Ernest Saves Christmas (1988) Poster

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Jim Varney at his best!!!
formula44xxx16 November 2001
This, my personal favorite Ernest film, is arguably one of the funniest. And its holiday theme adds that extra something for a comedy franchise (like Christmas Vacation did for the National Lampoon films). Basic story has Ernest literally save Christmas, with predictable but sometimes hilarious results. If you ever thought Ernest's schtick was funny, you gotta see this. And if you wanna laugh for the holidays, you can do a lot worse than this.
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A Holiday Classic (Laugh All You Want)
RiffRaffMcKinley9 December 2006
Maybe "Ernest Saves Christmas" will never be one of the most well-respected holiday comedies ever made. Maybe it didn't win the Best Picture Academy Award. Maybe it isn't a four-star movie or even a very popular one, but it's still a Christmas must every year. Underneath the layers of "Hee-Haw"-level blue-collar humor so synonymous with Ernest is a Christmas movie with heart-- surprising for the classic character. In a funny way, it almost seems like a different take on "Miracle on 34th Street"-- the old man who knows he's Santa Claus and the cynical young girl who says it isn't so. "Ernest Saves Christmas" remains one of the ideal holiday comedies around, whether it was a serious movie or not.
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Earnest I am when I say this is an enjoyable, family flick for the holidays
inkblot1124 October 2007
Ernest (Jim Varney) is a cab driver who runs the airport routes in a big city. One day, he crashes his taxi into the unloading area of the airport and must make a beeline out of the site. Seeing a white-bearded gentleman who needs a cab, he hustles the old guy into his clutches and speeds off. Although Ernest sings "O Christmas Tree" with only these three words, he's really a nice guy. But, when the bearded one tells Ernest that his name is Santa Claus, Ernest doesn't really believe him. He drops the old man off, however, at a retirement home, as requested. Picking up a Christmas tree that fell off a truck and a homeless young teenage girl with an attitude, Ernest makes his way over to Vern's house to decorate. But, wait. The old man left his red, very large duffle-type bag on board. As Ernest opens the bag, he gets a glimpse of the bag's magical powers. Could this really have been Santa? Trying to return the sack to Mr. Claus, Ernest learns, however, that the old man has been thrown in jail. Is it up to Ernest to make sure Santa can fly on his big day? This is a sweet and fun family film that borrows a bit from Miracle on 34th Street and other holiday flicks. There is only one Ernest, of course, and Varney provides much comedic mayhem with his unique character. Just watch him talk about "channel number 5 perfume" or a "failure to accumulate" and you will be laughing heartily. His expressions are priceless, too. The rest of the cast, although unknown, are fine as well. No one will find fault with the look of the film, either, as the costumes, sets, and production values are high. Perhaps you have heard that Varney's humor is sometimes of the gross-out nature and you would rather not share his films with your family. Please, do reconsider when it comes to this one. Its humor is infectious, not offensive, and its sweet tale will warm the hearts of its viewers. So, make a batch of mulled, spiced cider and buttered popcorn and put this one into the home theater machine in the very near future.
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It silly. It is harmless. It is fun. And it is underrated
TheLittleSongbird24 November 2009
Ernest Saves Christmas is a very underrated Christmas holiday flick. I will agree that it is very silly, and certainly not Oscar worthy. Don't expect a sophisticated plot, and a superlative script. Expect a harmless and fun Christmas comedy, that way you are in for a good time.

While very predictable in plotting and rather repetitive and slow in the middle half; especially in the first thirty minutes Ernest Saves Christmas does have its funny moments. And I must say the scene with the magic sleigh was uproariously funny. Amongst the humour, is an in general heart-warming story about Santa and his attempts to find a successor.

The camera-work may be a tad dated, but the music is very nice indeed. And I actually thought the acting is above decent, with the late (and talented) Jim Varney wonderfully spirited as Ernest and Douglas Seale is simply great as Santa. The opening credits with the collage of Christmas carols were a delight.

Ernest Saves Christmas is an above average seasonal comedy about the power of belief and the dignity of an individual. It is far from a masterpiece, but seriously I wasn't expecting it to be. I got exactly what I wanted, a fun film that while predictable and silly is lots of fun too. I do also think it is underrated; there are much worse movies out there, namely any of the Friedberg-Seltzer movies, Home Alone 4 and Superbabies:Baby Geniuses 2. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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Fun, delightful, Christmas Movie
sfriend120 May 2003
If you wasn't to thrilled with Ernest Goes to Camp, write it off and give this one a shot. A good story involving Ernest helping Santa Clause find a replacement before Christmas Eve is fun, and delightful. Jim Varney again does a terrific job playing the dimwitted goofball. Entertaining from start to finish, this is the best of the Ernest series.

