Santa Claus: The Movie Recap

Jamie

When Santa’s forward-thinking assistant Patch attempts to streamline the North Pole’s production line he fails to maintain QA/QC and leaves in disgrace. Going to work for a ruthless toy maker in order to prove himself, he inadvertently turns the world against Santa. Can Patch and Santa patch things up before it’s too late? Find out in… Santa Claus: The Movie!

How?! The film starts with a gritty reboot of the Santa origin story. Who was he? Why a dumbo who took his family out on a sleigh during a horrific blizzard (against the advice of everyone) and ended up freezing to death. Or at least that’s an interpretation of what you see, as just as Mr. and Mrs. Claus are about to die they magically awaken to find themselves transported to the North Pole as part of a prophecy fulfilled. Santa will spend all of eternity doing what he loves, making toys and bringing joy to children across the world. Centuries later Santa is still chilling making toys and all the kids around the world kinda know he exists. One Christmas he seems particularly tired and he decides to get an assistant. Enter Patch, the overly-enthusiastic and forward-thinking elf dead-set on taking the North Pole production line into the 20th century. Unfortunately, despite being a mechanical genius, Patch doesn’t totally appreciate impact of his new technology on quality assurance (a message that every boy and girl can relate to). After Santa delivers the presents he is horrified to see that most of them are returned as defective. With no other choice he makes another elf his assistant. The only bright spot that Christmas is that he made friends with a homeless boy in NYC named Joe. In the intervening year Patch heads to NYC to convince a super evil toy maker to hire him so he can show his stuff to Santa, while Joe becomes friend with the evil toy maker’s niece, Cornelia. The next Christmas Santa is old news when Patch’s new flight-powering lollipop is a holiday hit. Super sad, Santa is pretty much Mopey McMoperson and ready to give up, but Joe and Cornelia overhear that the evil toymaker’s new super lollipops are dangerous and get Santa to come and help save the day. In the end Santa saves Joe and Patch using the classic Super Duper Looper (duh) and everyone loves Christmas and Santa. Also the evil toymaker dies when he flies into space using his own flying candy. Hoisted by his own petard. Nice. THE END.

Why?! Santa only wants to bring joy to children, but also gets real sad when a competing toy maker brings joy to them and Santa isn’t A-1 in their hearts anymore… so it’s kinda that he wants to be the only one to bring joy to kids. Oh and he likes to steal kids. At the end he just kind of keeps Joe and Cornelia in the North Pole. The bad guys are cartoons.

Who?! I swear if this was made five years later Donald Trump is in it. Alas, not much for this section other than a special thanks to Frans J. Afman, a banker that was involved in film financing for a while, particularly in the age of smaller studios like Cannon and the like. Apparently he was knighted by the Queen of The Netherlands for his contributions to film, so he’s no slouch. I look forward to my own knighting ceremony.

What?! The product placement in this film is art. Our poor homeless kid Joe spends his day looking longingly into the window of a McDonald’s. Not just for the delicious food but the sense of family and community (you know?). When he finally does get fed by Cornelia he doesn’t get his McD’s (bullshit), but she does leave a delicious Coca-Cola to quench his thirst and seal their friendship in iron.

Where?! Split almost evenly between the North Pole and NYC. Both play a pivotal role in the film and should rightfully get double billing in terms of the setting. I’m not sure where the beginning of the film took place before Santa almost froze to death… I guess probably Sweden or something. A.

When?! Not so secret Holiday Film alert. The story takes places over several centuries, but the most important things happen on Christmas… also Lithgow tries to start a new holiday on March 25th called Christmas II that is now a BMT Holiday. We celebrate that now. A.  

This truly had the makings of a BMT classic. It oozes earnestness. Even when they are throwing around delicious McDonald’s and Coca-Colas in our faces, it still smacks more of gee whiz than corporate exploitation. It’s that kind of earnestness that blinds people to just how ridiculous the film that’s being made truly is. Unfortunately the first thirty minutes of the film was actually a bit too good. The set design was actually impressive. To truly experience this film you have to just watch the latter half where things go way way way way off the rails. First and foremost is John Lithgow who puts on a masterclass in what is one of my favorite performances of all time. He ate entire set pieces with his giant fake chompers. Add on top a really odd QA/QC storyline and a Chekov’s Super Duper Looper sleigh trick (that no one could possibly figure out would be the key to saving the day) and you’ve got a BMT holiday classic on your hands. Can’t wait to force feed this to my kids every Christmas. As for Santa with Muscles it made me sad and not since Transmorphers have I felt such sadness as I watched something. I couldn’t tell if Hulk Hogan was just being himself or was actually acting or if anyone was actually trying to make a film.  Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! It’s the origin story everyone was clamoring for. They got it in stop motion, and now they brought it to the masses live action. It’s the movie that put the Saint in Saint Nick, and da da da da da I loved it! Not really, let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – I literally had no idea what this film was prior to watching it. I was very shocked to realize it was our first John Lithgow film, and watching the trailer he was obviously the key to why this movie could be amazing. FOOOOOOR FREEEEEEEE?!?! Is one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen and it makes me so so happy that the trailer editor didn’t hide that from the viewers. He or she knew what I wanted and gave it to me in spades, which made me a little more excited for a film I would usually default to probably-boring.

