Ernest Goes to Camp (1987)

PG | 93 mins | Comedy | 22 May 1987

Director:

John Cherry

Producer:

Stacy Williams

Cinematographers:

Harry Mathias, Jim May

Editor:

Marshall Harvey

Production Designer:

Kathy Cherry

Production Companies:

Emshell Producers Group, Inc., Silver Screen Partners III, Touchstone Pictures
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HISTORY

Opening scene is identified as: “Many lifetimes ago...”
       End credits give “Special Thanks to: American Red Cross; Burns Stone; Boy Scout Troops #217, #297, #585, #85, #593, #583, #641, #96, #182, and #55; Camp Marymount; Kenneth D. Dixon; Cumberland Museum, Louis Levine; J.C. Penney; Buck Cathey; Hardaway Construction Co., Inc.; Carpenter Bus Sales; Delta Air Lines, Inc.; Larry and Sandy Hime; Tennessee Film Commission; Montgomery Bell State Resort Park; Instantel, Inc.; Laurell's 2nd Avenue Raw Bar; Touchstone Foundation (Jewel Cave); Skill Corp.; Employees of Smith, Seckman, Reid, Inc.; Vibration Control; Commercial Interiors; Ted R. Sanders, Moving & Warehouse, Inc.; Gay Petach's Turtle Rodeo.” Other credits include: “Filmed entirely on location in Burns and Dickson Counties, Tennessee.”
       The character listed in credits as “Bubba Vargas” is identified in the story as “Butch ‘Too Cool’ Vargas.” Director-writer John Cherry, III bills himself as John Cherry.
       Ernest Goes to Camp was the first of eight theatrical films based on the popular “Ernest P. Worrell” character that director John Cherry and actor Jim Varney created in 1980 for hundreds of custom-made television commercials throughout the U.S. Ernest was popularly called the “'Hey, Vern' guy,” because in every commercial he assailed his neighbor, an unseen Vern, with news about products or services, from soda pop to appliance stores. According to the 31 May 1987 LAT, Walt Disney Studios became interested in Ernest when he shared a pace car at the 1986 Indianapolis 500 with “Mickey Mouse” and attracted more cheers from the crowd than the Disney mascot.
       Principal photography began 3 Sep 1986, the 24 Sep 1986 Var reported.
       According to production notes in ... More Less

