Ernest Goes to School is a 1994 direct-to-video comedy film written and directed by Coke Sams and starring Jim Varney as Ernest P. Worrell. It is the seventh film to feature the character Ernest P. Worrell, and the first to be released direct-to-video. This motion picture is also the only film in the Ernest film series not to be directed by John R. Cherry III. This was Will Sasso's first film role. Its opening theme is "Hail to the Muskrats!" which was the alma mater.
Ernest (Jim Varney) works as a janitor at Chickasaw Falls High School, which is facing closure due to the School Board's decision to merge other schools in the area. There is also a new rule from bureaucrat Mr. Axwell: All employees are required to at least a high school diploma. Ernest reveals that he failed to complete his final year of high school, and the new rule makes him ineligible for his job position.
Ernest has two choices as a result: Redo grade twelve at the school with regular courses and potentially graduate, or lose his job. Ernest reluctantly decides to redo school and enters the student body, attending regular classes and performing usual student activities, but all not with a little catastrophe or predicament or distraction.
Soon the principal tells him he's failing and that he may as well forget about the experiment. As Ernest is off sulking about it, two science teachers named Greta (Linda Kash) and Bobby show up in his locker to reveal their biggest experiment to him - a potential brain accelerator. They make Ernest their "Joe Kraig" and see what happens.
It's successful and he is extremely proficient at virtually everything from mathematics to drama to music, to knowing the do's and don'ts of police work, along with driving like a maniac. The only downside is that his personality turns to knowing absolutely everything and superior, alienating him from his friends. He impresses his teachers and it seems he's well on the way to graduating with top marks. He also tells Willie how to fix cars, and what to about putting a new engine in a car. While showing Willie how to put an engine in, he goes and buys a coke and then buys another coke and buys another coke after that because he always has to have a coke.
While Ernest/Joe is doing well, Ms. Flugal, who is Ernest's love interest in the film, makes him band conductor and puts him in charge the young women and directing the marching band in preparation for the half-time show during the football game. Ernest/Joe diligently does so and instructs the whole band to watch him if anything wrong happens. This rule is very instrumental in the ending result.
Eventually two bullies find out about Ernest's secret by watching him descend into his locker to recharge his intelligence. They in turn destroy the accelerator right before the night of the football game. The whole procession is ultimately ruined when Ernest realizes he can't recharge and has to direct the band with his usual mind and intelligence. He spends the whole disastrous affair with his head inserted in a tuba which resulted after he descended toward the band from the podium in his clumsiness. He in turn disappoints the band, the audience who had to run from the resulting fire, the principal, and most of all Ms. Flugal.
Depressed, with the knowledge that he can't recharge his head any more, Ernest starts packing his things until he finds three of his friends mocking him. They force Ernest haplessly through days of study for the final exam, but Ernest proves hopeless. On the day of the big exam he's about to go in but before he does the scientists tell him excitedly that the Brain Accelerator has been repaired. Feeling for his friends who laboured with him all that time, he refuses and enters the exam.
During final part of the movie the football game finals take place. During the game the board inspector, who personally wants the merger to happen, bribes the football coach into purposely losing the game against the rival team. With a board trustee in attendance, (who believes in schools producing winners), making the school lose and inevitably close would make the merger possible. The coach accepts, resulting in the football team losing every play. Meanwhile, Ernest is still in charge in the marching band. Using his own ideas he comes up with small routines during the half-time show. On the other hand, other members of the band are informed of the fix on the game and sneak off. With the help of the two science teachers, they infiltrate the locker room with sleeping gas, effectively replacing the football team to win the game themselves. During the game between the rival team and the replacements, the two scientists reveal to Ernest their new brain accelerator. He immediately charges up and becomes the coach for the team. With his new intelligent strategies the tide turns and they start winning.
However, in the last play of the game Ernest forgets to recharge and loses his intelligence while in play. He ends up rolling down field on a drum after the ball that was thrown and flies into the end zone, catching it. The team wins just as the football players arrive from the locker room in bewilderment and the board trustee is informed of the instructor's actions and intentions and the coach's involvement.
In the end the school stays open (They won the football game). Both Coach Decker and Mr. Axwell lose their jobs respectively. It's revealed that Ernest passed the exam and so graduates, keeping his job.
- Jim Varney as Ernest P. Worrell
- Linda Kash as Greta
- Bill Byrge as Bobby
- Jason Michas as Donald
- Sarah Chalke as Maisy
- Gabe Khouth as Rodney
- Corrine Koslo as Miss Flugal
- Russell Porter as Brad
- Will Sasso as Russell
- Duncan Fraser as Coach Decker
- French Tickner as Principal Procter
- Kevin McNulty as Mr. Axwell
- David Keith as Squint Westwood
- Lorena Gale as History Teacher
- Michael Roberds as Cafeteria Server
- Bruce Arntson as Chick Hansen