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 if there ever was one as the movie was only shown twice on Cartoon Network. 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 recently finally appearing on Youtube in 2012. It should be noted that this series is much more mature then Hey Arnold! due to the looser censorship of the network and the fact that nearly all the main characters are adults or entering adulthood (save for the orphans).
The movie can be viewed here.
Party Wagon has the following tropes:
- 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?
- The Casanova: Romeo
- Coming-of-Age Story: For Randall
- Dean Bitterman: The Wagon Master's a western parody of this trope.
- 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.
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Sue.
- Family-Friendly Firearms: Averted, true to the setting, everyone's packing real guns.
- Fiery Redhead: Jill.
- Five-Man Band
- Gadgeteer Genius: Lewis.
- Grumpy Old Man: Bumpy.
- Heroes Want Redheads: Randall to Jill.
- Inevitable Waterfall: Twice.
- Left the Background Music On: Sue does this a lot with the organ
- Mexican Standoff: The group get into one when a bounty hunter mistakes Randall for a outlaw.
- Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Jill and Randall.
- Not So Different: 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.
- 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.
Jill: It's the friendliest town I know!
- Casper the friendly...town.
- 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.
- Steam Punk: 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.
- What Could Have Been: Alas another cartoon that fell by the wayside. Still a TV Movie nothing to sneeze at.
- 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.