Opening scene is identified as: “Many lifetimes ago...”
       End credits give “Special Thanks to: American Red Cross; Burns Stone; Boy Scout Troops #217, #297, #585, #85, #593, #583, #641, #96, #182, and #55; Camp Marymount; Kenneth D. Dixon; Cumberland Museum, Louis Levine; J.C. Penney; Buck Cathey; Hardaway Construction Co., Inc.; Carpenter Bus Sales; Delta Air Lines, Inc.; Larry and Sandy Hime; Tennessee Film Commission; Montgomery Bell State Resort Park; Instantel, Inc.; Laurell's 2nd Avenue Raw Bar; Touchstone Foundation (Jewel Cave); Skill Corp.; Employees of Smith, Seckman, Reid, Inc.; Vibration Control; Commercial Interiors; Ted R. Sanders, Moving & Warehouse, Inc.; Gay Petach's Turtle Rodeo.” Other credits include: “Filmed entirely on location in Burns and Dickson Counties, Tennessee.”
       The character listed in credits as “Bubba Vargas” is identified in the story as “Butch ‘Too Cool’ Vargas.” Director-writer John Cherry, III bills himself as John Cherry.
       Ernest Goes to Camp was the first of eight theatrical films based on the popular “Ernest P. Worrell” character that director John Cherry and actor Jim Varney created in 1980 for hundreds of custom-made television commercials throughout the U.S. Ernest was popularly called the “'Hey, Vern' guy,” because in every commercial he assailed his neighbor, an unseen Vern, with news about products or services, from soda pop to appliance stores. According to the 31 May 1987 LAT, Walt Disney Studios became interested in Ernest when he shared a pace car at the 1986 Indianapolis 500 with “Mickey Mouse” and attracted more cheers from the crowd than the Disney mascot.
       Principal photography began 3 Sep 1986, the 24 Sep 1986 Var reported.
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, 150 local Boy Scouts were hired as extras and turtle wranglers. They rounded up twenty-five turtles from a Nashville, TN, pond for the film’s climactic battle.
       Despite negative reviews, the $3.5 million film grossed $14 million during its first seventeen days of release, and eventually took in $26 million, the 16 Jun 1987 WSJ and 17 Jun 1988 HR noted.
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
24 Sep 1986
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
26 May 1987
p. 3, 35.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jun 1988
p. 12.
Los Angeles Times
25 May 1987
Calendar, p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
31 May 1987
Section L, p. 21.
New York Times
23 May 1987
p. 15.
Variety
24 Sep 1986
p. 6.
Variety
27 May 1987
p. 11.
Wall Street Journal
16 Jun 1987.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Touchstone Pictures presents
In Association with Silver Screen Partners III
An Emshell Producers Group Presentation
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures Distribution
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
3d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
Scr
Addl dial
Addl dial
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog
2d unit photog
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
Loader
Best boy
Generator op
Generator op
Key grip
Dolly grip
3rd grip
4th grip
5th grip
Still photog
Still photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec/Prop master
Asst set dec/Props
Asst props
Set const
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Costumer
MUSIC
Mus comp
Mus supv
Synclavier programming
Synclavier programming
Synclavier programming
Synclavier programming
Synclavier programming
Mus rec eng
Mus rec eng
Mus rec eng
Asst mus eng
Asst mus eng
Mus prod asst
Mus apprentice
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom man
Boom man
Cable man
Post prod supv
Telecine supv
ADR ed
Asst dial ed
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Spec sd eff by
Spec sd eff by
Spec sd eff by
Supv re-rec mixer
Rec mixer
Rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff consultant
Asst spec eff
Asst spec eff
Titles & opticals by
MAKEUP
Makeup/Hair
Makeup/Hair
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Creative consultant
Prod coord
Scr supv
2d unit scr supv
Unit mgr/Accountant
Asst accountant
Key prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Craft service
Asst craft service
Unit pub
Unit pub
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Asst to Mr. Cherry
Asst to Mr. Varney
Welfare worker/Teacher
Welfare worker/Teacher
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
Utility stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Gee I'm Glad It's Rainin'," lyrics by Alice Keister, music by Shane & Alice Keister, performed by Jim Varney
"Brave Hearts," lyrics by Alice Keister, music by Shane & Aaron Keister, performed by Gary Chapman
"Lost Without Love," lyrics by Alice Keister, music by Shane Keister, performed by W. T. Davidson
+
SONGS
"Gee I'm Glad It's Rainin'," lyrics by Alice Keister, music by Shane & Alice Keister, performed by Jim Varney
"Brave Hearts," lyrics by Alice Keister, music by Shane & Aaron Keister, performed by Gary Chapman
"Lost Without Love," lyrics by Alice Keister, music by Shane Keister, performed by W. T. Davidson
"Doing Time," lyrics by Alice Keister, music by Shane Keister, performed by Jackie Welch
"We're Gonna Win This One," lyrics by Alice Keister, music by Shane Keister, performed by Ashley Cleveland
"Happy Together," composed by Garry Bonner and Alan Gordon
"Quando Condo," composed by J. Patten and R. Vitello.
+
DETAILS
Series:
Release Date:
22 May 1987
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 22 May 1987
Production Date:
began 3 September 1986
Copyright Claimant:
Touchstone Pictures, a.a.d.o. the Walt Disney Company
Copyright Date:
19 May 1987
Copyright Number:
PA324401
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo® at Selected Theatres
Color
Duration(in mins):
93
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
28587
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

