Wagons East! records John Candy’s final hours spent before the cameras, and, unfortunately, they were far from his finest. Everyone’s creative burners were on low heat for this woeful outing [from a screen story by Jerry Abrahamson].
Gag here is completely related by the title: a bunch of Old West pioneers who have had enough of bank robbers, cattle rustlers, drunken boors and intolerant know-nothings decide to head back from whence they came. To guide them east, they hire wagonmaster James Harlow (Candy), who has a pretty shaky sense of direction.
In ultra-politically correct fashion, the Indians are only too happy to oblige and escort the palefaces out of their territory, but the trek is vehemently opposed by the big-money rail interests, who fear bad publicity if word of the malcontents gets around. Fat cats hire an inept gunslinger and, finally, the Cavalry to make sure the bumbling crew doesn’t make it back.
The dialogue and the characters’ neuroses are insistently contemporary, with colloquialisms and ’90s urban lingo cascading out of everyone’s mouth. Candy looks heavier than ever and seems rather listless.