The Good – The beginning is actually a fine television movie level origin story for Santa. I actually genuinely think the first third is better than Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town, the Rankin/Bass production it’s storyline is closest to. I also quite like how unabashedly it leans into the magical part of Santa. They don’t try and explain things too much, it is basically just like “you’ll live forever, this stuff makes reindeers (and children) fly, you just magic into and out of houses, don’t worry about it!”. I kinda dug that.

The Bad – The second half of this film is pretty bad. The instant Joe sits outside of a McDonald’s drooling at not only the delicious (and nutritious!) hamburgers, but the familial love that McDonald’s naturally attracts everything turns into a joke. Like, yo, Santa, you can do whatever you want, why not give Joe a house? What, is Joe the only homeless kid in New York City? The first half you have to buy into just magic existing. The second half takes it a step too far and tries to paint a world that is just far enough from how everything actually works that it is really hard to pick up what they are putting down. The movie is insane and could actually be one of the most misguided film we’ve watched, and as Jamie says, it is very very earnest in what it is trying to sell.

The BMT – You notice anything missing from the two above sections? No Lithgow! That’s because I’m putting him here. His performance is easily the most “thanks, I hate it” performance we’ve seen in BMT. It is off the wall, bananas, bonkers, I’m running out of adjectives to describe it! I both love it, and realize it is the craziest thing ever, and that is kind of the punctuation mark on why Santa Claus: The Movie is amazing. Pop that into a two hour long commercial for McDonald’s and Coca-Cola, and mix in a very (very) earnest Christmas film where Santa (probably) dies in the beginning and you get a perfect monster of a movie.

Roast-radamus – Easily a When? (Not so secret holiday film) as mentioned, an unabashedly pro-Christmas film. And also a What? (Product Placement) because Da-da-da-da-da I’m lovin’ McDonald’s now. And wash that down with an ice-cold Coca-Cola. I couldn’t tell but I think they cut the part of the film where Mrs. Claus was like “naw, green is not his color … can we dress him up as a giant Coca-Cola can?”. I actually do think we have a Who? (Planchet) for Lithgow’s assistant whom Lithgow shits on all film and insinuates is gay (I think? It’s hard to tell). The Where? (Setting as a character) for a New York City filled with McDonald’s loving families (and homeless children, and evil toy makers). And How? (Chekov’s Blank) for Chekov’s Super Duper Looper which is inevitably used to save Joe and Patch from their exploding flying car. And naturally this slides head first into a BMT award … my god, it’s running the gamut! It legit qualifies for all of the categories!!!

StreetCreditReport.com – As far as worst Christmas films? It gets seven here. And thirteen here. It is well known in bad movie circles for being a quintessential bad Christmas film. And I think as we quickly approach the end of this cycle I can safely say that the movie’s rejection from the worst movie of all time wiki page is cred enough. But this got the cred.

You Just Got Schooled – There wasn’t much in terms of direct Santa Claus: The Movie accoutrements to consume alongside the film itself, so I took the opportunity to listen to a movie podcast where they reviewed the film. We Hate Movies is one of the most famous bad movie podcasts around. And I have to say, this episode was very funny, and very informed. They basically rehashed the storyline while adding in funny asides (like the John Carpenter version of this film complete with synth soundtrack, and a Jessie Ventura impression that was spot on). I still think I like The Flophouse more. We Hate Movies felt very rehearsed and I found myself not laughing as much as I do with The Flophouse’s more off the cuff tangents. Be warned though, some of their podcasts appear to be behind a Patreon funded paywall which is fine, but just something to know up front, the whole catalog is not free.

Bring a Friend Analysis – This week was Bring a Friend week and we watched another Christman classic: Santa with Muscles starring Hulk Hogan. So … I’m not sure why a movie like this exists. Why would Hulk Hogan do this? Was he trying to act? Or was this just his character at the time? It was supremely confusing, a strange mash up of two films. In one film the eeeeeevil businessman Hulk Hogan bumped his head, thinks he’s Santa, learns to love again, and saves the orphanage. In the second a mall Santa (Hogan) saves the orphanage from the eeeeevil businessman (Ed Begley Jr.) and his crew of eeeeevil scientists. And they just … put those two scripts together and went on their way? I hated watching this film. But I think it is valuable to see what the mid-90s direct-to-video kids’ market was like … and it was trash. Good to know.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

