PLOT: Ernest helps Santa Claus as he searches for his successor.
The only real memory I have of watching an Ernest movie is when I won free tickets to see Ernest Scared Stupid when my local movie theater first opened, but I do know of the character. There is a really good chance that I have seen this film before, but it probably wasn’t more than two times because I didn’t remember anything. Ernest saves Christmas is probably the pinnacle of the Ernest series, and it is actually a passable Christmas movie. They borrow a bit from the plot of Miracle on 34th St. and does a good job of not stealing every story beat.
The film opens with Ernest as a cab driver, and possibly the worst cab driver in the world, on his way to the airport to drop off a fare. After a ridiculous chain of events, he ends up with Santa Claus in the backseat of his cab. And since Ernest is a buffoonish character by nature, he is not alarmed when the man introduces himself as Santa Claus. In earlier films, Jim Varney plays Ernest as a good-hearted character who always has the best of intentions, so his acceptance of the fantasy situation, and willingness to help out, fits perfectly with his character. Honestly, the plot of the movie depends on Ernest be completely bought into everything, and in most kid-focused Christmas movies, this is what makes them actually watchable. It is more the awkward denial of these fantasy plots, that makes some Christmas movies a chore to watch.
The film does give into a lot of 80s trope, including the costumes worn by Noelle Parker, who plays the Doubting Thomas of the film, Harmony. There’s also plenty of advertisements including for BIC lighter’s and other just natural aesthetic of the world. This would include the cars on the road and the general apathy of the Customs Agents. These elements help give this movie a slightly dated book. But that shouldn’t stop it from being in your Christmas movie rotation despite its mediocre quality.There’s no real love story in Ernest Saves Christmas. If you want to include a trusting love between a “Harmony” and Ernest, as he takes in the runaway and makes her believe in the goodwill of man again, then I guess there is a pseudo-love story. The only instance of actual romantic love is at the end of the film when the former Santa Claus and the former secretary of the new Santa Claus decide to get to know each other better and walk off-screen arm and arm.
This one doesn’t skimp on decorations as Ernest’s cab at the beginning is completely decorated for Christmas, including lights, garland, and a snow globe on top of the steering wheel. What it does lack in Christmas-ness, and why it did not get a perfect score, is Christmas songs. The only instance is Earnest singing O’ Christmas Tree, and by that I mean, he repeats just O’ Christmas Tree to the beat of the song.
Love Story Score: 4 out of 5
Ernest saves Christmas is a very easy film to watch at a family gathering that won’t offend anyone in the room. While most of humor is either outdated or meant for a younger audience, the message and values of the movie are still good for a modern audience. It is a very silly movie, and definitely one that you can feel comfortable watching with your kids between their self-made Frozen Christmas special marathon. (There is one of those, right?)
Overall Rating: 5.5 out of 10