Rating: B
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Underrated Christmas comedy
BlueSkies76525 August 2019
I remember Ernest Saves Christmas coming on television every year around Christmas time. I've watched it for like 10 times and it never disappoints. It's one of my favorite Christmas movies. Jim Varney's Ernest character is one of the most underrated comedy characters. For comedians it's hard to play over the top characters without the risk of losing the audience because the character comes off as phony and acted, not genuine. It's not the case here from the hilarious movements, expressions and his persona, Ernest and Jim Varney's other personas are hilarious.

All the other actors also had great memorable performances and were equally charming. Tied it in with a feel good Christmas story that gives it a special, inspiring feel this movie ranks as one of my favorite Christmas movies.
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Good Christmas movie. You got to love Ernest
Gilson7 April 1999
Ernest rules! Ernest always can make a good movie for all seasons. I mean, you got....

1. Ernest Goes To Camp-Good Summer movie.

2. Ernest Saves Christmas-Good Christmas movie.

3. Ernest Scared Stupid-Good Halloween movie.

You got to love Ernest. Watch this movie. But it will get you into a Christmas mood. Nothing wrong with that.
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Brings back memories.
mike-32010 November 2003
I am 16. When I was younger, I would watch this movie all the time at Christmas. This, along with A Christmas Story and (Clark Griswold's) Christmas Vacation are the traditional Christmas movies. It didn't get very high ratings, but these people are looking for action and intrigue, not just good holiday laughs. I suggest you find a copy for your children.
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Best Ernest movie
elijlsmith4 November 2019
This is the best Ernest movie and a Christmas time classic.
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Must See
goldenhawk4027 December 2001
This IS my favorite Christmas movie. It is funny, in a totally ridiculous, moronic, Ernest sort of way - it has all of his best schtick and then some. I really like the message, too - that Christmas is in the heart. Unlike some of the typical Christmas movies there is no major transformation where the mean man becomes the nice guy -the nice guy stays the nice guy and becomes even better. Suspend your need to see Citizen Kane and just watch it for the total silliness. You will enjoy it.
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Hey, Vern, Ernest save this movie from sucking.
ironhorse_iv24 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
First off R.I.P Jim Varney. Jim Varney was the Charles Chaplin of the 1980's & early 1990's. Jim Varney's goofy alter ego, Ernest was famous for his trademark slapstick humor, countless Bugs Bunny type dress up egos, and dumb humor. Despite, Ernest being nearly stupid, Jim Varney, the actor was a high IQ man. Jim Varney was also a serious Shakespearian actor. He was phenomenal and much admired in the 'circle' of Shakespeare, on a par with Sir Lawrence Olivier.. He said he loved playing Ernest because it was (for him) the direct opposite of doing Shakespeare. Ernest first made his mark doing commericals for nearly everything, it was his work with Coca-Cola that allow the Christmas ad's in the opening of the film. It opens up with Santa Claus (Douglas Seale) arrived at the Orlando Airport. Douglas Seale has one of the sweetest voices, and it's works for being Santa Claus. Ernest P. Worrell works as a taxi driver, and picks him up. Santa Claus is on his way to get a local celebrity Joe Carruthers to be new Santa Claus due to Douglas thinking of retiring. While they are driving, a runaway teenage girl (Noelle Parker) calling herself Harmony Starr joins Ernest and Santa in the cab. Harmony is a horrible character, who lies non-stop on end. However on Christmas eve, her conscience prevails and she reforms her ways. Ernest drops him off to meet Joe, but Ernest discovers that Santa left his magic sack behind in the cab, and Ernest begins a quest to find the old man and return it to him. There is a number of cool scenes in the movie that show Jim Varney's work, one is the POV Vern's house which pays tribute to the original commercials that first introduced Ernest, the audience never sees Vern's face. The other is when Ernest poses as Astor Clementh, an employee of the governor and Harmony as the governor's niece Mindy, and the two help Santa escape from jail when Santa got himself locked up by Joe's boss. The other is when Ernest disguises himself as an Apopka snake rancher (Lloyd Worrell from Knowhutimean? Hey Vern, It's my Family Album) who sneaks Santa into a movie studio to find Joe again. There are also supporting cast from his TV show days, as Chuck and Bobby (Gailard Sartain & Bill Byrge) that serves as sub-plot as two airport workers trying to control Santa's reindeer. The movie has a strong Christmas theme and the humor will keep a range of ages entertained nonetheless. Ernest is funny without using sex. Ernest also use little violence and harsh language. Very heartwarming, and works for family events. The cut-backs of the film can be the over used of advertising in this movie and re-cuts of older commericals (good example: the pancake on parade), dodgy plot-points, and bad Christmas puns. Director John Cherry and Jim Varney made a good movie for such a low-budget and it's one of the last of the good Ernest movies. Yeah, the Ernest movies are pretty much the ultimate in guilty pleasure crapfests, but this brings out the Christmas spirit in all of us.
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Maybe I'm biased...
mashkablue-0460816 December 2019
I grew up watching "Earnest Saves Christmas," so I may be biased in saying that it is an underrated Christmas classic. It's cute, sometimes cheesy, very slapstick-y, but it's absolutely endearing as a family film!
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Great Start, But 'Santa' Dropped The Sleigh
ccthemovieman-17 January 2007
This movie started off great; the first 30 minutes are very funny and clever with some interesting characters. That's the good news. The bad news is that the film then gets too repetitive and then it gets downright stupid.