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Santa Claus: The Movie Preview

Jamie and Patrick slowly circle the mailman twins looking for an opening. Despite whirling backflips and patented twin chops they find that their opponent’s twin power is strong and every move is deftly countered. Tiring, Jamie and Patrick know what must be done. With lightning quickness they transition from a simple high five into a capoeira-inspired gymnastics-dancing-kung fu move. Flying into the air, feet akimbo, Jamie it able to connect, leaving their opponents shocked. The mailman touches his bloodied face and knows that this is the end of the battle. Blood has been spilled, identicalness has been spoilt, the power of the medallion has failed them. “Take it,” the leader says tossing them the medallion. A look of recognition crosses his face and he squints at them, “who… who are you two?” Patrick shakes his head and turns away saying, “We’re not important. It’s who we’re looking for that is.” Inspecting the medallion, though, they realize that it is just a worthless trinket. “Hey! What gives!? This ain’t worth jack!” They yell, thinking the mailmen have deceived them, but at that moment a chilling sound pierces the air: the cackling laughter of the troll. Saboteur! He knew this whole time that the medallion was a simple bauble! From behind a rock he emerges, “I’ve come for my favor,” he grunts. Jamie and Patrick look at him in disgust, but know he has won. Everyone knows their word is their bond… it’s a rule, and they don’t break rules. “What do you want from us?” Jamie asks, fearing what dastardly plan he has in store. “A simple task,” the troll says with a sneer, “You know a jolly fat man named Santa?” Jamie and Patrick are frozen in horror, they know what’s coming, “I want him, and I want him dead.”

Meanwhile… hoods pulled up high, the two prisoners get a drink in a gritty bar. They think of the long road across the wasteland still left and the anger wells within. A couple of muscly St. Patty’s Day Leprechauns tap them on the should and tell ‘em to scram. The prisoners crack their knuckles.

That’s right! We’re watching the Dudley Moore classic, and definitely a film we had heard of prior to deciding to do it … Santa Claus: The Movie! Not only that, but we are pairing it up with another holiday classic Santa With Muscles starring Hulk Hogan! Boy, oh boy, it’s like Christmas in April! Let’s go!

Santa Claus: The Movie (1985) – BMeTric: 20.0

SantaClausTheMovieIMDb_BMeT

SantaClausTheMovieIMDb_RV

(Oh we’ve seen this before. The giant jump in 2014 I mean. I can’t remember what my explanation was … probably a big New Years vote purge or something. It really is a-tumblin’ though, people just love Dudley Moore I guess.)

Leonard Maltin – 2.5 stars –  Story of how Santa came to be starts out so wonderfully – with eye-filling looks at his North Pole toy factory, reindeer, and sleigh – that it’s too bad the rest of the film (with contemporary tale of humbug kid and greedy toy magnate) can’t measure up. Still entertaining, just a bit less magical than it should have been. Referred to as Santa Claus: The Movie everywhere but on-screen!

(Interestingly solid review. Kind of like Double Dragon then, starts off with a kind of quaint vague interest, but then the rest of the actual plot catches up and ruins it.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzFDcjesuVs

(I love John Lithgow. “FOOOORRRR FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE?!!!?!?!??!” I’m already kind of excited)

Directors – Jeannot Szwarc – (Known For: Jaws 2; Somewhere in Time; Future BMT: Supergirl; Bug; BMT: Santa Claus: The Movie; Notes: He started in television on shows like Night Gallery. He’s returned to television since, directing an episode of Grey’s Anatomy this year for example. French, but raised in Argentina.)

Writers – David Newman (story & screenplay) – (Known For: Bonnie and Clyde; Superman; Superman II; What’s Up, Doc?; Still of the Night; Bad Company; There Was a Crooked Man…; Future BMT: Sheena; BMT: Superman III; Santa Claus: The Movie; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay for Sheena in 1985; Notes: Edited Esquire in the 60s, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Bonnie and Clyde.)

Leslie Newman (story) – (Known For: Superman; Superman II; BMT: Superman III; Santa Claus: The Movie; Notes: Married to David Newman until his death in 2003, is a cookbook author as well.)

Actors – Dudley Moore – (Known For: 10; Arthur; Foul Play; Bedazzled; The Wrong Box; Micki + Maude; Lovesick; The Bed Sitting Room; Future BMT: Arthur 2: On the Rocks; Wholly Moses!; Blame It on the Bellboy; Crazy People; The Hound of the Baskervilles; Unfaithfully Yours; The Pickle; BMT: Santa Claus: The Movie; Notes: Died of progressive supranuclearl palsy in 2002. Notable for his height of five foot two inches.)

