43 user 13 critic

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?


This is the first Ernest movie where the character Bobby (Bill Byrge) speaks. He only says two lines. He would say only two words in the next movie Ernest Scared Stupid (1991). See more »


The pan lid flies into Ernest's face in the restaurant with its handle towards him. When he pulls it off, the handle is facing away from him. See more »


Felix Nash: Is everyone who works here a moron?
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 »


Followed by Your World as I See It (1994) See more »


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

User Reviews

Gotta love Varney
25 March 2011 | by bug76See all my reviews

Some may say that people will get tired of Ernest. It's hard to believe. He's been gone for 11 years and there's still no sign of people forgetting Ernest. If people were tired of him much earlier on, why, I ask you, did Varney make 4,000 commercials? Yes, 4,000. I didn't add an extra 0 here. That's unheard of with any one else. Varney was the only one to reach cult status with 30 second ads. I don't even like commercials and I found his thoroughly entertaining. I loved them so much,I bought them on DVD. With that said, "Ernest Goes to Jail" is hilarious. And, we get to see him play bad-guy, Mr. Felix Nash-quite a difference from Ernest's goofball slap stick. Nash is far from Ernest, being organized, clever and mean. In this installment from the Ernest line, Varney shows off his God given rare talents. Looking in the mirror in jail, he tries to come off as Nash by using different voices and facial contortions. It never fails to make me laugh. The ink pen scene is classic. It's so funny watching him try to clean off the ink only to smear it worse all over his face. Plus, he gets electrocuted 4 times in this movie. "Hey,Vern! No one gets electrocuted like Varney, KnoWhutImean?" The beginning of the movie has Ernest trying to start the floor polisher only to have it take on a mind of its own by dragging Ernest all over the floor and up the wall. Ernest's screams are just adorable. Especially 4 minutes and 34 seconds into the movie. Any other jail movie would be loaded with violence and bad language and the fact is, I wouldn't care to watch them. This is probably the only jail movie that was free of vulgarity and was still a treat to watch. Varney made his Ernest movies kid friendly-for all ages to enjoy. C'mon, we all know that Ernest was Jim's true calling because mostly everyone refers to him as Ernest. And no one will ever be able to replace him. I know that Vern missed Ernest. He even left a note for Ernest at www.vernssuicidenote.blogspot.com. I've read it. It's quite humorous as well. When I first saw "Ernest Goes to Jail" at 14 when it first came out, I wanted a house like Ernest's, right down to that cool washer and dryer. The 'electric toothbrushes' would be pretty nice to have, too. Brush all your teeth at the same time in half the time. We all know that Jim paved the way for people like Jim Carrey and Larry the Cable Guy, but Varney kept it clean. Though, Jim Varney is still my number 1. Of course, with any Ernest movie, it will receive the highest rating possible.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 43 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.


Official Sites:

Official Facebook





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:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Touchstone Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed