Follow TV Tropes


Film / Wagons East!

Go To

Wagons East! is a 1994 western comedy starring John Candy (who Died During Production) and Richard Lewis. It's about a group of settlers who can't stand living in the wild west and hire an incompetent wagon master to take them back East. Along they way, they have to face Sioux, the American Cavalry, and a gunslinger hired by an evil railroad baron.

Wagons East! provides examples of:

  • Agent Peacock: Camp Gay or not, Julian is quite the gunslinger,
  • Arrow Catch: Slade catches an arrow before tying up everyone.
  • Bank Robbery: Ben's bank gets robbed so often the customers don't have time to make deposits.
  • Bait-and-Switch: At one point, the caravan runs out of food and Willie goes missing. Having just determined their wagon master, James is the guy who guided for the Donner Party, Ben, Zeke, and Phil are afraid he's being roasted on a spit, yelling out "We're sorry, Willie!" Willie yells back "YER sorry? Whoever stole mah Millie's gonna be *really* sorry!" Julian goes, "Oh, Millie! Super!" and digs in to the barbeque.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: It's heavily implied Willie has sex with his pet cow, Millie. His Imagine Spot of him stripping while running to her doesn't help.
  • Code of Honour: The main characters briefly discuss "The Code of the West" and how stupid it is.
  • Cowboys and Indians: Some of the kids are playing a game involving taking the roles of various adults, and Phil is dismayed when a kid complains about playing him.
  • Dedication: It's dedicated to John Candy, who died of a heart attack before the movie was finished.
  • Dwindling Party: The Fergason Brothers die one by one in freak accidents over the course of the film.
  • Fake Shemp: Because John Candy died before the movie was finished, his remaining scenes involved a body double or re-used footage.
  • Farts on Fire: The Ferguson brothers love doing this.
  • Fridge Logic: In-Universe. During the "Square the Wagons" scene, Phil gives the order to circle the wagons when the US Cavalry attacks the wagon train. The Native Guide wonders why they make a circle, when a square would force the riders to keep their distance. Phil quickly appends his orders to "Square the wagons," with a tone that indicates he wishes he'd thought of it first.
  • Gay Cowboy: Julian, although none of his friends realize it but one of the Sioux braves does. At the end of the movie, Julian reveals he's riding back West with said Sioux after they talked about San Francisco.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Parodied, at the climax of the film, James and General Larchmont have a boxing match. This fight drags on for so long that soon everyone loses interest except for Belle who stays in James' corner. By the time the fight has finished, it is implied that hours have passed, as the former settlers have had enough time to cook a picnic meal and have set an elaborate table, most of the former settlers, the Sioux braves, and the cavalry troopers have spent the time bonding and becoming close friends.
  • Guns Akimbo: During the duel between Slade and Julian. After Julian wounds Slade with a belly shot, he tries to walk away while giving Slade a chance to walk away himself and live. When Slade goes for his gun anyway, Julian whirls around with lightning speed drawing both of his guns and emptying them into Slade's torso.
  • The Gunslinger: John Slade and Julian
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Belle
  • I Gave My Word: The only reason the mail order bride doesn't try to leave the Ferguson's after realizing they want her to serve as a wife to all of them, although she's clearly reluctant about it.
  • Implausible Deniability: a cow thief denying that he stole Phil's cows at the beginning of the movie, even though the literal brand on them says "Phil's cows". When Phil points this out, his threats are part of what drive Phil (and the others listening to him) head back East in the first place.
  • Injun Country: James leads the wagon train into the heart of Sioux territory.
  • Mail-Order Bride: The Ferguson brothers can't afford individual brides, so they put their money together to buy one.
  • Meadow Run: Parodied in the climax.
  • No Party Like a Donner Party: Discussed and Invoked. James was the wagon master of the Donner Party, and there's a scene where everyone thinks James killed and is currently spit-roasting Willie, but it's actually Willie's pet cow, Millie.
  • Only Useful as Toilet Paper: Bookseller Julian is chagrined to realize that a lot of the local cowboys see his books as this, which helps motivate him to head back East.
  • Planning with Props: James uses kitchen utensils as a map, but he's too drunk to know what he's doing.
  • Quest to the West: Inverted and parodied, since the characters leave West and want to go back East.
  • Railroad Baron: He's willing to have people killed just to avoid the West getting bad publicity.
  • The Reveal: James led the Donner Party.
  • Running Gag: Whenever James drains a whiskey bottle, he makes like he's going to throw it, but then puts it down gently.
  • The Rustler: Someone steals Phil's cows, even though they have "Phil's Cow" branded on them.
  • The Scapegoat: Near the end we find out that James was this to the Donner disaster due to General Larchmont. At the time a much younger officer, he blatantly stole most of the supplies, food, and horses from the Donner Party's wagon train under the excuse of military requisition since at the time he was off to participate in the war against Mexico.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: The whole premise of the film comes from the characters doing this with the west as a whole and riding back east.
  • Take That!: Pride and Prejudice is used as toilet paper.
  • Tempting Fate: Phil, Ben, and Zeke talk about the Donner Party and the possibility of snow in the middle of summer. The next day, there's snow.
  • Token Evil Teammate: The Ferguson brothers, while they have their funny moments, and do carry their weight, are borderline sociopathic in a lot of scenes and their shared wife is openly hoping for them to die on the trip back, both due to interest in marrying someone else and so she won't have to be shared by as many of them.
  • Unfortunate Names: The chief's son is Little Feather. When he complains, the chief renames him Big Snake That Makes Women Faint.
  • Useful Book: Harry Bob Ferguson uses Pride and Prejudice.
  • Verbal Business Card: "The name's Slade."
  • What Happened to the Mouse??: One of the Ferguson brothers disappears, possibly having been left behind, after he refuses to join the others in fording the river and tries to find another way across.