John Lithgow – (Known For: Pet Sematary; Interstellar; This Is 40; The Accountant; Shrek; Late Night; The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension; Footloose; Miss Sloane; Twilight Zone: The Movie; The Tomorrow Man; Rise of the Planet of the Apes; Cliffhanger; Bigfoot and the Hendersons; Terms of Endearment; All That Jazz; Orange County; The Homesman; Dreamgirls; 2010: The Year We Make Contact; Future BMT: Pitch Perfect 3; Confessions of a Shopaholic; Daddy’s Home Two; A Good Man in Africa; Leap Year; Silent Fall; BMT: New Year’s Eve (uncredited); Santa Claus: The Movie; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Supporting Actor for Cliffhanger in 1994; Notes: In 2017 he co-authored a New York Times crossword puzzle.)

David Huddleston – (Known For: The Big Lebowski; Blazing Saddles; Rio Lobo; Frantic; The Producers; Capricorn One; McQ; Breakheart Pass; Bad Company; Future BMT: Postal; Smokey and the Bandit Ride Again; Joe’s Apartment; Something to Talk About; Life with Mikey; The World’s Greatest Lover; BMT: Santa Claus: The Movie; Notes: Served in the Air Force and most well known as Lebowski in The Big Lebowski.)

Budget/Gross – $30–50 million / Domestic: $23,717,291

(That seems like a complete disaster. What were they thinking, that Christmas films just printed money?)

#38 for the Christmas genre

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(This is our fifth Christmas film for BMT. I don’t know why they would be becoming more popular recently … maybe with a good economy people like to think about giving and receiving gifts more?)

Rotten Tomatoes – 20% (4/20):

(My consensus: Thinnly plotted, cheap looking, and dated. This 80s Christmas film is a bore. Reviewer Highlight: Little kids will probably like most of this movie. The weakness is that larger kids and parents, deputized to escort the little ones, are likely to find a lot of it a little thin. – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times)

Poster – Sklogtacular Christmas Extravaganza (B)

santa_claus_the_movie

(Really hard to find a decent picture of this poster. Not a good sign for the film itself. From what I can see I think there is something artistic in this that I kinda like, while also acknowledging that it looks old as shit and it’s time has passed it by. But like, check that font, look at the weird perspective, and guess what? I’m pretty sure I know this is about Santa Claus.)

Tagline(s) – Guess who’s coming to town! (D-)

(Uh… Santa? I’m still not sure what the plot of this film is… like is Santa’s workshop being bought by an eeeevil land developer and he has to work to stop him? Or like… does someone have to take over for Santa for some children appropriate reason… like he ate too much candy and hot chocolate and is now in a diabetic coma? That’s fine for kids, right? Anyway, I’m sure it something like that. Just wanted to speculate since I definitely didn’t want to talk about this snoozer of a tagline.)

Keyword(s) – toy; Top Ten by BMeTric: 76.1 Paranormal Activity 4 (2012); 75.4 Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (2009); 73.8 Look Who’s Talking Too (1990); 70.2 Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964); 69.5 Postal (2007); 68.5 Gulliver’s Travels (2010); 64.2 Exposed (III) (2016); 63.4 Poltergeist III (1988); 60.8 Toys (1992); 59.9 Alvin and the Chipmunks (2007);

(We’ve seen none of these?! And now we still haven’t)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number N/A) – There is no current way to connect this movie to Here on Earth via BMT. If we were to watch Unfaithfully Yours, and The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 14.

(Actually an anomaly. Lithgow was uncredited in New Years Eve, so he’s been in a BMT film, but that doesn’t count in this analysis)

Notes – All the toys made and bought for the Santa’s workshop scenes were donated to children’s charities for Christmas after shooting was complete.

The role of the Ancient Elf was written with James Cagney in mind. However, even though Cagney liked the film’s overall idea, his advanced age and weakened physical condition precluded him from taking the role.

In the U.S. trailers for the film, Dudley Moore gets top billing and David Huddleston gets third billing. In the international trailer, Huddleston gets top billing and Moore gets fourth billing.

Real deer were trained to pull the sleigh. The crew required months to complete the training which also allowed the deer to grow their antlers for the final filming. For shots where it was not possible to use the deer, sophisticated animatronic deer were used. (Hahahahhahaha)

The film’s budget was £50,000,000, which as of this writing (2015) would be equivalent to £140,000,000. (Hahahahahhahaa)

Burgess Meredith, who is fourth-billed, has one scene and eight lines. (This seems like a trend in this film)

When Patch is viewing the BZ Toys display in the New York window, a van painted exactly like the one on The A-Team (1983) is parked on the street behind him.

The role of B.Z. was offered to Harrison Ford, Burt Reynolds, Dustin Hoffman and Johnny Carson, all of whom turned it down.

John Lithgow, who is second billed and the main bad guy, doesn’t appear until more than an hour into the film. (Wowza)

Paul McCartney was originally going to write and perform a theme song, but his record label declined.

