It wasn't just Ernest that needed to go back to school
Just to make things clear, am not an Ernest detractor and actually consider most of the films imperfect but fun in a guilty pleasure sort of way. Watched 'Ernest Goes to School' with the same mindset as watching the previous five films (all better) and, while not terrible, still consider it one of the weaker 'Ernest' films.
'Ernest Goes to School' is certainly not without its redeeming qualities. The school setting is nicely rendered with a fun vibe, while the music is affectionate and full of breezy energy without being too loud. It's hard still not to relate to Ernest, the sort of character that is a well-intended serial bungler with a strong heart but always finding himself messing up.
Jim Varney does do a good job with what he has, he is enjoying himself and is a likable presence even though he overdoes it slightly in the mannerisms. Some of the dialogue while not exactly sophisticated is funny and there are a few scenes that raise a laugh, especially the music room scene.
However, too much of the humour is too childish, crude, overdone and recycled. Even for someone very quick to defend Ernest and his previous films, the dumbness was overkill and there is not a shred of originality or sharp timing. The football scene is pretty embarrassing.
The story lacks the lively pacing to make up for its paper-thinness, the direction is close to inept and the film is one of the cheaper-looking films in the series (we're talking amateur cheap here). Of the cast only Varney works. The rest are either barely trying or annoy the heck out of you, the younger cast members do grate.
Overall, one of the weaker 'Ernest' films and one of the more difficult ones to defend. 5/10 with sincere apologies. Bethany Cox
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