This fifth instalment in the Ernest movie franchise once again brought Ernest P Worrell – the character that became a mid-80s pop culture craze via a series of pratfall-filled TV commercials starring comedian Jim Varney in his rendition of the American backwoods moron stereotype – to the big screen.
Rubbery-faced goofball Ernest and his timid college history professor pal Abner Melon (Ron James) unearth a huge Revolutionary War cannon – known as “Goliath” and reputed to contain the crown jewels of England – in rural Virginia. Before long, a host of bad guys and British secret service agents are hot on their heels.
Scene after scene make no sense at all. If power tools aren’t operating magically to chase Ernest around a construction site and shoot nails into his head, then Ernest is riding a runaway cannon that rolls all over the countryside powered by the same mysterious force that drove the phantom tools.
Add t this the non-stop parade of visual non-sequiturs and the utter denial of any physical laws, and what you have is a cartoon with flesh-and-blood action figures.
Ernest Rides Again – a cheap and shoddy affair distributed independently after Disney dropped the franchise – was a box office bomb and the final Ernest film to be released theatrically. Subsequent films in the franchise were made for the straight-to-video market.
Jim Varney died of lung cancer on 10 February 2000, aged 50.
Ernest P Worrell