The movie had promotional Tie with McDonald’s, Coca- Cola and Pabst Blue Ribbon. McDonald’s gave a away one of four books with each happy meal, which chronicled the story of the film. (WHAT)

Ernest Goes to Jail Recap

Jamie

Ernest is back, Jack! Right? It’s the same guy each time? Anyway, unbeknownst to Ernest he has a doppelganger on death row. A fateful turn on jury duty unexpectedly gets them switched and his whole life is turned upside down when he’s stuck in jail. Can he escape, stop the criminal, and get the girl before it’s too late? Find out in… Ernest Goes to Jail.

How?! Meet Ernest P. Worrell. A dim but well-meaning janitor at a bank. Everyone there loves him and wants him to succeed as a future bank teller except the cranky president of the bank. Booooooo. Oh and he also becomes magnetic whenever he is electrocuted instead of dying. Not sure why. Anyway, in a wild coincidence he is called to jury duty for the trial of a toady for a local crime lord, Nash, who is just days away from his time in the electric chair and is an exact doppelganger for our poor Ernest. Realizing an opportunity the criminal convinces the judge to allow the jury to tour the prison during which the crime lord pulls the ol’ switcheroo and leaves poor Ernest in his place. Double boooo. While Ernest tries to navigate the hilarious world of maximum security prison, Nash is planning to rob the bank, sexually assault Ernest’s very kind female coworker (and love interest?), and probably do a whole bunch of other nasty stuff. Ernest attempts to escape to no avail, only to find that when they try to electrocute him it merely imbues him with super electromagnetic powers. With said powers he blows that joint (with the help of a prisoner with a heart of gold, Lyle) and gets to the bank just in time to try to stop Nash from blowing the vault and killing his coworkers. An all-out brawl ensues ending with Ernest once again getting electrocuted, gaining the ability to fly via polarization, and flying the bomb into the night sky where it appears he is killed. However, he falls back to Earth right on top of Nash, incapacitating him for good and then smash cut. THE END.

Why?! I’m actually not sure… I think it has something to do with the American dream. Like sure Ernest is dumb, but he’s nice and works hard, so shouldn’t that count for something? Interestingly they don’t make any claim that Ernest is actually good at his job despite his shortcomings. In fact they make it clear that he is quite bad at it. A convicted killer on death row comes straight out of jail and is so much better than Ernest at his job that he is immediately offered the promotion that Ernest has been trying hard to get. It’s actually kinda sad when you think about it.

Who?! Big time shout out to the true friend Ernest met in Jail, Lyle. He’s a big enforcer type who turns out to have a heart of gold (and an unrivaled mane of hair). The actor was actually former professional kickboxer and heavyweight boxer Tex Cobb. He’s probably best known for getting absolutely destroyed by Larry Holmes in an unlikely title fight. Some interesting rumors surrounded his career, including some drug and gambling stuff that was allegedly connected to his sudden retirement from the sport in 1993 and a claim that he was supposed to be the opponent for Muhammad Ali’s last fight but broke his arm saving a friend from a bar fight and had to back out.

What?! In some ways you can think of the entire franchise as a product placement. Ernest started as a character used in a number of commercials and eventually he himself became the product. Ironically once that became the point all the products in this film are cartoon versions and not real product placements.

Where?! Unsurprisingly, given Ernest’s roots, this film is set in the great state of Tennessee. Even if it weren’t predictable, it’s made clear at the very least by the Tennessee license plates on some of the main characters’ cars. C.

When?! This is actually a funny question. There is a calendar in Ernest/Nash’s cell with dates being crossed off, but there doesn’t seem to be much indication of what month the calendar is supposed to represent. Likely this is just a prop calendar, but I like to think that it is actually a nonspecific generic calendar that they give prisoners. You do see a January 1990 calendar hanging in the bank. Again likely just grabbed a prop and hung it up to the first page, but gotta assume the bank is actively using the calendar and it’s accurate. KnowhutImean? B-

So I watched Ernest’s “friend” Escape Plan: Hades first and that film is a whole bunch of nonsense. At times I thought they were speaking a different language or something because it was hard to follow exactly what was happening. It looked nice, though, with its fancy robots and fancy prison and fancy fight scenes. But it’s all fluff and was actually pretty boring. As if they didn’t really care to make a comprehensible film, but rather just an entry in their visual portfolio so they could try to get an even bigger and fancier job. I can certainly see why it didn’t go to theaters. As for Ernest, I daresay I actually kinda enjoyed myself. Ernest is just a silly character and his schtick lands quite often as he mugs and goes off on some overly-serious monologue on acting or business or the like. I can understand why I liked the films as a kid even if I almost definitely didn’t understand how crazy the attempted sexual assault by Nash is or the fact that Ernest is nearly executed via electric chair. Probably a full twenty minutes where the film starts to venture into the twilight zone away from the harmless fun that otherwise makes the franchise what it is: enjoyable stupidity. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Sometimes I forget that the Ernest films were a real thing. Like … if my parents had told me that it was some Canadian TV movie and that no one else had seen it I would have just shrugged and said “yeah makes sense”. But it isn’t … this was released to over 1000 theaters in 1990. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I watched the trailer, and made the notes, and read the reviews … but I still had a sneaking suspicion I would like this film. Why? First because I watched it as a kid. Something about Ernest must just remind me of simpler times. But more important I’ve watched Ernest Goes to Camp more recently, about 7 years ago, and I thought that was actually a lot better than you might think. I was sure I was going to think the same thing here.

