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Western Animation / Party Wagon

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Party Wagon is a 2004 TV Movie Pilot from Craig Bartlett (creator of Nickelodeon's Hey Arnold! and brother-in-law to Matt Groeningnote  that was aired on Cartoon Network.

The movie takes places during the days of the Oregon Trail and follows Randall P. McDuff, a homeless teenager on the run after he ran out on his wedding (and obviously can't go back for fear of repercussions from his bride's family). While trying to cross a river, he meets wagon owner Bumpy Snits, his daughter Ornery Sue, rambunctious cowgirl Subliminy Jill and travelers Romeo Jones and Lewis Clark Jefferson.

During a disastrous ferry crossing, the group come into possession a treasure map which leads to the famed jewel mine, El Glitterado, which was fished off a shady peg-legged passenger named Three-Eyed Jack who ended up going over a waterfall. In the scuffle to claim it, the map is torn by all parties and, as neither is willing to give up their piece, the group agree to work together to get to their goal. Of course as one can expect with clashing personalities, they can barely avoid trying to kill each other as they head to their destination while following a wagon trail and getting into misadventures. Along the way they find orphan brothers Billy and Toady Bartly, survivors of a destroyed wagon train, who join their trek. There's also the fact that Three-Eyed Jack isn't as dead as thought...


A very obscure piece of animation. The movie was only shown twice on Cartoon Network and was screwed over, being put in horrible time slots with Invisible Advertising. It was hoped to be picked up for a series, but CN ultimately passed on it and the movie wasn't seen for eight years, only finally appearing on Youtube in 2012. It should be noted that this series is much more mature than Hey Arnold! due to the (at the time) looser censorship of Cartoon Network and the fact that nearly all the main characters are adults or entering adulthood (save for the orphans).

More than 15 years later in 2019, Randall P. McDuff made a very surprising and unexpected cameo in the Series Finale of OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes "Thank You For Watching The Show".

The movie can be viewed in it's highest definition here.


Party Wagon provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Jill
  • And the Adventure Continues: Another map, another treasure hunt, this time out in California. Not to mention Three Eyed Jack is still on the loose.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Well somewhat - the Party Wagon manages to beat Jack in a jousting match and send his wagon over the side of a cliff as well as get his second treasure map, but he emerges from it without harm and gets away with his ill-gotten jewels to boot.
  • Bar Brawl: Not a bar room per se, but the the movie opens on Randall's wedding with all the occupants starting a fight.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: The Wagon Master's daughters - also, Billy/Milly, Sue, and Jill.
  • Brick Joke: During one of their campfire stops, the orphans put a cactus in one of Bumpy's boots. When they confront Three Eyed Jack again a few days later, Bumpy thinks he's been shot. When told by Lewis he's fine, he wonders why his foot hurts.
    Bumpy: (Takes off his boot and pulls out the cactus) Now how long that been in there?
  • Didn't Think This Through: Jack when he confronts the group a second time, with a ferry plan that wound up losing him the map in the first place. History pretty much repeats itself with the ferry going down rapids, getting smashed and everyone thrown into rushing water. Jack even mutters to himself after seeing yet another waterfall that it would've been a better idea to ambush the group further down the river.
  • Disguised in Drag: Randall disguises himself as a blond woman while escaping his bride's family, and later on when he needs to hitch a ride on the ferry. The disguise is seen through near instantly both times.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: Ornery Sue initially gives the impression of being a very cold and harsh young woman, prone to melodramatic pronouncements and generally giving most of the party the cold shoulder. However, she also shows a much softer side, being willing to help Randall sew his clothing up, and opening up to him when he shares in her interests in books. Given her father's personality and attitude towards her interests, as well as her lack of a mother, there's an implication of her feeling extremely isolated and alone, with no one (until Randall) being willing to reach out to her and give her interests a fair try.
    • Her father is also in the same boat. Bumpy is shown to be rude, greedy and oftentimes prone to less than upstanding behavior. However, much like his daughter, the absence of his wife and his inability to connect to his daughter seems to have been a major factor in their strained relationship, and given his willingness to help the two orphans, it's clear that the man is not as bad as he initially seems.
  • Mexican Standoff: The group get into one when a bounty hunter mistakes Randall for a outlaw.
  • Mirror Character: Despite their distaste for each other the Wagon Master and Bumpy both sleep with a stuffed toy. The former has a dolly while the latter has a teddy bear.
  • No Romantic Resolution: None of the romances are settled-Randall and Jill have an Almost Kiss but it's unknown if anything would come of it given the age difference, Billie's crush on Randall, the implication that Sue has feelings for Randall and Romeo charming the Wagon Master's wife and daughters. It's likely had this got turned into a show, this would've been explored more.
  • Older Than They Look: The sixteen-year-old Randall is surprised to learn Jill is actually twenty-seven.
  • Properly Paranoid: Bumpy when it comes to the map. He also starts having nightmares about Three-Eyed Jack on their tail, not surprisingly he's right.
  • Punny Name: Ornery Sue, whose mother was a Sioux Indian, making her literally an ornery Sioux.
  • The Reveal: Jack is actually a criminal who nicked all his jewels in a robbery in San Francisco. El Gitterado isn't a mine, it's his hideout.
  • Shout-Out:
    Jill: It's the friendliest town I know!
    • The Wagon Master is one to Vernon Wormer from Animal House, even putting the group on "Penultimate Probation" at one point.
    • When the group enters Seattle one of the shops is none other than a coffee place called Starbucks.
    • Bumpy uses the phrase "safe as milk."
    • "So this is's Nirvana!" "Nothin' but mud, honey."
  • Steampunk: Jack's "wagon".
  • Skyward Scream: The wagon train master does this constantly whenever the Party Wagon does something rowdy or usurps his authority.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Jill finds out that Billie is in fact, a girl in disguise. "Billie's" real name is Millie. (Jill promises to keep her secret.)
  • Token Minority: Lewis, who is the only black member among the bunch.
  • True Companions: The Party Wagon are generally tight-knit group, which all of them trust eachother enough to be given a piece of treasure map for each members, even Bumpy tear two new pieces of treasure map to the new members, Billy/Milly and Toady.
  • The Wild West
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: How Sue usually speaks due to learning English by reading Shakespeare.
  • You All Meet in an Inn: All the characters meet each other while taking (a rather cheap and shoddy) ferry across a river.