Jim Varney is somebody I really miss. I loved his Ernest P. Worrell character when I was a kid and always looked forward to his new adventures whether he was saving the holidays or busting out of jail. Of all his films, Ernest Scared Stupid was easily my favorite with its Halloween theme 'n all, so I thought today I would share with you some of the extremely important life lessons I learned from it. Sure, the movie is filled with wacky, slapstick, multi-character based humor, but that's all just surface material. Once you peel back the layers, you'll see that this flick is loaded with valuable take-away knowledge, so prepare to soak it up, my little sponges...
LESSON #1: "Boogerlips" is one of the greatest monster insults of all time.
After a long battle with Trantor, the main evil troll, Ernest finally manages to knock him off the back of the truck. Trantor then shows off his strength by pulling the truck towards him with a rope, so Ernest has his dog Rimshot throw the truck into reverse. Just before the truck slams into Trantor, Ernest speaks the immortal words "How about a bumper sandwich, Boogerlips?" Boogerlips is not only a great insult that should become a part of your every day vernacular, but it's also an accurate way to describe the trolls in the film if you look closely at them. Every one of the trolls appears to have a major sinus leakage problem, so mocking them with something like "Boogerlips" might be a good way to get inside their heads before they try to tear yours off.
LESSON #2: During times of crisis, you always have
time to indulge your multiple personality disorder.
As far as comedic character acting went, Jim Varney was about as good as it gets, and he never wasted an opportunity to show off those skills. Even when the entire town is being attacked by vicious trolls, Ernest still manages to find time to live in his fantasy world as different characters including a roman soldier, a barbarian, a grumpy old lady, and more. What I never realized is that, even in times of crisis, we should all take the time to appreciate the little things in life. Sure, a bunch of people probably died while he was going through all those costume changes for each character performance, but that's entirely besides the point.
LESSON #3: Parents are idiots.
Maybe it's from all those years of staying up late at night and changing diapers, but the brains of these parents have obviously been turned to mush. Adults never seem to know what the hell is going on in the world, but kids sure do, and it's only because of them that the weakness of the marauding trolls is discovered. Without the aid of their children, the parents in this film would all be troll chow. The Fresh Prince was right... parents just don't understand. So let that be a lesson to you kids: ignore whatever your parents tell you, because chances are they're wrong.
LESSON #4: Trolls are nerds who enjoy collecting action figures too.
Sure, we've seen Trolls do all kinds of awful things from harvesting souls to turning people into piles of green vegetarian slop for consumption, but until I saw Ernest Scared Stupid, I had no idea that they were really into collecting action figures. When you think about it, the movie is really about one troll's quest to complete his collection of action figures. True, the figures this particular troll (Trantor) collects are created using the souls of children and they're made of wood, but they're still action figures nonetheless. And really, what's worse - a foreign toy company harvesting children and forcing them to build toys for kids in America or a troll harvesting the souls of children and turning them into actual toys for his collection? I think we all know the answer.
Like any truly nerdy collector, Trantor even has a special display case set up for his collection. If only he hadn't removed them from the package, he could sell some of them for a pretty penny on eBay. I guess he's that special breed of nerd troll who collects action figures and still plays with them. Scary.
LESSON #5: Pain isn't always experienced immediately when you're an idiot.
At one point in the film, Ernest is standing near a trash been while enjoying a lollipop. He has his hand on the bin when the heavy metal lid slams down on it. Ernest takes a minute between looking back 'n forth between his hand and the audience before his brain finally processes the pain and he freaks out in agony. You know how in Looney Tunes you'd see Wile E. Coyote run off the edge of a cliff and he would just hover there in the sky until he finally looked down and then he would plummet to the earth? Well, the same basic concept apparently applies to real life too... pending you're a fool like Ernest.
LESSON #6: If your town is under attack, try to cash in on it.
