As a Kentuckian, I feel a strong bond between the character of Ernest P. Worrell and myself. Worrell, a creation of the late Kentucky native Jim Varney and a Nashville, TN-based ad agency Carden and Cherry, was originally used in commercials shown across the Bluegrass State. Ernest eventually went on to appear in national commercials, movies and his own Saturday morning television program.
Ernest’s last appearance was 1998’s direct-to-video Ernest in the Army, which released two years before Varney passed away. This week, much to the chagrin of everyone who grew up in the 80s, RuckusFilm announced that they’re rebooting the franchise with Son of Ernest, a film that focuses on the titular character’s long-lost son. The script will be written by Dan Ewen (Opposites Attract). John Cherry, a member of the ad agency that birthed the character and director of several of the films, will serve as producer.
“Ernest was this plucky little engine that could — against all odds,” Ewen tells Variety. “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.”
How they’ll handle the absence of Varney wasn’t mentioned. No matter how they decide to do that, though, they will likely have difficulty appealing to old school fans.