Slam Dunk Ernest - 1995
For years, the history books have thrown praises to basketball stars like Buddy from Air Bud, Lil Bow-Wow from Like Mike, Scott Howard from Teen Wolf and Kyle Johnson from The Luck of the Irish. But today I’m here to right a wrong that has bothered me for years. I’m shining a light on the unfairly overlooked basketball talents of the great Ernest P. Worrell.
Slam Dunk Ernest marks the seventh installment of the Ernest franchise. Up till now we have seen him in a camp, saving Christmas, going to jail, being scared stupid, riding… again, and in school. You can clearly see that the writers were building up to this moment. All his past experiences will help him in the basketball court. There are nine Ernest movies, yet we are barely getting a sequel to Pacific Rim… So, let’s not stall any longer and just rip this Band-Aid clean off!
The movie opens with a flashback of young Ernest learning the consequences of throwing a very bouncy basketball. He throws it right over the rim missing everything in sight. The ball crosses the entire town causing more damage in its path than Zac Snyder’s Superman. It causes a car cash, ruins a dinner, destroys a kitchen, makes an old lady fall and circles back around to the car crash site and hits his victim again.
Flash forward to Ernest in the present day getting schooled on how “white” he is by his all black coworkers. How he could never be good at basketball because he is a short redneck. Deep social commentary for a sports movie. Here we get the first of many of his trademark super close-ups of his beautifully large nose. If you have never seen an Ernest movie, first, are you living under a rock that only shows good movies, and second, this type of shots is what made his movies, well, his.
He works for a cleaning crew in a mall. Apparently in this mall there is a basketball rim for them to practice their skills, as they are a five-man team in the city league. Here we see that Ernest as an adult, failed to learn the lesson from his youth. During the pickup game, he once again throws a ball and destroys everything around him. I’m starting to think this movie is a PS announcement about the dangers of a basketball.
He takes the fall for the entire team as the owner of the store is looking for someone to blame. As a reward for his courage Ernest becomes a team member. Oh, the team is called “Clean-Sweep”, get it? Because they are a cleaning crew… and there is a sports term called “sweeping” the series… get it? If you don’t get it follow me on Twitter or Facebook and we can have a more in depth conversation regarding the pure comedic genius behind that name.
So, here is when things get a bit weird. It’s an all-black league and the play by play is called by a radio DJ called Doctor Love. Her broadcasting table is filled with snacks, just for her, and a large pitcher of Kool-Aid. Cool? Cool. Ernest brings lemonade for the team since he knows he can’t touch a ball again and becomes their cheerleader. Somehow, he manages to make the team lose. This marks the lowest point of our hero’s journey, from here he will rise and reach the greatness of Buddy from Air Bud.
The Archangel of Basketball is played by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Go back to that sentence and read it again. Wait I must write it again… The Archangel of Basketball is played by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. I don’t think I need to do a joke here. He shows up to help Ernest in his journey and gives him the magical shoes. Wait, did Like Mike steal their premise from this movie?
At first Ernest is reluctant to believe in the magical shoes, but after playing hide and seek with them for a while he learns that this is no joke. He uses his new power magical shoes to clean the mall and get back in time for the game. Side note; the shoes make noises almost resembling a Minion before they were a thing
After a devastating knee injury to the smartest member of the team Ernest finally gets his time to shine. He kills it in the second half of the game, utilizing his shoes to fly over every single other player - you know normal thing from a 50-year-old man. Nobody bats an eye at this man’s newfound flying abilities, or the smoke coming out of his shoes. After they become city champs they will play against the Charlotte Hornets from the NBA. You know, that old played out story line. Looking back, this movie was made in 1994 during the dark ages of basketball, when Jordan was retired. They were desperate for a new star and Ernest was their man.
After winning all the games in front of them, he is seduced by fame and fortune. Where does this fantasy of power and fame lead him too? A fashion show, of course. Not only a fashion show, but kind of a BDSM style fashion show. You know, normal stuff. I couldn’t find a picture or a video of this but… can we talk about how Ernest makes his introduction to the game versus the Charlotte Hornets? I mean not since Siegfried and Roy has a man in a cape commanded the attention of animals and men alike. Silver cape, silver body suit and a chariot carrying him to the bench. Oh, and a tiara on his hat. Cool? Cool.
For some reason, the Hornets vs The Clean Sweep game is also called by DJ Doctor Love. During this game, Ernest writes his name with a paint can on the backboard (that disappears), uses a pin pong paddle and gets a manicure. All while delivering the biggest ass whopping the Hornets have gotten since they lost by 40 to the Seattle Sonics in 1989. Yeah! I’m that desperate for material.
He sees his wrong ways of playing like Kobe Bryant, or, for the laymen, playing selfish. Burn. He fakes an injury to allow his teammates to shine. His teammates hold their own for a while, but they are playing against “pros”. After two quarters his teammates managed to squander a 50-point lead, so it’s up to Ernest to finish the job. He comes in and hits the last shot. Side note; he is so good at basketball that the rules of the game don’t apply to him. He throws the ball off the rim, hits the mascot, hits the guy selling popcorn, hits a business man, hits Ernest in the face and goes in. Winning the game, even though the ball went out of bounds multiple times.
Then the movie ends. That’s why I love movies, because they have an ending.
Slam Dunk Ernest is currently streaming on Amazon Prime, it’s a slam dunk…
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