Seeing as he appeared in commercials, had his own television series, and starred in nine feature films, you would think that the character of Ernest P. Worrell was one of the most hilarious and beloved in comedy history. But that’s not exactly the case. As a matter of fact, you would probably be hard-pressed to find anyone willing to admit to ever liking an Ernest movie these days (full disclosure: I still consider Goes to Camp, Saves Christmas, and Scares Stupid to be guilty pleasures). We must have all just been experiencing some mass hallucination throughout the 80s and early 90s, and there’s no way anybody could make any money by trying to market another Ernest product in this day and age, right?
Well, don’t tell that to RuckusFILM, as they’re trying to bring the character back in a new feature called Son of Ernest. As announced in a press release (which was originally given exclusively to Variety) today, Ernest creator John Cherry, along with Ruckus’ Clarke Gallivan and Coke Sams, and screenwriter Dan Ewen, hope that there’s still enough affection for the denim-vested friend of Vern to transition the character from the late Jim Varney to a new actor, who will essentially be doing the same schtick under the guise of being Ernest’s son. You know what this means, don’t you? Ernest got laid!
But it also means that Ewen has a rough road ahead of him when it comes to trying to sell people on seeing not only another Ernest movie, but one that won’t be featuring Jim Varney. Undaunted at the implausibility of this being anything other than a failure, Sams said of their choice to have Ewen pen the script, “Dan’s a terrific writer and had an original take on how we could bring a brand new version of this goofy-ass character to a whole new audience.” And, for Ewen’s part, he explained that, “Ernest was this plucky little engine that could—against all odds. Nine movies? That’s almost unheard of. Ernest struck a nerve, one we’re going to revisit. We plan to honor the originals and Jim Varney while birthing a new chapter that lies somewhere between not sucking and Earth-shatteringly funny.”
At least all involved seem to be self-aware about what a ridiculous idea this is and how unlikely it is anyone will greet it with enthusiasm. Probably whether or not this thing is even given a shot by audiences will depend on who they get to fill Ernest’s blue boat shoes…and so far they’re being tight-lipped on who they have in mind for that task. As far as I can tell, there’s only one person who could both get audience’s attentions as well as pull the role of son of Ernest off, and that’s stoned James Franco. As a token of luck for the people in charge here, I’ll offer that idea up free of charge. Who would you like to see wearing the gray t-shirt and khaki baseball cap?