My parents finally bought a VCR circa 1988 so they could watch “Ernest Goes to Camp.”
Although their purchase generated opportunities to record favorite TV programs, it also resulted in their youngest child — that would be me — frequently requesting lifts to the video store. They most likely came to regard the machine as an ill-gotten gain. That’s not, however, why I’m mentioning such a historical event in my family’s collective life.
I’m here to talk about “Ernest Goes to Camp.”
You might have heard about those 30 Day Challenges on Facebook. If not, here’s a synopsis: For one month you tackle one topic from one particular subject (e.g. songs, books, photos) and post such momentous tidbits as a song that reminds you of someone or a photo of something you want to do before you die. (Hmm, why not a photo of someone you want to do before you die?)
Anyway, I had planned to participate in the movie challenge. With much ado, I downloaded the rules, but as I skimmed them, my euphoria turned to despair.
How would I pare down the scores of movies I hate and select just one to publicly condemn? By what criteria would I determine the most underrated movie and, by most underrated, do they mean of all time or just the 21st century? And there’s no way I would be able to name a guilty pleasure because unless you watch kiddie porn, when it comes to movies, guilty pleasures should not exist.
When I shared my sorrow with a friend, he chuckled and said, “You could name, ‘Ernest Goes to Camp’ as your guilty pleasure.”
Since he had no knowledge of my family’s VCR-buying history, I briefly suspected him of tapping my brain. Once I recognized the coincidence, I explained that while I don’t consider “Ernest Goes to Camp” a worthwhile cinematic experience, anyone who thinks otherwise shouldn’t feel ashamed for enjoying the movie.
Besides, what makes a guilty pleasure?
To prepare for this blog, I researched that subject as it relates to movies and unearthed alarming results. To begin, no one should list “The Godfather” or “Goodfellas” as a guilty pleasure. Really, what is wrong with these people? Once I recovered from those shockwaves, I realized some folks enjoy bad movies. Movies so bad you’d have to pay me more than minimum wage to watch them.
But that’s their business. And for every “Mars Attacks!” or “Road House” — entries that made me ask, “Who derives pleasure from these messes?” — I found a “Smokey and the Bandit” or “Sixteen Candles” — entries that made me ask, “Who feels guilty for enjoying that?”
No one should feel guilty for deriving pleasure from any of these movies. Movies are similar to people in that we like what we like.
And for the record, my parents liked “Ernest Goes to Camp,” and I doubt the cinematic experience produced one drop of remorse.
I’ve never felt guilty about any screening of “Mars Attacks!” There are few films that make me belly laugh as much as that one. Or “Pearl Harbor.”
I divide Tim Burton’s filmography into two categories: pre-“Mars Attacks!” — movies I appreciate — and post-“Mars Attacks!” — movies I have never seen because I have yet to recover from “Mars Attacks!” But I’m happy you enjoyed the movie, guilt free.
I love Ernest Goes to Camp. I cried when he sang “Gee I’m Glad It’s Rainin.”