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Under the Radar DVD of the Week: 'Ernest Triple Feature'

Dennis King Published: September 30, 2013

This week, the oddest DVD to appear on release lists is:

“Ernest Triple Feature”

From the mid-1980s and through the ’90s Jim Varney made hay with his know-it-all knucklehead character Ernest P. Worrell, fronting commercial pitches, starring in his own TV series and stumble-bumming his way through eight feature films. Now, his last three movies are available in one package, “Ernest Triple Feature,” due out on DVD Tuesday.

Varney, who died in 2000, conceived of Ernest and his “knowwhatImean?” tagline with ad man John R. Cherry III, and they turned the hillbilly character into a cash cow with local advertising campaigns that drew national attention. Soon, Disney came calling, and along with a TV series, Ernest starred various video projects and in four feature films between 1987-90 that generated more than $100 million at the box office.

In the ‘90s, Ernest’s star faded somewhat and his films were distributed independently, mainly for video and TV markets. He was in the process of shooting one more, “Ernest the Pirate,” when he died at age 50. That film was never finished.

But his last three films are included in the new DVD package. They are:

“Ernest Goes to School” (1994) in which Ernest returns to the classroom to save his job and wobbles between being the “class clown” or the “class brain.”

“Ernest Goes to Africa” (1997) in which Ernest journeys to the Dark Continent to save his girlfriend from smugglers and to retrieve a priceless yo-yo encrusted with diamonds.

“Ernest in the Army” (1998) in which Ernest enlists in the reserves so he can drive his beloved big Army trucks and gets dispatched overseas on a mission to stop an evil dictator.

“Ernest Triple Feature” is rated PG and runs 264 minutes on one disc. It’s being released by Image Entertainment.

- Dennis King