Ernest Goes to Jail
|Ernest Goes to Jail|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||John R. Cherry III|
|Produced by||Martin Erlichman|
|Written by||Charlie Cohen|
|Music by||Bruce Arntson|
|Edited by||Sharyn L. Ross|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures|
|Box office||$25 million|
Ernest Goes to Jail is a 1990 American 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. Total gross was $25,029,569.
Security guards Chuck and Bobby 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 (who works as a night custodian but dreams of being a clerk) is trying to turn on for operation, 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 orders 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 a dead ringer for death row inmate Felix Nash and has his lawyer convince the jury to tour the prison, where Ernest is kidnapped by Nash and another inmate named Lyle and forced to switch places 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 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), angrily says that he is not funny, and is lying and throws him into the cell right in front of Lyle, who pushes him back. When he pushes him near the prison bars, he tells the guard that he was beaten up (and accidentally slamming the guard's head on the bars). The guard tells Ernest that he will be sent to the hole, which makes Ernest realize he is in jail. Bartlett tells him that Nash has assumed his identity and warns him to keep his mouth shut. Ernest makes several unsuccessful escape attempts, and is soon sent to the electric chair by the prison warden (Charles Napier).
The electrocution fails, and Ernest is transformed into a type of superhuman, with the ability to shoot lightning bolts from his hands. To make his getaway, he blasts a hole in the main gates. However, Bartlett obstructs the escape and attempts to kill Ernest himself, only for Lyle to intervene, knock Bartlett unconscious and allow Ernest to make his escape, knowing that Ernest is different from everyone else. Making his way home, he discovers that his Pee-wee Herman-like décor has been replaced by a slick Lounge Lizard style of decorating and exclaims, "I've been vandalized – by Elvis!" Meanwhile, Nash is preparing to blast open the bank's vault with a time bomb, with Charlotte and an unconscious Chuck bound nearby. Charlotte begs Nash not to go through with it, and he blurts the truth about being an impostor. Charlotte doesn't believe it until he points out he's done a far better job cleaning the floors than Ernest ever had. Ernest arrives and he and Nash do battle. Ernest gets electrocuted yet again when Nash harshly throws him against an electric 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 the bomb 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, which leads the warden and the guards to find out Ernest was right all along. Ernest tiredly declares, "I came, I saw, I got blowed up." and then faints.
- Jim Varney — Ernest 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
- Andy Stahl — Jerry (as Andrew Stahl)
- Bob Babbitt — Washing Con
- Myke R. Mueller — Vinnie (as Myke Mueller)
- Chambers Stevens — Jury Man (uncredited)
- Buck Ford — Rubin's attorney (uncredited)
The movie debuted at No. 3.
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This film's first DVD release was on September 3, 2002 from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment. Mill Creek Entertainment re-released it on February 10, 2008 as part of the Ernest 2-Movie Collection with Slam Dunk Ernest and on January 18, 2011, as part of a two-disc set Ernest Triple Feature along 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.
- "Ernest Goes to Jail". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved March 28, 2016.
- "Weekend Box Office Results for April 6–8, 1990". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-04-01.
- "Ernest Goes to Jail (1990)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-04-01.
- "Review/Film;Ernest Again, Invulnerable To Life's Inanimate Objects". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-06-05.
- "Ernest Goes to Jail". Deseret News. Retrieved 2012-06-05.
- "Ernest Goes to Jail". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2012-06-05.
- "'Turtles' Take: $50.9 Million in Two Weeks : Box office: The kids movie featuring the wise-cracking quartet of terrapins is close to setting a record for an independent film". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-05.