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Ernest Scared Stupid has a pure heart but he's definitely not aiming for adults

Updated on October 18, 2011

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I remember enjoying the antics of one Ernest P Worrell when I was a kid. But now that I'm older, I have to say that that's probably the only time when this kind of stuff is really enjoyable. Not to speak ill of the late Jim Varney, but it can be hard for adults to really get behind the inanity that Ernest ends up pulling off.

But that's clearly not the audience he's going for.

From a technical standpoint, Ernest Scared Stupid falls short in so many ways. The acting from kids and adults alike is overly cheesy. The story is basic. The "mystery" is barely that.

However, I still remember loving the silliness and some of the lines stuck in my head as I grew up. (Such as, "How about a bumper sandwich, booger-lips?")

The story follows one simpleton named Ernest (Jim Varney) who is the decendant of the man who imprisoned a dangerous troll under a tree years earlier. That man's family, as the story goes, was cursed to get dumber and dumber until the troll was released by someone of the Worrell line. You can pretty much know what happens then and off we go.

The trolls were made by the same team that made the 1988 cult classic Killer Klowns from Outer Space, and a couple of them look similar to what we saw in that film. They're well enough made though simple in execution.

The biggest trouble with this movie is simply the silliness. I was able to enjoy it well enough as I watched it again recently, mostly because I was able to remember what it was like when I was a kid. But I wouldn't suggest this one to anyone who can't put up with Ernest's simpleton antics and his multiple-personalities-on-speed tendencies.

But it's fine for kids who can get past the troll's constant booger-covered lips and who like seeing a grownup with the mind and heart of a child.

And on another note, I do have a bit of a soft spot for Ernest anyway. Varney portrays him as such a genuine person and even so many supposedly "kid friendly" movies end up with stuff that that a parent wouldn't choose to put in front of their kids. Maybe a little toilet humor? Some mild innuendo? A fart joke? But the Ernest movies, whether you love them or hate them, they at least commit to being the kind of film that a parent can feel safe with. And that's a delightful thing today.

Personally, this one gets a 5 / 10 for me, though I know I would have rated it probably 7 / 10, 15 years ago.

Ernest Scared Stupid is rated PG for scenes of kids in peril and a little mild language.


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