44 user 13 critic

Ernest Goes to Jail (1990)

PG | | Comedy, Crime, Family | 6 April 1990 (USA)
Ernest P. Worrell is a bank janitor sent to jail when people mistake his identity for a look-alike.


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?


Of all the famously eccentric actors whom Ernest imitates at a mirror in jail, Sylvester Stallone is the only actor who was not a classic one at the time. He is the only actor who was still alive and who was still acting in movies during and after the time this movie was made. See more »


When the shop vac goes up the walls and on the ceiling, huge creases are in the walls and ceiling to keep the vacuum in contact with what it is rolling up against. See more »


[Ernest and the crew he's with are being forced to go into a jail cell, and Ernest is mistaking the prison he's in for his jury crew, and a guard comes up from behind him and hits him]
Ernest P. Worrell: I hope you've got a good story to tell my boss! After all, I do have a living to earn.
Mean prison guard: Now look, Nash -...
Ernest P. Worrell: My name is "Worrel, Ernest P. Worrel."
Mean prison guard: Oh, Mister Funny-Man, huh? Yeah, Mister Funny-Man. You'll think funny when you're tapping to the tune of 2-20, son!
[throws him into his cell, right next to them]
Ernest P. Worrell: That is the...
See more »

Alternate Versions

When aired on TV, this movie has extra scenes not features in the home video release. Like: When Ernest get's both steel balls cuffed to his legs, he originally started with one but he pulls another stunt and the bailef makes it two; At the very end, Ernest is finally a bank clerk, his computer shorts out and he becomes magnitized once again, except nothing metal clings to him. Except the file cabinets back for a rematch; Ernest getting his last meal before going to the chair; See more »


Referenced in Saturday Night Live: Alec Baldwin/The B-52's (1990) See more »


Nash Sleaze
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

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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