The Good – Ernest is goofy harmless silliness. Varney himself is top notch, with both the physicality necessary for a kids’ movie character and the ability to do some goofy impressions. As the heart and soul of the film there is little more I would ask him to do. I dig the surrealist atmosphere this movie takes, the bright pink guard uniforms, the completely open prison cells with twenty foot ceilings, a world filled with goofy caricatures. It all kind of works on a straight-to-video level.

The Bad – The film is aggressively dumb, and in that sense all of the reviews are totally justified. The love story comes across as creepy now I think as it is abundantly obvious Ernest had either a learning disability or has serious emotional issues he should be working out with a therapist. The film is crazy dark with Ernest going to the electric chair and basically killed while the prison warden looks on in glee. Super nuts. The film is extremely derivative, relying exclusively on the doppelganger / Prince and the Pauper trope to drive the story forwards.

You Just Got Schooled – The story of Ernest is pretty interesting, at least what you can glean from IMDb notes and elsewhere. This article seems like a pretty good roundup. Short story: Varney wanted to be an actor, but struggled to establish himself on the stage in NYC. Bouncing between his home in Kentucky and New York he ended up landing a spot with Cherry, an ad man. They ended up doing hundreds of commercials together, and then got a four picture deal (which Ernest Goes to Jail is part of). Afterwards they settled into a more lucrative straight-to-video deal, but unfortunately Verney died in 2000 prior to filming Ernest Goes to Space and Ernest and the Voodoo Curse (which I would have called Weekend at Ernest’s 2, but whatever). Fascinating stuff, a really really unique only-in-the-90s type franchise I think.

The BMT – Do I think Ernest is a BMT franchise … no. I don’t. Despite the fact that I would say that I’m fairly objective when it comes to films I saw when I was a kid (Hook, I’m looking at you), I can’t help but like Ernest. I think he’s harmless fun, so there. The character is sweet, and naive, and always tries to do what’s best. What’s wrong with that? Nothing I think … although they are pretty bad. I reserve the right to change my mind, but for now Ernest is pretty okay nonsense.

Sklogwords – After moving Welcome to Earth to the preview I needed a new game, and noticing that The Movie Database is a little light on keywords what bigger service could I provide the world that filling in entirely too accurate keywords for BMT films. For Ernest I chose the following ten in order: Prison, prison break, magnetism, bank robbery, janitor, electric chair, Tennessee, doppelganger, impersonation, animal actor. The funniest one is probably either doppelganger (where the film Southland Tales tends to come up a lot) or Tennessee which, fun fact, is also the setting of the Hannah Montana Movie! And now I’m the number one editor of the film Ernest Goes to Jail on TMDB. So there.

StreetCreditReport.com – There is really nothing here, which isn’t that surprising. Do you know what is surprising? That one of the main reasons listed in reviews as to why Ernest was unbearable was that he was either “too nerdy” or “too geeky”. Like, say what? It doesn’t feel like he is either of those things. At the very least he has a learning disability, but geeky? Nerdy? What was up with the early 90s yo?

Bring a Friend Analysis – As the number of wide release bad movies has dropped in the past few years I’ve often thought that it is likely that at least some of them are going direct to VOD. And Escape Plan 2: Hades seemed like a perfect test of this theory. Wrong! Wrong! The first film was surprisingly good, a decent team-up in Stallone and Arnold, a classic 80s actioner really. This? This is trash. This is dog poo thrown forcefully into my face. It has robots, and terrible actors, and AI, and … it is gibberish. It makes you feel like you are taking crazy pills. And then there is a ton of guns and killing … I just wanted some prison escapes man! This is worse that Prison Break season 2 when they forgot the show was about breaking out of prisons! On the one hand I’m glad to hear that, no, not all VOD features are suddenly on BMT’s radar. On the other I watched Escape Plan 2: Hades in real life, that is something I spent some of my short time on Earth doing. So that’s depressing. B as a friend, F- as an actual movie fit for human consumption.