What we wind up getting is a Santa Claus with "magical" powers with a lot of New Age baloney thrown in the mix. It's just ridiculous and hardly the kind of "Christmas movie" I would expect from Jim Varney's "Ernest."

To be fair, it still had a decent amount of laughs and is profanity-free but just not a film I could recommend.
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Christmas Savor Befuddlement
hellraiser76 December 2019
This film is my third favorite Earnest film and an honorable mention in favorite Christmas films as well as a little under the radar in that category. .It's another childhood gem as I'm a fan of the Ernest films as they were the first comedy films I've ever seen and seeing him in Christmas time I'll admit was a pleasant surprise as that's my favorite holiday and of course having him like the punch Ernest drank made a tasty combination.

The story has an interesting if wild idea, which is on Santa or at least that version of Santa whom is starting to lose his powers which means he's finally reached retirement age and needs another to take his place. Yeah sort of wild but an interesting concept which gives explanation to Santa's immortality, in a way this concept sort of predates "The Santa Clause" but also came after the under the radar "Santa Claus the Movie" which also had a little of that concept at the beginning of the film. But of course, things go wrong and it's up to Ernest as usual to save the day.

The music is pretty good, especially the title sequence at the beginning which is a nice Christmas theme song if not my favorite and you see all these Norman Rockwell-like paintings of Santa. I'll admit this is a rather different title sequence for an Ernest film as they usually are comical, but I didn't mind as this film is a Christmas film after all so why not.

The supporting characters are good, the guy playing Santa is solid, despite his predicament he still does his think spreading joy. Nick is also pretty good as he's a former Children's show host that is conflicted between his last chance at getting up in his carrier or staying true to himself and taking Santa's place.

Harmony whom is sort of a young runaway and grifter is sort of Ernest's support in things, I liked her kind of had a little crush on the actress when I was a kid, she was kind of hot. But I really like that she's sort of has a bit of an arc as she's a person fending for herself and feels grifting is the only way to get though life. But latter in the film realizing how lonely a lifestyle it really is and how it can make her more lost and alone then she already is.

But of course, my favorite supporting characters of all time are Tom and Bobby. Those two are always hilarious their both one of my favorite comic duos up there with Abbot and Colstello, Harry and Marv, etc.; it's too bad both never had a spin off movie or series, I almost thought they would somewhere along the line but oh well. It's funny how both are puzzled and react to the reindeer that have arrived, we see them walking upside down and sticking to the celling like "Spider Man" which is something different for the flying reindeer. It cracks me up that both think their aliens, I remember thinking "not even close", I don't even think Mulder and Skully wouldn't believe that.

And of course, Ernest is being his loveable and cumbersome self. It's just funny how enthused he is about the season despite inadvertently causing some calamity. And as usual he must save the season in his colorful ways, dumb luck, and heart of gold.

There are just lots of favorite and funny scenes it's almost hard to decide, so I'll just pick out a few scenes as I don't want to give too much away.

Third is a disguise scene where he is dressed up as a teacher and Harmony as a student to sneak into the jail where Santa is held. It's just funny how Ernest displays this highly Princeton educated professor persona and he is always delivering this tight-lipped laugh with this slightly strange gleeful smile.

My second favorite scene is Ernest once again in disguise as a Snake Handler/Rancher as he is doing this as a ploy to sneak Santa into the studio. Jim Varney's performance as that persona is just hilarious as he has sort of rough southern bayou accent, but he is telling this story on how rattled the snakes are to the security guard. It's funny from how Ernest tells it in an exaggerated manner, but it also is one that feeds you imagination. And this joke gets even funnier when there is a pay off to this in the end and you just see the face Ernest makes.

