Ernest Saves Christmas (1988)
Here are some of my observations as I watched the film:
- Santa is in Orlando Florida looking for a replacement on December 23rd. Shouldn’t he have done this back in January? Talk about being a procrastinator, Santa.
- Ernest is driving his taxi cab like a maniac! He nearly killed that passenger. This is apparently what passed as kid-friendly comedy in the late 80s.
- Wait? Santa has a passport? Wait? Why again is Santa flying a commercial airline?!
- Would any kid really get a John Wayne impersonation?
- This must be the villain. He’s driving an expensive Mercedes with the vanity plate “Big Deals.” So you know he’s up to no good.
- Santa just blurted out in terror “My goodness, my sack!”
- Why is Santa being arrested? Because they think he thinks he’s Santa? Can’t they just kick him out of the kids’ museum? What crime did he commit?! if anything take him to a shrink but there’s no reason to arrest him. This makes no sense.
- Why are his reindeer shipped to Orlando?!
- I like the idea that Santa’s sack has an unlimited number of glowing balls that magically turn into gifts and toys but how does this help Santa during Christmas eve? He would have to think of each and every gift every time he went to a kids’ house. And the gifts don’t come wrapped either so how does that work exactly?
- One of the inmates in Santa’s cell is wearing a half shirt that says “Eat ’em Raw!”
- This prison break out is one of the lamest schemes I ever saw. Ernest and the teenager girl pose as the governor’s people and simply get agitated at the sheriff for arrested a man who thinks he’s Santa and they take Santa away themselves. Then right after they leave the police station they break character and chat a bit about the task at hand to find that Joe guy that Santa wants as the new Santa. CAN YOU FEEL THE TENSION?!
- Was it common for Ernest to play various characters? I honestly don’t remember. Jim Varney wasn’t a shabby actor/comedian. A little too yokel or bumpkin for my tastes but not terrible. This scene when he plays an elderly woman is kinda funny actually. Varney was the hillbilly Tyler Perry.
- Where did the girl get the exact matching sack to fill with feathers to fool Santa so she can steal the real sack?
- So earlier in the movie Santa is arrested because he simply said he was Santa. Now he assaults a movie director by punching him in the face and nothing bad happens to Santa. Go figure.
- Why didn’t the elves arrive with Santa on the same flight?! Or just ride the sleigh with the reindeer (instead of shipping them too) to Santa when the time was right?
- After Joe shaved off his beard he kinda looks like Paul Giamatti as Harvey Pekar.
- Most of the last 1/3 of the film is Ernest’s crazy antics with flying Santa’s sleigh. That’s about it.
- Santa is totally going to boink Mary Morrison (the kindly old lady who works at the children’s museum) tonight.
Is It Actually Jolly: Varney is most times funny and entertaining. Very kid-friendly. Whereas Pee-Wee had a slight devilish demeanor, Ernest is all PG rated. As Christmas spirit goes, this film is minimally jolly mostly because it’s set in Orlando Florida and Santa is complaining most of the film.
Jolliest Moment: Ernest commandeers Santa’s sleigh with the elves and attempts to fly it to Santa in time for Christmas eve.
Dumbest Moment: The whole Santa in prison sub-plot. While that’s not an awful idea for conflict in a Christmas movie, there was zero reason for Santa to be arrested. He didn’t commit a crime nor be framed for one. He wasn’t even committed a misdemeanor. He wasn’t even loitering. Joe’s agent overheard Santa say he was the actual Santa Claus and that was enough to put him behind bars. And then the breakout was beyond dumb too. Awful writing and execution. I’m sure this all makes sense to a 6-year-old but it’s souring my eggnog now.
Overall: I’ve watched this film a bunch of times back in the day but the only thing I remembered was the magic glowing balls that is in Santa’s sack that turn into actual gifts. I was always entertained by Varney’s Ernest character and watched a few of his movies and the TV show he had around the same time. He was a good kid-friendly comedian but once you reach a certain age, you tend to stop caring about Ernest. Some kid-friendly entertainers transcend age and can be enjoyed by both kids and adults like The Muppets, Peanuts and Pee-Wee Herman but I don’t think Ernest fits that group much. Like I said, he was too “clean.” But as far as Christmas family films go, this isn’t half bad. It never dragged too much and the holiday message wasn’t too sappy or ham-fisted. I’d re-watch this again more so than those ABC Family Christmas movies, that’s for sure.
Score: 7 Hey Vern! KnowwhutImean? (out of 10)