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A family comedy from 1987, Ernest Goes to Camp is the first of the Ernest P. Worrell series of movies. It introduced the Ernest character onto the big screen[1] and launched the movie career of the late Jim Varney.

Ernest is a handyman at Camp Kikakee who wants to become a camp counselor, but his clumsiness and absent-mindedness keep getting in the way. Eventually, he is put in charge of a group of juvenile delinquents that no one else wants to put up with, and he wins their begrudging respect with the help of the camp's owner, Chief Saint Cloud.

The camp's future is in danger, however, when an unscrupulous mining corporation discovers that the camp sits on top of a rare mineral deposit. Using the unwitting Ernest as a proxy, they trick the Chief into signing over the deed to the land. Can Ernest and his Ragtag Bunch of Misfits save the camp from destruction?

This film provides examples of:

  • A-Team Montage - An excellent example. There's nothing better to kick greedy miners off your land than improvised war machines built to the tune of a pumping 1980s power ballad.
  • Amoral Attorney: Subverted--Krader's lawyer persistently tries to talk his client out of his various dirty deeds, even when he is within his legal rights.
  • Award Bait Song - "Gee I'm Glad It's Raining"
  • Book Ends - Ernest monologuing about what it means to be a camp counselor, and then falling off a ladder.
  • Chekhov's Gun - The maintenance cart that always gets away from Ernest.
    • Also the lantern that takes off like a rocket, the clogged-up toilet, the ill-tempered pet turtle, and the barbecue machine that nearly drags Ernest into an open fire.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive - Sherman Krader.
  • Death From Above - Snapping turtles with parachutes.
  • Determinator - Ernest himself, once he's pushed far enough. 'They ain't gonna get this camp!'
  • Edible Ammunition - Edible explosives, too.
  • Hey, It's That Guy! - NFL defensive lineman Lyle Alzado played the big miner who beats up Ernest.
  • Fake Nationality - Iron Eyes Cody, who played Chief St. Cloud, was actually a Sicilian-American.
  • Improvised Weapon - Tons in the Grand Finale.
  • Lethal Chef - Jake and Eddie. Their 'abilities' and their Liver-Loaf Lunch Arranger are actually weaponized in the finale, bombarding the miners with concoctions like "graham cracker bouillabaisse" fired at high velocity. Not to mention the fact that Jake's Eggs Erroneous contains enough explosive power to take out a bulldozer.
  • Manly Tears
  • Meaningful Name / Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Krader (read: crater) Mining Associates, Inc.
  • Narm Charm - Of course.
  • Rule of Three - The Native American warrior in the beginning surviving the knife, rock, and arrow. Also Ernest in the ending, surviving three shots from Krader's rifle.
  • Saving the Orphanage - The camp, in this case.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money: Krader deciding to shoot Ernest. Exactly how did he plan to get away with that?
    • How did Krader expect to get away with forcibly evicting people via bulldozer? Krader seems to be under the impression he's invulnerable. To be fair, it's Lampshaded that everyone thinks he's gone insane by the end of it.
  • Slobs Versus Snobs


  1. Although it wasn't the first Ernest movie to be filmed. The character had appeared a year earlier in an obscure movie called 'Dr. Otto and the Riddle of the Gloom Beam', which sat in the can until 1992.
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