Movies & Videos
Navigation Bar
Navigation Bar

Partners:
    Related Item
 
'Ernest Goes to Camp'

By Hal Hinson
Washington Post Staff Writer
May 23, 1987

 


Director:
John R. Cherry III
Cast:
Jim Varney;
Victoria Racimo;
John Vernon;
Iron Eyes Cody;
Lyle Alzado
PG
Parental guidance suggested


Marketplace Online Shopping

Compare prices
for this movie


Find local video stores
WP yellowpages
More movie shopping

Save money with NextCard Visa

The mental age of the new film "Ernest Goes to Camp," featuring Jim Varney as Ernest P. (the P stands for "Powertools") Worrell, is about 13 -- that is, the age when the side-splittingest thing in the world is fake vomit or a whoopee cushion or any joke made at the expense of your little sister.

But "Ernest Goes to Camp" is not a full-tilt grossout. In fact, on the relative scale of young-teens-at-camp movies, it's pretty gentle stuff.

Dressed in his signature denim vest, gray T-shirt and platypus-billed cap, Ernest looks a little like Daffy Duck, but without feathers -- he's his own cartoon likeness -- and the same sort of rampant bad luck that plagues Daffy bedevils Ernest, too. He's a sort of walking zero, the definitive sad sack; standing right in front of you, he's missing in action. To say that Ernest is accident-prone is an understatement. The physical world is in rebellion against him. Everything he touches -- golf carts, ladders, nature in all its various forms and guises -- becomes his sworn enemy. Life, alas, is not his friend.

But if Ernest is a dopey hayseed, he's an eager one. His goal is modesty itself -- to become a full-fledged counselor at a boys' summer camp named Kamp Kekakee (pronounced with a stutter: K-K-Key). Ernest has a mission: "Shaping and molding youthful minds into a focused world view." And no one has ever been more ill-suited to the task.

Although the film is little more than a slapstick showcase for the nosey-neighbor character Varney has played in TV commercials, it's not the slapped-together piece of work you might expect. John R. Cherry III, who created the Ernest character and directed Varney in his commercials -- and served as director and cowriter here -- has some sense of how to set up a gag onscreen, and he's got a feel for how to draw on his performers' strengths. As a result, the movie is fairly inoffensive, and younger kids may get a real boost out of its us-against-the-world spirit. It's not as off-the-wall funny as "Meatballs" (which, even with Bill Murray's hairy-strawberry performance, wasn't one of the movies' prouder moments); it's lacking that movie's funky impudence. In its place, there's an almost naive quality. Believe it or not, it's kind of like Ernest -- bumbling and big-hearted and one brick shy of a load. Ernest Goes to Camp, at area theaters, is rated PG.

   
© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

Back to the top

   
Navigation Bar
Navigation Bar