Ernest Goes to Jail

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Ernest Goes to Jail
Ernest goes to jail poster.jpg
Theatrical Release Poster
Directed by John R. Cherry III
Produced by Martin Erlichman
Written by Charlie Cohen
Starring Jim Varney
Gailard Sartain
Bill Byrge
Music by Bruce Arntson
Kirby Shelstad
Cinematography Peter Stein
Editing by Sharyn L. Ross
Studio Touchstone Pictures
Emshell Producers
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures
Release dates
  • April 6, 1990 (1990-04-06)
Running time 81 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $25,029,569

Ernest Goes to Jail is a 1990 Touchstone Pictures comedy film directed by John R. Cherry III and starring Jim Varney. It is the fourth film to feature the character Ernest P. Worrell. It was shot in Nashville and Tennessee State Penitentiary. This is the second most successful of the Ernest films, behind Ernest Saves Christmas. It was in third place during its opening weekend, earning $6,143,372.[1] Total gross was $25,029,569.[2]

Plot[edit]

Security guards Chuck (Gailard Sartain) and Bobby (Bill Byrge) play a game of Red light/Green light while being night watchmen for Howard County Bank and Trust and are obsessed with elaborate schemes of would-be thieves. They hear a sound coming from a floor polisher that Ernest is trying to turn on for operation - he works as a night custodian at the bank - and dreams that he would be a clerk, but he ends up making a mess in the bank and he becomes magnetic from a mishap with the floor polisher. The next day, bank president Oscar Pendlesmythe's assistant, Charlotte Sparrow (Barbara Tyson) requires him to clean up his supernatural mess. Pendlesmythe wants to terminate Ernest's employment at the bank, but Charlotte has a soft heart for misfits and stray dogs, so she argues on his behalf. Ernest takes a bath at home in a tumble dry washing machine and uses a blow dryer with a windtunnel force for his evening dinner with Charlotte in a restaurant. He later receives in the mail a summons to jury duty in court and tells the two watchmen about it. During the trial Dracup Maximum Security Prison convict Rubin Bartlett notices that Ernest is the spitting image of death row inmate Felix Nash. Rubin's lawyer convinces the jury to tour the prison, where Ernest is kidnapped by Nash and another inmate named Lyle and forced to swap roles with Nash. Even though he tries to tell the guards he is not Nash, they refuse to believe him. Ernest also does not know that he has a death sentence which is for Nash.

While having lunch, a guard tells them to stand up and be quiet, when he notices Ernest is making a lot of noise, which almost sends him into the cell. Ernest tries a first attempt to tell one of the prison guards that he is Ernest, not Nash, but the guard calls him "Mr. Funny Man" (which is a mistaken lie) and angrily says that he is not funny and is lying and throws him into the cell right in front of a cell mate who pushes him back while the first attempt fails. When he pushes him near the prison bars, he tells a prison guard that he was beaten up (and accidentally slamming the guard's head on the bars). A prison guard tells Ernest that he will be sent to the hole, which makes Ernest realize he is in jail. He has numerous misadventures in prison (especially when trying to escape, e.g., when he attempts to fashion a gun out of soap and his scheme is revealed when the gun goes limp) until he is sent to the electric chair by the prison warden (Charles Napier).

The electrocution fails, and he is transformed into a type of superhuman, with the ability to shoot lightning bolts from his hands, which shocks other jail members. Ernest escapes from the prison and makes his way home, only to discover that his Pee-wee Herman-like décor has been replaced by a slick Lounge Lizard style of decorating. He exclaims, "I've been vandalized - by Elvis!" Ernest then goes to the bank, in his old clothes, only to find that Nash has assumed his identity and is in the process of robbing the bank and during the ensuing battle between the two of them he gets electrocuted yet again when Nash throws him against a cage that the bank had rigged to drop from the ceiling to catch robbers. Now Ernest has become polarized and gained the ability to fly. He uses his super powers to fly through the skylight of the bank with a bomb that Nash had attached to the vault and two bank employees, which leads to a spectacular mid-air explosion. Everyone especially Chuck thinks that Ernest has been killed, until he falls through the skylight and lands on Nash. Ernest tiredly declares, "I came, I saw, I got blowed up."

Cast[edit]

  • Jim VarneyErnest P. Worrell, Felix Nash, Ernest as Auntie Nelda
  • Gailard Sartain — Chuck
  • Bill Byrge — Bobby
  • Barbara Tyson — Charlotte Sparrow (credited as "Barbara Bush")
  • Barry Scott — Rubin Bartlett
  • Randall "Tex" Cobb — Lyle
  • Dan Leegant — Oscar Pendlesmythe
  • Charles Napier — Warden Carmichael
  • Jackie Welch — Judge
  • Jim Conrad — Eddie
  • Emily Corbishdale — Betty McGee
  • Melanie Wheeler — Prosecutor
  • Jeffrey Buckner Ford — Defense Attorney (as Buck Ford)
  • Daniel Butler — Waiter
  • Charlie Lamb — Another Con
  • Mac Bennett — Con
  • Rick Schulman — Mean Guard
  • Bruce Arntson — Juror
  • Andy Stahl — Jerry (as Andrew Stahl)
  • Bob Babbitt — Washing Con
  • Myke R. Mueller — Vinnie (as Myke Mueller)
  • John Davis — Other Guard
  • Michael Montgomery — Warden Carmichael's Assistant
  • Mike Hutchinson — Gate Guard
  • Badd Catt — Jail Guard (uncredited)
  • Chambers Stevens — Jury Man (uncredited)
  • Paul Pigue — Spider (arm wrestler) (uncredited)

Reception[edit]

The movie gained a negative reception.[3][4][5]

Box office[edit]

The movie debuted at No.3.[6]

DVD availability[edit]

Mill Creek Entertainment re-released this motion picture on DVD on January 18, 2011 as part of a 2-disc Triple Feature set with Ernest Goes to Camp and Ernest Scared Stupid. They also released the film for the first time on Blu-ray on March 29, 2011 in a single disc Double Feature set along with Ernest Goes to Camp. The 2011 releases mark the first time the film has been available in widescreen.

References[edit]

External links[edit]