Phew, long one, but I have a feeling the Bring a Friend cycle will tend to be that way. Cheerios,

The Sklogs

 

Ernest Goes to Jail Preview

Creeping silently down the corridors of the Super Duper Commando HQ, Jamie and Patrick are quaking in their boots. They never thought the ancient scroll would turn out to be true. They never thought that only one of them may survive. Turning a corner they confront the Commando wielding the Sword of Destiny. “Poor children,” he laughs, “So ill-equipped. So pathetic.” Suddenly he throws a samurai sword and a mesh tank top to Patrick. “To give you a chance,” he scoffs and takes a fighting stance. Patrick drops both to the side, “it doesn’t have to end this way, Commando. We are all humans. You were once too. Remember what it was like to feel the grass between your toes, the wind in your hair, the smell of fresh baked bread?” The Commando begins to break, licking his lips nervously. “Heh, right. I have power, though. Better than all that.” Patrick steps forward, “Is it? Is it power? Or is power the love between a mother and her child, the ocean’s tides, or a fresh squeezed glass of lemonade?” He steps forward again and he embraces the Commando who is now weeping. The Commando steps back wiping his eyes and throws his sword away. “Thank you,” he says quietly, “for everything.” Suddenly a powerful gust of wind blows through the hallway and sends Patrick’s sword flying through the air and decapitates the Commando. “Jesus Christ!” Both Jamie and Patrick scream and they are surrounded by police. “Freeze, dirtbags!” The Commander shakes his head sadly. “I’m sorry lads, this is the end of the line. And you had such a promising career in t-shirt sales.” He puts them in handcuffs and leads them to jail. That’s right! We’re watching Ernest Goes to Jail! And not only that but we’re watching it as part of a new segment in the cycle as of 2019. We loved Bring a Friend so much that it is now a permanent part of the cycle. It replaces the Games segment since we just gotta make it our beeswax to work on our games 24/7/365. For this entry Ernest is bringing along an unexpected Jail Break Friend in Escape Plan 2. It’s the sequel to the Sly Stallone original and came and went without making it into theaters. This gives us a chance to see just how shitty it turned out. Let’s go!

Ernest Goes to Jail (1990) – BMeTric: 37.2

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(Honestly? Shockingly high. I’m quite surprised that it has nearly 10K votes. I wouldn’t have been surprised if I was told that Ernest Goes to Jail was some fever dream of mine from when I was a kid and literally no one else knew about it …)

Leonard Maltin – 2 stars –  Third in the surprisingly successful series about Ernest P. Worrell finds out hero in prison as a result of a switch set up by an evil inmate look alike (also played by Varney). Harmless, predictable, and hokey.

(That review … doesn’t sound like a 2-star film. But yes. It is harmless and hokey for sure. Basically, if you read the reviews for the other films it boils down to this: this series is for literal dumb people. He’s not wrong …)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4zNSx42aEo/

(That … isn’t a real trailer, but whatever. These films are a lot more surreal that you would think given the character. Ernest Goes to Camp is the same way, a very weird film. I’m extremely interested in seeing just how terrible this film is.)

Directors – John R. Cherry III – (Known For: Ernest Goes to Camp; Future BMT: Ernest Saves Christmas; Ernest Scared Stupid; Ernest Rides Again; BMT: Ernest Goes to Jail; Notes: He developed Ernest at his Nashville advertising agency. He apparently based it on a person who had worked for his father.)

Writers – Charlie Cohen (written by) – (BMT: Ernest Goes to Jail; Notes: Apparently was an executive producer of Justin Bieber’s Believe.)

Actors – Jim Varney – (Known For: Toy Story; Toy Story 2; Atlantis: The Lost Empire; Ernest Goes to Camp; Daddy and Them; 100 Proof; Future BMT: 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain; Ernest Saves Christmas; Ernest Scared Stupid; Ernest Rides Again; Wilder Napalm; BMT: The Beverly Hillbillies; Ernest Goes to Jail; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst New Star for Ernest Goes to Camp in 1988; Notes: Given how famous he eventually became, it is crazy to think that Ernest was his actual starting point. He began portraying Ernest in 1980 in local commercials in Kentucky.)

Gailard Sartain – (Known For: The Outsiders; The Replacements; Mississippi Burning; Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe; Ali; The Jerk; Nashville; The Grifters; The Buddy Holly Story; The Big Easy; Ernest Goes to Camp; All of Me; Blaze; Made in Heaven; Guilty by Suspicion; Choose Me; Trouble in Mind; The Moderns; Songwriter; Love at Large; Future BMT: Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot; The Patriot; Getting Even with Dad; The Real McCoy; Ernest Saves Christmas; RocketMan; Speechless; Clean Slate; Elizabethtown; Roadie; The Hollywood Knights; Equinox; BMT: Wagons East; Ernest Goes to Jail; Notes: A regular on Hee Haw, he was only in the first three Ernest films, eventually being replaced in his role.)