“Many lifetimes ago,” during a rite of manhood, a Kikakee Indian chief hurls a knife and tomahawk, then shoots an arrow at a young brave tied to a tree. All three weapons barely miss their mark, and the brave survives. In the present day, Ernest P. Worrell works as a handyman at Kamp Kikakee, a summer camp located on the old Kikakee Indian tribal land. As Ernest rides an electric cart around the camp, he exalts that someday he will be elevated to camp counselor, a job that will allow him to “shape and mold young minds into a focused worldview.” Today, however, Ernest must fix a toilet, a job that ends explosively. His cart, which apparently has no turn-off switch, takes off without him and roams the grounds. When the summer camp boys arrive on buses, Ernest runs to greet them, but two lads slam a window on his fingers. Nurse St. Cloud, the granddaughter of Kikakee Chief Windcloud, who owns the land, reminds Ernest he still needs his vaccination shots, a procedure that reduces him to blubbering jelly. Ernest confides to her that he should be promoted to counselor, because he has learned Kikakee lore and is the only person, other than the nurse, who can communicate with Chief Windcloud in Kikakee sign language. Mr. Tipton, head camp counselor, welcomes the new arrivals, and tells them they will study archery and the ways of the Kikakee in order to prepare for the “path of the brave” and “the ceremony of the blade, the stone, and the arrow.” Tipton informs the counselors that the state governor’s office has chosen Kamp Kikakee to participate in a “Second Chance” program ... +


