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
(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 …)
(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
(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+)
(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)