WAGONS EAST! is a tragically unfunny comedy, a dismal sendoff for a funny guy, John Candy, who died from a heart attack at 43 before filming was completed. As western comedies go, this is at the very bottom of the heap, which is where it ended, boot-hill’d at #141 among the herd in 1994, with only half of its worldwide gross of $8,200,000 coming on home ground.
The Old West of the 1860s. A group of clods who can’t make a go of their uncivilized surroundings hire a boozy wagon master (Candy, hiding under a beard) to lead them back home to the East. Chief idiots include a wisecracking doctor (Richard Lewis, slumming under anesthesia), a hooker—of course—(Ellen Greene, self-sabotaging) and a gay bookseller (John C. McGinley, offending the idea of bad taste). Encounters with the Sioux (happy to see them scoot) and gunslingers hired by our old villain pal “The Railroad” mark the journey. There may be a half dozen laughs in the whole caboodle.
The pitiful 107 minutes were directed—if you can call it that—by Peter Markle ,who did swell jobs on Bat*21 and Flight 93, but was way off his feed here. Ditto down for screenwriter Matthew Carlson. He’d whipped up smartly amusing material for TVs The Wonder Years and Malcolm In The Middle, but drew some dank mud on this crapshoot.
Shot in Mexico, in Sierra de Organos National Park and the town of Sombrerete, as well as around the wild western-movie workhorse of Durango. With Robert Picardo, Russell Means, Rodney A. Grant, Ed Lauter and Charles Rocket. Just awful.