“Many lifetimes ago,” during a rite of manhood, a Kikakee Indian chief hurls a knife and tomahawk, then shoots an arrow at a young brave tied to a tree. All three weapons barely miss their mark, and the brave survives. In the present day, Ernest P. Worrell works as a handyman at Kamp Kikakee, a summer camp located on the old Kikakee Indian tribal land. As Ernest rides an electric cart around the camp, he exalts that someday he will be elevated to camp counselor, a job that will allow him to “shape and mold young minds into a focused worldview.” Today, however, Ernest must fix a toilet, a job that ends explosively. His cart, which apparently has no turn-off switch, takes off without him and roams the grounds. When the summer camp boys arrive on buses, Ernest runs to greet them, but two lads slam a window on his fingers. Nurse St. Cloud, the granddaughter of Kikakee Chief Windcloud, who owns the land, reminds Ernest he still needs his vaccination shots, a procedure that reduces him to blubbering jelly. Ernest confides to her that he should be promoted to counselor, because he has learned Kikakee lore and is the only person, other than the nurse, who can communicate with Chief Windcloud in Kikakee sign language. Mr. Tipton, head camp counselor, welcomes the new arrivals, and tells them they will study archery and the ways of the Kikakee in order to prepare for the “path of the brave” and “the ceremony of the blade, the stone, and the arrow.” Tipton informs the counselors that the state governor’s office has chosen Kamp Kikakee to participate in a “Second Chance” program for disadvantaged youth, and several Midstate Boys Detention Center youngsters are due to arrive that afternoon. When Tipton puts one of the counselors, Ross Stennis, in charge of the “delinquents,” Stennis sends Ernest to pick them up. At the detention center, six kids—Bobby Wayne, Crutchfield, Butch “Too Cool” Vargas, Danny Simpson, Chip Ozgood, and tiny African American Mostafa-Hakeem “Moose” Jones—get on the bus. Rowdy from the start, they nearly cause Ernest to crash on the way back to camp. The Kikakee counselors put the new arrivals into a rundown cabin and let them know they are not welcome. The “second chancers” act defiantly. A fight in the mess hall ends with Ernest getting hit in the face with a tray, and the six boys are assigned to dig a ditch as punishment. Later, during swimming lessons, Counselor Ross Stennis tosses Moose Jones into the lake, although the boy cannot swim. The detention kids react by pushing Stennis’s lifeguard tower into the water and badly injuring his ankle. Now short a counselor, Mr. Tipton picks Ernest as a temporary replacement and puts him in charge of the six boys. Ernest takes them on a hike, but makes the mistake of provoking a family of badgers. The kids wrap him in a bandage like a mummy, then attach the bandage to the bus and drive away, spinning Ernest like a top. Meanwhile, at a mining quarry run by Krader Industries, attorney Elliot Blatz reports to owner Sherman Krader that his efforts to get Chief Windcloud to sign over the deed to Kamp Kikakee have been unsuccessful. Krader insists that the company needs the land, because it contains a rich deposit of “petracide,” a mineral valuable to America’s space and defense programs. Returning to Kamp Kikakee, Blatz promises Nurse St. Cloud, her grandfather’s interpreter, that they will receive five percent of all proceeds from the mine. The nurse rejects the offer, explaining that she and the chief are the only remaining members of the Kikakee tribe, and their “heirs” are the children who learn “the path of the brave” and “the ceremony of the blade, the stone, and the arrow.” Meanwhile, after sitting on a nest of fire ants, Ernest goes to the camp infirmary with bites all over his body. The six delinquents bring him a poison ivy bush as a “gift.” Dejected, Ernest tells his woes to “Pokey,” his pet snapping turtle who bites his nose. To get the turtle to loosen its grip, Ernest gets the boys to sing “Happy Together” until it falls asleep. For a cabin project, at Ernest’s suggestion, the delinquents build an Indian teepee, and confess they prefer the camp to the detention facility. Chief Windcloud, through his granddaughter, tells the six boys how Kikakee braves once became warriors. When the boys return to their cabin, their teepee is on fire and a canteen belonging to Pennington, one of the counselors, lies nearby. They attack Pennington and his friends in the counselors’ cabin. The following morning, Tipton threatens to return the boys to the detention facility, but Ernest begs Tipton to give them a last chance. The boys decide to rebuild the teepee. Later, Sherman Krater drives to Chief Windcloud’s cabin. When he sees Ernest talking to the chief in sign language, Krater convinces the dimwitted counselor that the chief must sign papers to save Kamp Kikakee. At Ernest’s prompting, the chief signs the property over to Krater Industries. Tipton later announces to the counselors and boys that the camp is closing. As Krater Industries workers and bulldozers move in, Ernest tries to stop them, but foreman Bronk Stinsen beats him up. Nurse St. Cloud dresses Ernest’s wounds, but also berates him for allowing Sherman Krater to trick her grandfather. Dejected, Ernest sings a sad song to Pokey the turtle. The regular kids begin to leave, but the six delinquents decide to stay. When they turn against Ernest for being stupid, the nurse explains that he was the only one who stood up for them, and now he has lost everything. Devising a plan to strike back, they recruit Ernest to lead them on “the path of the brave.” They steal explosives from the mining company and blow up trucks. They burn down company tents with flaming arrows. Camp cooks, Jake and Eddy, spew an egg concoction at the miners from a homemade food mixer. Using a catapult, Ernest and the kids fling a toilet bowl, flaming oil lamps, and snapping turtles fitted with parachutes at the mining crew, and as the angry turtles land, they bite the men’s fingers, noses, and ears. Bronk Stinsen attacks the camp with a bulldozer, but Ernest and the boys put explosives on the electric cart and send it crashing into the machine. Sherman Krater arrives with a sniper-scoped rifle and tries to shoot Ernest, but since the handyman possesses “true courage,” the “pure heart” of the warrior, and perhaps the innocence of stupidity. Krater’s three shots miss him. When the mine owner steps closer for a final shot, Ernest puts his finger into the rifle barrel. Krater throws down the weapon in surrender. At that moment, Nurse St. Cloud arrives with police and a restraining order. Krater admits he tricked Chief Windcloud. Ernest goes back to being a handyman, and as he fixes the large Kamp Kikakee sign, it falls on him. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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