Based on Dan Aykroyd's personal experiences. In 1978, he was pulled over for speeding in a rural town in the Northeastern United States. The police officer took him to the local Justice of the Peace in the middle of the night for a trial.
Roger Ebert famously hated the movie so much that he refused to write a review for it after giving it one of his most emphatic "thumbs down" reviews ever on Siskel & Ebert (1986). On the show, Ebert said that when he went to a weeknight showing of the film in 1991, the theatre was almost abandoned except for him, a few lone adults, and several teenagers who were making loud, rude comments at the screen; Ebert famously went over to the teens and asked them to be even louder so he didn't have to listen to the terrible movie anymore.
The navigation system shown is an ETAK system. Etak was an American company who introduced the first digital map navigation system in 1985, however other companies had been working on analogue systems. In 1990, the first GPS systems were introduced by Mitsubishi Electric and Pioneer. The system shown in this movie was not a GPS system, but works on stored maps and dead reckoning.
Chevy Chase did not like the script, but took the leading role because he wanted to work with his friend Dan Aykroyd, and thought they could improve the movie by improvising. Chase later said that Aykroyd took a huge career hit when the movie bombed, because he had taken on so many roles (Director, Writer, Actor, and Producer) that no one else had a high enough profile to take blame for how bad things turned out.
Dan Aykroyd described the problem of having an obvious old-time Western set for shots of a town. They solved it by painting a yellow line down the middle and not lighting the buildings as much as possible.
The song that plays whenever Judge Alvin activates the tabletop train during the dinner scene is "Wabash Cannonball" as performed by Doc Watson, who originally released his version of this very old song in 1982.
What inspired this movie, was one day Dan Aykroyd imagined his friend John Candy in drag, and burst with laughter, for several weeks, every time he imagined that image, he would burst out with laughter, so Aykroyd decided to write a movie, where Candy would play a woman, he thought of a plot later.
The film was set to be released under the title Valkenvania, scheduled to release In November of 1990, then pushed back to December. The December 1990 issue of Starlog promoted the film under this title. After poor test screenings found, among other things, that no one understood the title, the film was delayed to February 1991 under its final title.