DirectorJohn R. Cherry III PrequelErnest Saves Christmas Duration CountryUnited States
Release dateApril 6, 1990 (1990-04-06) CastJim Varney (Ernest P. Worrell), Gailard Sartain (Chuck), Bill Byrge (Bobby), Barbara Tyson (Charlotte Sparrow (as Barbara Bush)), Barry Scott (Rubin Bartlett), Randall 'Tex' Cobb (Lyle) Similar moviesRelated John R Cherry III movies
TaglineGuilty of Maximum Fun in the First Degree!
Ernest goes to jail
Ernest Goes to Jail is a 1990 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.
Ernest goes to jail network television premiere promo
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 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 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 death row inmate Felix Nash is a dead ringer for Ernest. Rubin's lawyer convinces 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 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.
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 is holding Chuck and Charlotte hostage. During the ensuing battle between the two of them he gets electrocuted yet again when Nash 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 a bomb that Nash had attached to the vault 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 passes out.
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)
The reviews for the movie were universally negative.
The movie debuted at No.3.
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.