Sunday, February 24, 2013
Bad/Awesome Flixxx Review: Ernest Goes To Camp (1987)
"If he had faith in The Great One, the knife would not cut him. If he had courage; *true* courage, the rock would not break him. If the brave was pure of heart, the arrow could not catch him." - Nurse St. Cloud
"Ernest, you got a turtle on your nose man!" - Moose
"I did it! I took the Lindbergh baby! I am 'Josef Mengele' qv! AAAHHH!" - Ernest P. Worrell
This is basically an 80s "camp" camp movie perfected. They took the formula from the late 70s/early 80s and used every element to create the perfect backdrop for Jim Varney's dim witted signature character. This was the first (and best) in a long line of Ernest flicks (although he had an earlier cameo in a direct to video flick called DR. OTTO AND THE RIDDLE OF THE GLOOM BEAM). The thing that really got me while re-watching it after so many years was the montage songs. They really did describe what was happening in the movie. Its so wild, and this wasn't a spoof a la WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER, they were really going for it with this one. Jim Varney is Ernest P. Worrell in ERNEST GOES TO CAMP!!!
When the film begins we are in a flashback sequence where a young native American brave goes through a trial to test his courage and spirit. Flashforward to the present the same land where this took place is now Kamp Kickakee where our hero Ernest P. Worrell works as kind of a maintenance man and really wants to be a councilor. He's worked very hard to learn the ancient sign language of the only resident living from the tribe that the camp is named for. This man's daughter is the nurse at the camp. When the summer begins, the head councilor announces that in conjunction with some program the camp is bringing in some troubled youths to the camp for the summer much to the chagrin of the councilors. He sends Ernest to pick them up.
Meanwhile a company is buying up all the surrounding land to put developments on and the head dude is sending his lawyer lackey on rounds to get everyone who's been holding out to sign over now or else. Ernest picks up the delinquent kids and they immediately seize the opportunity to roll over him. They begin by making him play a guessing game while driving and almost make him crash the bus. The boys are put in the care of Councilor Stannis, a real prick. They get into a fight in the cafeteria right away and are sent to a really shitty cabin. After Stannis throws the youngest/smallest "Moose" in the water knowing he can't swim, the boys retaliate and throw Stannis in the water by pushing the lifeguard chair over breaking his leg. The boys are almost kicked out of camp, but Ernest begs for them to have another chance. They officially make him a councilor and he goes about it in his way, fouling up for the most part, but giving it all of his heart.
I should note that my favorite part of this movie is the two cooks Jake and Eddie, and their quest to make the ultimate dish "eggs erroneous". They build a machine that you can throw food items into what looks like a trash can and it shoots out the meal on the other side. So the only people holding out signing their land over to the developers is the old chief, and the lawyers talked his head off with him to no avail. So the head guy gets a sniper rifle and goes to speak with him. The boys begin to get along and decide to compete in the games, building a teepee only to have the rich asshole campers burn it down. This pisses them off, and makes them not care again. The head developer tricks Ernest into getting the chief to sign over the land effectively killing the camp. The next morning the head master tells everyone they have to close, to pack up and get ready to go home. Ernest decides to go fight them and gets the shit beat out of him. Then he sings and cries.
The boys decide they absolutely don't wanna go back to "juvi" so they come up with a plan and get Ernest on board to help them. Then there's this montage of them building this ridiculous Ewok village/pirate ship on top of a converted school bus. Its almost too unbelievable, but I guess you can buy into it if you consider how resourceful these young criminals are. They even get the asshole rich kids to help. EVERYONE'S FRIENDS NOW! And then there's the big showdown at the end. This is a total kid's movie, but the nostalgia makes it totally watchable. If you are young or grew up in the 80s, you'll definitely get a kick outta this one.