coarse adventure flick, with interesting visual styling including steampunk gadgets and an Old West setting. There's lots of cartoonish violence, including characters who are suddenly punched in the face and shot in the gut and then bleed gorily while their bodies are summarily dumped in the water to be fed to "the crabs." The viewer sees many dead bodies, and main characters are frequently in mortal jeopardy such as being suspended under a moving train, though such hijinks are usually played for laughs. There are many sexual situations as well, with characters rolling around intimately (no nudity), and prostitutes offering sexual services for pay. There is also racial humor: at one point Will Smith shucks-and-jives like a slave, and a group of white Southerners threaten to lynch him while Smith calls them "rednecks." Cursing is kept to a minimum, save for a few S-words, and a lot of coarse language like "boobies." The viewer is told that some characters are good and others bad, but all are violent and prone to trickery.

User Reviews

Parent of a 14 and 15 year old Written byLadyD2U January 24, 2011

Not for tweens at all, if you want your kids to grow up with some morals.

I don't remember the TV show being anywhere near how they created the movie. James West wasn't black but I love Will Smith. I hate they have to have s... Continue reading
Adult Written byAshnak April 9, 2008

Great Teen Film

This movie is a great action fantasy film about the old west. Age 15+ though I would say.
Teen, 16 years old Written byCenturion November 21, 2011

Too much sexual content!

This movie, while very witty, has exposed female buttox, conversation and views of cleavage and quite a bit of swearing. There's even more sexual content t... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old May 30, 2015

What's the story?

Based on the campy 1960s TV show, WILD WILD WEST follows the adventures of Civil War era secret agent James West (Will Smith) and his sidekick Artemus Gordon (Kevin Kline), a master of disguise and technology. When their nemesis Dr. Loveless (Kenneth Branaugh) vows revenge for losing his entire lower half in the Civil War and aims to gain total world domination within seven days, West and Gordon set out to stop him. Salma Hayek plays the lovely Rita Escobar, who flirts with all three men and spends much of the movie in fetching 19th century lingerie with a brief detour into a union suit with the trap door open.

Is it any good?

Wild Wild West has a weak, weak script. It is not unusual to see a trailer that is better than the movie, but in this case the music video is brighter, wittier, and more exciting than the movie. Will Smith's appeal goes a long way toward making up for poor plotting and dialogue, but not far enough.

There is some attempt to deal with the fact that West is a black man at a time when most black people had only recently been freed from slavery, but the entire movie is so completely preposterous that the effort is awkward and inconsistent with the tone of the rest of the film. Indeed, the overall tone of the film is awkward, not giving Kline or Hayak much to do, though Kline has a nice turn as President Grant. Branaugh is happily over the top as the bad guy, there are some cool special effects, and Smith's charm and grace carry it a long way, but not far enough to make it anything more than a pleasant diversion less raunchy than Austin Powers.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the stereotypes in Westerns and why there are so few movies about the Wild West being made anymore.

  • Talk about how women and African Americans are portrayed in this movie. Why are women so often sexualized in Hollywood movies?

Movie details

For kids who love action

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