rage 8 - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, April 12, 1990
From rugs to
Ernest Goes to
dir. John Cherry*
by Mike Kuniavsky
It's been a while since we've
had any good new cartoons. Al-
most all of the Saturday morning
stuff is really moronic and movie
theaters no longer support what
was once the reason for many to go
to. a movie. Now they leave the
Jights on so that people can see
,their $3 Goobers better. So it's re-
ally refreshing to see a good, light,
slapstick cartoon that revitalizes all
of the old Bugs Bunny and Tom
and Jerry standards.
"But wait a minute," you may
ask, "Aren't you reviewing Ernest
Goes to Jail? That's a live action
film, with real people."
Yeah, sure, but that's onlya
minor- technicality. In reality, the
film is a good, old-fashioned car-
toon. It has all the classic elements
of a Bugs Bunny or a Popeye 'toon
(minus, ironically, the sexual innu-
endos and political undertones). So
in that sense, it's really an
Homage, but it does more than just
,pe the old standards; it introduces
flew characters and has remarkably
fresh twists on old clich6s.
Basically, like most character-
based (as opposed to action-based,
like the Roadrunner stuff) cartoons,
the film's plot is pretty shallow.
Ernest has to go to jury duty;
while on jury duty, the criminal on
trial discovers that Our Hero looks
just like a big crime boss who's
currently behind bars. After a devi-
ous plot, Ernest gets switched with
said crime boss and the fun begins.
As the "bad" Ernest on the outside
plots to ruin Ernest's life, and
make.a lot of money at his ex-
pense, inside the "real" Ernest tries
to figure out how to get out. Even-
tually, everything is set straight,
though the end result is not com-
pletely rosy (like in those really
old Woody Woodpeckers where
Woody, for all his conniving and
fast talking, still gets somehow
punished in the end).
Really, this film is a set of sit-
uations that allow the full extent of
Ernest, Jim Varney's star of a mil-
lion commercials, to shine. Like
the Ninja Turtles' universe,
Ernest's world tries to be on the
In reality, the film is
a good, old-fashioned
cartoon. It has all the
classic elements of a
Bugs Bunny or a
Popeye 'toon (minus,
ironically, the sexual
level of 10- to 12-year-old boys.
But like both Pee Wee's world and
Bugs' world (and Woody's world
and Batman's world and David Let-
terman's world...) it manages to
surpass its inherently infantile en-
tertainment level. Instead, though
not bringing in as much commen-
tary as some of the others did, this
world allows us to see our own
"adulthood" in a better light and
with a different perspective. By not
only showing how the "silly"
adults act like children, but how all
adults have childish traits, we take
ourselves a little bit less seriously,
and those around us a lot less seri-
Most of the value of the film,
though, is not in this change of
perspective but in its pure enter-
tainment value. Though often
silly, the film manages to have
some great slapstick, verbal and vi-
sual comedy. From the very begin-
ning when Ernest is dragged around
by a floor polisher to the time he
gets electrocuted and becomes
magnetic to the time he tries to
catapult himself over the prison
walls (A la Wile E. Coyote), the
film's slapstick is consistently
funny. There is also some really
clever and humorous (though not
in a Woody Allen sense) dialogue.
For example, in a heart-wrenching
speech before he's supposed to go
to The Chair, Ernest summarizes
his life with "I'm not gonna cry
because I got mashed potatoes,
when it was french fries I really
wanted" and so teaches us all a les-
son about the true meaning of hu-
Obviously the film is not a
masterpiece of the cinematic arts
by any stretch of the imagination
(although in France they do think
Jerry Lewis is a genius...), but as
light entertainment, a study break
or just a chance to see Jim Varney
play basketball with himself
(literally with himself) this film is
perfect. And maybe while you're
laughing at him, you can laugh at
everyone, and so make finals that
much more bearable.
ERNEST GOES TO JAIL is playing
Homeboys Vince and the Attorneys teach us all that crime, pnd bad music, do not pay.
Continued from page 5
verse. An obscure eastern voice
whistles in the background, like
some ancient curse renewed. Griff,
who apparently wrote and produced
the entire album by himself, knows
how to convey his messages with
maximum effectiveness, even more
so than his old contemporaries.
To another degree, Pawns is a
thoroughly hip hop record as well,
defeating Public Enemy in the rap
spirit alone. As Chuck D. has im-
plied, PE is little more than a media
assassination unit, countering the
press's Eurocentric lies blow for
blow. On tracks like "1-900-Stereo
Type" and "Suzi Wants to be a Rock
Star," Griff and L.A.D. echo the jet
black soul of so many forgotten out-
fits of R&B with elaborate multi-
vocal chants. For example, they ex-
hort on "Pass the Ammo:" "Educate
you/ what we want to."
Once again, the norm of apple
pie is ripped to shreds as Griff and
L.A.D. take an immediate ideologi-
cal stance identical to that of El-Hajj
Malik El-Shabazz. Similarly, they
attempt to link the power struggle
here in America with the plight of
oppressed people all over the world.
He even has the nerve to mention
Mohammar Khadaffi in his thanks
next to established American heroes
such as Frederick Douglass and
Since his anti-Jewish statements,
bullshit that they were, became news
all over the country, Professor Griff
has come to be considered something
like a pariah, "a twerp" - or a vil-
lian. But given America's endless
string of glazed-over truths, right and
wrong must be continually ques-
tioned by those who abide by its
rules. To quote the man, "Game's
-Forrest Green III
Vince & The Attorneys
Vince & The Attorneys
Vince Megna, Daryl Stuermer
and Mark Torroll combine to form
Vince & The Attorneys. They re-
cently released a three-track cassette
single. The songs, which include
"I'm Gonna Sue You," "Truth Is Ir-
relevant" and "The Pawnbroker," are
all supposed to be commentaries on
the cut-throat nature of this harsh
society. In publicizing the band, the
focus has been on the fact that pro-
ducer/band member Stuermer was
formerly the guitarist for both Phil
Collins and Genesis. After listening
to the tape, the reason for this be-
In "I'm Gonna Sue You," Megna
attempts to laugh at society's abuse
of the legal system. Instead one is
amused by his lack of talent as a
writer with lyrics such as, "I'4i
gonna sue you, take you to court anaI
get every penny that I can."
"Truth Is Irrelevant" centers
around a mellow guitar rhythm and
has a beat similar to that of one gar-
gling mouthwash. A foreboding bass
line is thrown in for good measure.
The song commences with Megna's
recitation of a court-like script.
There is an innovative guitar mix
blended in intermittently while
Megna continues to speak, now read-
ing off a list of the heinous crimes
committed by the accused. The song
is musically sonewhat acceptable
but lyrically very poor.
The final track, "Pawnbroker," is
more or less a country song but pire-
tends not to be. The guitar sounds
like it is being played from the back
of a pickup truck filled with hay
driving down a dirt road somewhere
in the sticks. Periodically, the song
is overshadowed by a striking elec-
tric guitar and female backing vocals
done in the style of Robert Palmer,;
chiming, "Pawnbroker special, pawn
The end effect proves that Daryl
'Stuermer should stick to playing
other peoples' music, while Vince
Megna and Mark Torroll might con-
sider a career change.
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