Bill Byrge – (Future BMT: Ernest Saves Christmas; Ernest Scared Stupid; BMT: Ernest Goes to Jail; Notes: Worked at the Nashville library (what what!). He retired in 1995 at the age of 63. IMDb claims he did it to focus on acting, but he didn’t appear in anything else, not even the subsequent Ernest films.)

Budget/Gross – N/A / Domestic: $25,029,569

(Hmmmm. Let’s see what The Numbers says … nothing. My guess is this film cost literally nothing to make. The entire franchise made less than $100 million at the box office. Four theatrically released films, at least six overall. Less than $100 million. Yeah, these things cost nothing.)

#24 for the Comedy – Bumbling genre

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(By far the worst we’ve seen in the genre which should just be renamed Kevin-James. Just a shade below Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol … which is an embarrassment.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 13% (1/8): No consensus yet.

(My fake consensus is pretty short: Ernest is an obnoxious and I hate him. It pretty much sums up the consensus. The one good review is pretty hilarious though. Reviewer Highlight: Jim Varney at the peak of his comedic powers, playing two instantly distinctive roles. If you only ever see one Ernest movie, make it this one. – Luke Y. Thompson, New Times)

Poster – The Sklogs Go to Jail (B+)

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(Certainly interesting. I like the artistic perspective and the special font they used. It’s also just kind of funny and makes me want to see the film, which is obviously a good thing. Only wish the coloring was better.)

Tagline(s) – Guilty of Maximum Fun in the First Degree! (F)

(Oh noooooooooooooooooooo! This may actually be the worst tagline I’ve ever seen. Fortunately I don’t see it on the poster. I wonder where they used that atrocity. Looking around it seems like maybe the kicker on the description on the back of the VHS box… so phew, not really a tagline, but I’m keeping it because it’s ridiculous.)

Keyword(s) – jury duty; Top Ten by BMeTric: 57.1 Jury Duty (1995); 38.2 The Juror (1996); 37.2 Ernest Goes to Jail (1990); 17.1 Trial by Jury (1994); 16.1 Illegally Yours (1988); 13.4 Leslie, My Name Is Evil (2009); 11.4 Suspect (1987); 10.5 Fantozzi alla riscossa (1990); 7.6 Runaway Jury (2003); 3.4 Murder Most Foul (1964);

(Holy shit. For reals the top three are incredible … and then it just drops off. You’d think more bad movies would involve jury duty. It does at least remind me that we should watch Jury Duty.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 19) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists  using only BMT films is: Jim Varney is No. 1 billed in Ernest Goes to Jail and No. 1 billed in The Beverly Hillbillies, which also stars Lea Thompson (No. 6 billed) who is in Left Behind (2014) (No. 3 billed), which also stars Nicolas Cage (No. 1 billed) who is in The Wicker Man (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 5 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 1 + 1 + 6 + 3 + 1 + 1 + 5 + 1 = 19. If we were to watch Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot, and The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 16.

Notes – There were a few extended and deleted scenes that were not featured in the original version of the movie, but were in some made-for-TV versions. 1. There was an extended scene where Ernest was washing himself in a washing machine, and was staggering after he stepped out. 2. A scene where Ernest was trying to sneak out of jail and was found by the searchlights. Then, he was making shadow puppets. 3. An extended scene where Nash (as Ernest) was in Mr. Penalsmythe’s office negotiating the clerk job. 4. A deleted scene where Ernest was working as a bank clerk. (I … think the version I watched as a kid had at least a few of those. Definitely first scene was there)

This is the last Ernest movie to have the character Chuck played by Gailard Sartain. (Yup, he’s replaced in Ernest Scared Stupid)

Among the famous eccentric actors whom Ernest imitates in jail when trying out for “Mr. Nash”, are James Cagney, Walter Brennan, Humphrey Bogart, Barry Fitzgerald, Sylvester Stallone, and James Mason. During the impression of Sylvester Stallone the line that Ernest says is “Hey you, Murdock, you’re the guy who shot my brother…” The character of Murdock was played by Charles Napier in Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985), which starred Stallone. Charles Napier plays Warden Carmichael in Ernest Goes To Jail. (FUN FACT)

Gailard Sartain, Charles Napier, and Randall ‘Tex’ Cobb appeared on the TV series “Walker, Texas Ranger” (1993-2001), with Napier playing a prison warden on that show as he did in this film.

Before Ernest is put in the electric chair, he is asked if he wants a blindfold or a cigarette. Ernest responds with, “I’m afraid of the dark, and cigarettes’ll kill you.” Ironically, ten years later Jim Varney died of lung cancer that was brought on by a lifetime of smoking. (Yeah, his Nash voice is I think his natural smoker’s voice)