Film / Ernest Goes to Camp
A family comedy from 1987, Ernest Goes to Camp
is the first of the Ernest P. Worrell
series of movies. It introduced the Ernest character onto the big screennote
and launched the movie career of the late Jim Varney.
Ernest is a handyman at Camp Kikakee who wants to become a camp counselor, but his clumsiness
keep getting in the way. Eventually, he is put in charge of a group of juvenile delinquents that no one else wants to put up with, and he wins their begrudging respect with the help of the camp's owner, Chief Saint Cloud
The camp's future is in danger, however, when an unscrupulous mining corporation discovers that the camp sits on top of a rare mineral deposit. Using the unwitting Ernest as a proxy, they trick the Chief into signing over the deed to the land. Can Ernest and his Ragtag Bunch of Misfits save the camp
This film provides examples of:
- A-Team Montage: An excellent example. There's nothing better to kick greedy miners off your land than improvised war machines built to the tune of a pumping 1980's power ballad.
- Afraid of Needles: Ernest goes through some outrageous antics to avoid getting an immunization shot.
- Amoral Attorney: Subverted—Krader's lawyer persistently tries to talk his client out of his various dirty deeds, even when he is within his legal rights.
- Award-Bait Song: "Gee I'm Glad It's Raining"
- Badass Grandpa: Chief St. Cloud.
- Bilingual Dialogue: Ernest and Chief St. Cloud, along with sign language.
- Book Ends: Ernest monologuing about what it means to be a camp counselor, and then falling off a ladder.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Ernest's first monologue.
- Chekhov's Gun: The maintenance cart that always gets away from Ernest.
- Also the lantern that takes off like a rocket, the clogged-up toilet, the ill-tempered pet turtle, and the barbecue machine that nearly drags Ernest into an open fire.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Sherman Krader.
- Death from Above: Snapping turtles with parachutes. Set to Ride of the Valkyries!
- Determinator: Ernest himself, once he's pushed far enough. 'They ain't gonna get this camp!'
- Edible Ammunition: Edible explosives, too.
- A Father to His Men: Although Ernest clearly isn't the father to any of the boys in camp, in his own simple-mindedness and naive innocence, he certainly feels like a father figure to them, even though they spent much of their time earlier in the movie pulling all kinds of devious stunts to make a fool of himself.
- Fisheye Lens: This movie loves them.
- Home Made Inventions: Ernest builds a barbecue which he operates using a length of fire hose cord attached to his foot, which ends up wrapping around the roasting spit and nearly dragging Ernest into the fire. Then there's the whole armory that Ernest and his troop build at the climax of the film. Then there's the two cooks and their Wonka-esque lunch machine.
- Improvised Weapon: Tons in the Grand Finale.
- It's Personal: Krader deciding to take matters into his own hands.
- Karma Houdini: The two campers who bully the last chance kids never seem to get punished by the camping staff for their actions, which include tripping Moose and setting their teepee on fire. The last chance kids fight back in both instances and seem to be the only ones to get punished, nearly getting sent back to the detention center after the last incident. Though the bullies do join them in saving the camp at the end.
- This is lampshaded when the kids are punished with digging while the bullies taunt them ("This isn't fair! They tripped Moose!").
- Played with regarding Krader. While his plans were foiled, there is no mention of him even being arrested for defrauding the chief into signing paperwork or shooting at Ernest in broad daylight.
- Kid-Appeal Character: Moose, the youngest of the "last chance kids", appears to be this. While the rest of them tend to be generic troublemakers, he's the only one with a real personality, being a generally nice kid (and there's no clue as to why he was in the detention center in the first place) and the first of them to like Ernest (after Ernest saved him from drowning).
- Lethal Chef - Jake and Eddie. Their 'abilities' and their Liver-Loaf Lunch Arranger are actually weaponized in the finale, bombarding the miners with concoctions like "graham cracker bouillabaisse" fired at high velocity. Not to mention the fact that Jake's Eggs Erroneous contains enough explosive power to take out a bulldozer.
- Although it turns out during the credits scenes that getting one of their infamous recipes right has some... interesting effects.
- Manly Tears
- Meaningful Name / Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Krader (read: crater) Mining Associates, Inc.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Ernest suffers one at the hands of Krader's enforcer.
- He and the boys then deliver one to Krader's entire force.
- Parental Bonus - At one point while being tortured with a booster shot Ernest blurts out, "I DID IT! I TOOK THE LINDBERGH BABY! I AM JOSEPH MENGELE!"
- Phony Veteran - To bolsters the kids' morale during a hike, Ernest makes some rather dubious claims about his experiences in 'Nam.
- Pyro Maniac: Ernest is implied to be one, judging by scene where he stares at a lit match in ecstasy until somebody interrupts him.
- Recycled In Space: Pristine land owned by Indians under threat from a mining company looking for a rare mineral? You're either describing this film or Avatar.
- Rule of Three - The Native American warrior in the beginning surviving the knife, rock, and arrow. Also Ernest in the ending, surviving three shots from Krader's rifle.
- Sad Times Montage - "Gee, I'm glad it's raining..."
- Saving the Orphanage - The camp, in this case.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Krader deciding to shoot Ernest. Exactly how did he plan to get away with that?
- How did Krader expect to get away with forcibly evicting people via bulldozer? Krader seems to be under the impression he's invulnerable. By the end of it, everyone thinks he's insane.
- Shout-Out: During a Rousing Speech to the second-chancers, Ernest encourages them "to boldly go where no man has gone before."
- Slobs vs. Snobs
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Nurse St. Cloud chews the boys out something fierce for not having faith in Ernest. Leads to a collective Heel–Face Turn.
- This Means Warpaint: Chief St. Cloud paints the faces of Ernest and the boys before the battle. Complete with tribal singing.
- Tricked Into Signing: Krader tricks the owner of Camp Kikakee, Chief Saint Cloud, into signing ownership of the camp over to him so that he can bulldoze it down.
- Turtle Power: Turtle paratroopers!
- Worst Aid: Just another way the boys mess with Ernest.