The Tulip Brothers sure know how to make a buck, and what better time to cash in on things than when everybody is in a panic. Tom Tulip and his brother, Bobby, have quite a little empire going for themselves, and when they learn that the entire town is freaking out about a troll, they figure out a brilliant way to cash in on it: sell anti-troll merchandise! When Ernest runs into their store, they already have a wide assortment of troll-related goods to sell him such as Troll Away Spray, Bolivian Army Slingshots, Day-Glo Troll Waders, Troll Ninja Nunchucks, Slime-Proof Troll Gloves, Chopped Troll Bait, No Troll Pest Strips, a Trolling Motor, and last but not least, a copy of Troll Love Songs on vinyl. The grand total for all this merch? $1749.98 plus tax. I guess business school really does pay off. They even try to take photos of the trolls to send to National Enquirer, but their camera is destroyed during the big battle. Still, kudos to them for at least giving it a shot.
On a related note: John Cadenhead (Tom Tulip) and Bill Byrge (Bobby Tulip) were a staple of the Ernest films, as they always worked as a pair together. To this day, I've always believed Bill had one of the most perfect faces for comedy, with his rail-thin frame and bulging eyes. It's a shame he hasn't really been used outside of the Ernest films.
LESSON #7: Trolls are lactose intolerant.
Ernest reads a book on trolls and thinks it says that they hate miak when it actually reads that they hate milk. Fortunately, the kids realize that the book was speaking of milk. Milk is to trolls what sunlight is to Gremlins... it kills them. Armed with Super Soakers (the weapon of choice for anyone under the age of 18) filled with milk, the kids start attacking the trolls by spraying them in the face. Sure enough, the trolls prove to be lactose intolerant and vanish one by one, leaving bloody little piles of goop in their place. Milk. It does a body good... unless you're a troll.
Unfortunately, we'll never know if the Bulgarian Miak that Ernest tracked down actually works on trolls. Then again, who cares? Milk is a hell of a lot easier to come by anyway.
LESSON #8: The classic Three Stooges eyepoke trick works on monsters.
With so many conflicting reports out there on how to battle various monsters, it's nice to know that some of the most basic hand-to-hand combat moves can prove to be effective against them. And what could be more basic than the moves made famous by the Three Stooges? When a troll armed with an axe steps up to attack him, Ernest first tries using the old "your shoe is untied" trick on it, but the troll doesn't fall for it. So Ernest then asks the troll to think of a number between one and ten, then quickly asks if it was two as he pokes the troll right in the eyes and makes a quick getaway. So the next time you're fighting a monster, even if you've lost a grip on your trusty chainsaw or shotgun, never forget that you always have a handy weapon at your disposal... your hands.
LESSON #9: You can shoot bullets from your mouth with the aid of a friend.
Do the rules of the cartoon world really apply here or what? If you happen to be without a gun, but have plenty of bullets on hand, fret not! For all you need to do is pour the bullets into your mouth and then have a friend smack you upside the back of your head with a 2x4 and you'll shoot the bullets out in an instant just like these trolls managed to do. Hopefully, you'll have better aim than then did, though I suppose it's hard to focus your aim when your head is being repeatedly bashed with a solid piece of wood. But hey, this wouldn't be an issue if you had remembered to bring a gun in the first place.
LESSON #10: Even family films can include a great head explosion scene.
If there's one thing out there that almost all family films are lacking, it's clearly gotta be head explosion scenes. Well, I'm happy to report that Ernest Scared Stupid is one of those rare family films that does not shy the camera away when it comes to showing the pivotal head explosion. After Ernest kisses Trantor (since milk doesn't do the trick), it causes him to release the souls of the children that he captured and results in a beautifully chunky head explosion that bursts right out towards the camera. So let this be a lesson to any production company that's thinking about making a family film: head explosions are fair game. And let's be honest; you can't deny that movies like The Dog Who Saved Halloween or even The Little Mermaid would be greatly improved that they included at least one solid head explosion.
So that pretty much sums up the important lessons I took away from Ernest Scared Stupid. What about you? Is there anything else you learned from it? If so, share your thoughts in the comments section below!
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