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Top 5 Ernest Movies
Jim Varney is a comedic genius. I'm not even kidding. He's up there with whatever comedian you personally consider a genius. Ernest can cycle through a half-dozen great characters in a single surreal montage. Compare that to Eddy Murphy, who can play five different characters and somehow manage to make me hate them all.
Without further adieu, the Top 5 Ernest Movies!
1. Ernest Scared Stupid.
Despite only being appropriate during certain times of the year, holiday movies are somehow more timeless than regular movies. And it's hard to think of a better kids' movie set on Halloween than Ernest Scared Stupid. Between this, Hocus Pocus, and a giant bag of candy, you're set for the night.
Ernest is a garbage man who accidentally unleashes Trantor, an ancient troll wizard who turns children into wooden toys. Together with the help of Eartha Kitt and two kid companions, Ernest must find a way to banish the two-nosed troll before the whole troll army is unleashed. This movie really holds up. There's plenty of "Halloween" content, from trick-or-treating to costume balls, and if you're a horror nerd like me, you'll appreciate some of the slimy special effects. In the words of Ernest, "Eww."
2. Ernest Goes to Camp
Ernest plays a maintenance man who dreams of becoming a Kamp Kikakee counselor. But just when he earns the respect a hodge-podge group of loveable rascals, Ernest accidentally signs over the sacred Indian land to an evil mining company run by John Vernon. This is arguably Ernest's best movie, but the lack of a Halloween theme makes it my second favorite.
What's a camp full of kids to do when their favorite camp is about to be turned into a strip-mine? If you jumped straight to "full-blown eco-terrorism," you probably skipped a few steps. This movie is a bit more reality-based than the rest, which makes it all the more awkward to watch Ernest lay siege on construction workers with his army of pre-teen guerrilla warriors, but before you get too snooty, keep in mind this is still an Ernest movie, filled with roaving power mowers, nose-biting turtles and an Indian legend that all but guarantees Ernest will be The One.
3. Ernest Goes to Jail
If Ernest Goes to Camp was a little too grounded, Ernest Goes to Jail is definitely not grounded. That's an electricity joke. If you want me to explain it, I charge extra. Jim Varney's act is like a Chinese bian lian face mask changing show. He can cycle through five or six characters in the blink of an eye. But this movie is unique in that he also plays another full-fledged character, one who definitely exists outside the realm of random comedy montage.
Ernest is a night watchman for a bank. He also happens to be a dead-ringer for notorious death row inmate Felix Nash. While on a tour of the prison, Ernest is shanghaied by one of Nash's goons, played by none other than Randall Cobb (the evil bounty hunter from Raising Arizona). In a sort of unwilling Prince and the Pauper situation, Nash steals Ernest's job and lady friend, while Ernest is strapped into the electric chair. But it takes more than that to kill him, I assume because his face is made of pure rubber. Ernest lives on after acquiring super powers, sort of like House 3 or Wes Craven's Shocker, only. you know, watchable.
4. Ernest Saves Christmas
I'm gonna level with you: Even though this is the most commercially successful Ernest movie, until recently, I didn't even know this movie existed! Like a paranoid Santa trying to avoid NORAD, it flew under the radar. I only just discovered this movie a few years ago, which makes it somehow more magical. It's like a Christmas present that fell behind the couch, only to be discovered in my 30s.
Ernest is a taxi-driver who befriends a teenage runaway that dresses like Punky Brewster. Together they encounter a man claiming to be Santa Claus. Think Miracle on 34th Street, only with elves, and a subplot involving a huge crate of reindeer held up in an airport. There's a lot of random fun, including a scene with Ernest pretending to be a toothy Hollywood agent. It's got a big finish, and as far as Santa movies go, it sure as hell beats anything starring Tim Allen.
5. Ernest Rides Again
Naming four great Ernest movies is no problem for even the slightest fan. But the fifth? That's kind of tricky. It's fine when Ernest goes to School, Africa, or joins the Army, but not nearly as memorable as those previously mentioned. But if there's one you can't accuse Ernest Rides Again of being, it's forgettable. This is the movie where Ernest rides around on a giant canon, and that's all there is to it.
Ernest is the successful dean of a college. Kidding! He's the janitor. Hey, if it works, don't fix it. And if it doesn't work it's probably because Ernest tried to fix it. He teams up with a nerdy archaeologist and winds up on a runaway canon that happens to be filled with the lost crown jewels of England. This isn't the funniest Ernest movie, but it's got a certain Saturday Afternoon charm. I like seeing Ernest match wits with honest to goodness criminals. Plus any time you combine a character like Ernest with a home construction site, the jokes write themselves.
Know what I mean, Vern?
Note: All images taken from Amazon, where you can -- and should -- purchase these fine movies on DVD.
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