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Ernest Goes to Jail (1990)

PG | | Comedy, Crime, Family | 6 April 1990 (USA)
Bank janitor Ernest P. Worrell is called to jury duty and soon finds himself in trouble when the lookalike defendant's attorney arranges a switch and has Ernest sent to prison in his client's place.


John R. Cherry III (as John Cherry)


Charlie Cohen




Cast overview, first billed only:
Jim Varney ... Ernest P. Worrell / Mr. Nash / Aunt Nelda
Gailard Sartain ... Chuck
Bill Byrge Bill Byrge ... Bobby
Barbara Tyson ... Charlotte Sparrow (as Barbara Bush)
Barry Scott Barry Scott ... Rubin Bartlett
Randall 'Tex' Cobb ... Lyle
Dan Leegant ... Oscar Pendlesmythe
Charles Napier ... Warden
Jim Conrad Jim Conrad ... Eddie
Jackie Welch ... Judge
Melanie Wheeler Melanie Wheeler ... Prosecutor
Jeffrey Buckner Ford Jeffrey Buckner Ford ... Defense Attorney (as Buck Ford)
Daniel Butler Daniel Butler ... Waiter
Charlie Lamb Charlie Lamb ... Another Con
Mac Bennett ... Con


Bumbling Ernest P. Worrell is assigned to jury duty, where a crooked lawyer notices a resemblance with crime boss Mr. Nash, and arranges a switch. Nash assumes Ernest's job as a bank employee, while Ernest undergoes Nash's sentence to the electric chair. But instead of killing him, the electrocution gives Ernest superhuman powers, enabling him to escape from jail and foil Nash's attempt to rob the bank. Written by Mark Hettler <markh@nstl.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Guilty of Maximum Fun in the First Degree!


Comedy | Crime | Family


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Two of the prisoners are wearing Toronto Blue Jays baseball caps during Ernest's first visit at the mess hall and when he's walked to his cell. See more »


When Charlotte and Ernest are in the restaurant and the spoon flies up and sticks to Ernest's shirt, the wire is visible on the spoon as he puts it back down on the table. See more »


Felix Nash: This guy is better off in jail.
See more »

Alternate Versions

An extra scene of Mr. Pendelsmythe and Nash talking before Nash breaks Mr. Pendelsmythe's golf trophy. See more »


Spoofs Casablanca (1942) See more »


Doin' Time
Music and Lyrics by Bruce Arntson
Performed by Bruce Arntson
See more »

User Reviews

Funny, Harmless, Silly, Stupid, Safe, etc.
6 January 2007 | by ccthemovieman-1See all my reviews

This "Ernest film" is a typically silly, stupid-at-times one but still wholesome in its humor and sometimes very funny.

The best moments in here, at least the ones that made me laugh hardest, were in the bank with Jim Varney ("Ernest") and a runaway vacuum cleaner. Yes, there is a lot of juvenile humor in here, but the totally-innocent lightweight humor is fun.

Varney also does some imitations in here, and he's quite good at it. He's done this in several of his movies and it is always entertaining.

For those wondering about their young kids watching this, there is absolutely no offensive language in this movie, too. Now that's a rarity for a 1990 film.

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Release Date:

6 April 1990 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ernest Goes to Jail See more »


Box Office


$9,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$6,143,372, 8 April 1990

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

Production Co:

Touchstone Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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