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 1980s 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.
- Book Ends - Ernest monologuing about what it means to be a camp counselor, and then falling off a ladder.
- 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.
- Determinator - Ernest himself, once he's pushed far enough. 'They ain't gonna get this camp!'
- Edible Ammunition - Edible explosives, too.
- Fake Nationality - Iron Eyes Cody, who played Chief St. Cloud, was actually a Sicilian-American.
- This is Truth in Television, as often times in film and television, particularly during the olden days, Native-Americans were often played by Italians (or Jews).
- 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.
- 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.
- Improvised Weapon - Tons in the Grand Finale.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. To be fair, it's Lampshaded that everyone thinks he's gone insane by the end of it.
- Slobs Versus Snobs