"Death row? You mean like the chair, the hot seat, dead meat, deep six, it's over pal, you're outta here bub, the groundhogs are bringing you your mail, you're picking turnips with a step ladder, the no tomorrow row? That kind of row? Oh no! The row?" - Ernest P. Worrell, Ernest Goes To Jail
When loveable bumpkin Ernest P. Worrell
is assigned to jury duty
, he's thrilled that he's been asked to do his duty as an American citizen. During the trial the defendant, a prisoner by the name of Rubin Bartlett
, notices that Ernest is the exact twin of evil crimelord Felix Nash
. Bartlett proposes a deal to Nash: they will arrange to switch Ernest with Nash during a jury visit to the prison so that Nash can go free and Ernest will live out Nash's remaining sentence... until he's sent to death row
. Once the switch is made Nash finds himself working at Ernest's job - overnight janitor
at the bank, which he plans to rob - and Ernest finds himself stuck with Nash's cronies in prison as he prepares for the electric chair
. Such is the setup of the 1990 John R. Cherry III
-directed film Ernest Goes To Jail
, the third of the Ernest
Following in the footsteps of actors such as Eddie Murphy and Mel Brooks, star Jim Varney portrays multiple roles as both Ernest and Nash. While Ernest is the same bumbling fool we know and love, Nash is a different beast altogether. While he looks like Ernest physically, he wears his hair slicked back along with an ever-present sneer. In prison Nash's buddies, Bartlett (Barry Scott) and Lyle (Randall "Tex" Cobb), train Ernest on how to be Nash. He does rather well at first after he nails the persona he is forced to play (although his Auntie Nelda persona does appear briefly in a prison breakout scheme) and the two characters live parallel lives up until it's time for Nash, nee Ernest, to go to the electric chair. However the chair merely magnetizes Ernest instead of killing him. Dubbing himself "Electro Man" Ernest breaks out of prison with his amazing, albeit temporary, magnetic powers. Once freed he tracks down Nash on the very night the crimelord is trying to rob the bank and the two fight it out as the police close in. Watch for more Electro Man action in the closing scenes as Nash is put in his place. Oh, and somewhere in the middle of all this are subplots about Ernest trying to start a romantic relationship with a coworker (Barbara Tyson) and Ernest trying to be promoted to bank teller over the objections of his boss, Oscar Pendlesmythe (Dan Leegant).
The films of the Ernest series have never been deep comedy, but they were successful at the box office and on rental video for a gross of over $25 million. Ernest Goes To Jail is the third of four films in the series to be released to the theaters (out of a total of nine films) and is considered by both fans and detractors alike to be the best of the series. The movie is available both on VHS and DVD (for $10; it's quite a bargain) and shows up syndicated on television from time to time. In fact, at the time of this writing it has been airing on HBO Comedy quite frequently. No matter how you choose to see it, just see it for some simple, enjoyable laughs. Knowhutimean?