Though my favorite scene is when Ernest arrives at Vern's house and talks directly at him which is of course us the audience. This was cool because this is the only Ernest film where Vern comes in, which is strange to say as Vern is really nothing but a POV shot that zoom close to Ernest face which always looks comically strange in that shot.

It's is just hilarious as he is constantly interacting with Vern and brings in the tree and getting everything set up, Ernest is inadvertently doing a demolition job on Vern's or should I say our house. One part that really stands out is Ernest pulling on a crazy cord which of course leads to more destruction. After this it would really make Vern or us think twice about having Ernest over for Christmas, though also makes me wonder how many other housed did Ernest inadvertently demolish on that time of year.

So, Merry Christmas, know what I mean.

Rating: 3 and a half stars
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Ernest Saves Christmas
Scarecrow-886 December 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Probably the best Ernest film featuring Jim Varney, mainly because it wisely features the lovable doofus during the Christmas season, complete with a retiring Santa, reindeer that leap from floor to roof at the postal warehouse, two elves arriving at the airport and eventually to accompany Ernest on a world trip (and around the world!), the sleigh and its "air brakes", and an actor often associated with the role of Santa looking to expand on his career through the aid of his encouraging agent (to star in a monster movie with gratuitous violence and foul language!). Oh, and you can't forget the red sack with its magic powers to provide gifts to all kids, falling into the unfortunate possession of Ernest and a teen runaway, Harmony (Noelle Parker), who has lost her belief in Santa. Ernest pulling wacky novelties out of the bag, forgetting the names of reindeer when he is needing to get the sleigh to Santa at a particular museum, his disastrous transportation of trees at the beginning of the film, his oddball array of disguises (yes, the old lady in a cast is among them, as is my favorite, a snake-handler, including a slick-haired administrative employee for the Governor), the chaotic trip to Vern's house (he's quite the party pooper, delivering a tree that wreaks havoc and pulling a electrical wire right out of the wall), and his flexy-face expressions (he mimics John Wayne and often goes into deep voice when "getting serious"), along with "witticisms" (he gets in the "ewwww", does his eyebrow and chin back and forth while quoting such gems as "the end of mankind as we know it"), are included for the character's major fans (for which I was one as a kid). I do think the final fifteen or so minutes, when Ernest is in charge of the sleigh and reindeer as the elves accompany him, is the film at its funniest. Noelle has good chemistry with Varney as does Douglas Seale (who perfectly twinkles, has just the right amount of cheery cheeked appeal, and just enough belly, at just the right age for a Santa needing to pass on the job to a fresh candidate) as the Santa needing to locate Oliver Clark's Joe Carruthers, hoping to convince him that he's to be the next in line for the role of Old Saint Nick. Gailard Sartain (with his pingpong eyes) and Bill Byrge (with his bird-still visage) as the postal workers on Christmas Eve complement the film's overall cheesy nature. Robert Lesser, as the driven agent desperate to get Joe to take the monster film series (who even has Seale imprisoned!), and the ultra sweet Billie Bird (if there is a bit for twinkle-eyed scene stealing old ladies she was one of the top of her profession at that time) round out the cast. Bird and Seale are a delight together. Santa not giving up on Harmony or Joe, Ernest, despite his best intentions often resulting in mayhem, corralling the reindeer and sleigh by film's end, and Joe deciding that bringing cheer to children was worth more than profitability in a film career are highlights. I admit that a lot of the appeal of this film is Varney's various facial expressions and off-the-cuff (seemingly) improvised zingers...Varney is an acquired taste, so there will be many who just think he's too silly to even bother with. And the film can get downright nonsensical...this, in my opinion, will divide those who love it and those who will just find it obnoxious. Probably not a Christmas classic in the minds of anyone but us Ernest fans.
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An Annual Christmas Tradition
gavin694229 November 2015
Ernest helps Santa Claus as he searches for his successor.

I thought I had already written a review, but either I was mistaken or IMDb deleted it. Having seen this film five times in the last five years, it is surely one that sicks with me. Some -- myself included -- will say "Ernest Goes to Camp" is among the best in the series, as is "Ernest Scared Stupid". But only one, "Ernest Saves Christmas", has the appeal to make it one to see every December (or late November).

Perfect casting for Santa, some stupid humor. Some offbeat humor (the "Santa's Slay" but is awesome). A feel-good message. And what a breakthrough role for Noelle Parker, who went on to star as Amy Fisher and then have her own television series, "Sisters". I am surprised she not got any bigger than she is... would love to hear her on an audio commentary for this film.
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He Saved a Lot More than That
thesar-228 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Ahhh, Christmas 2013. I had to revisit a childhood favorite of mine: Ernest Saves Christmas. I haven't seen this for over twenty years and remember loving and re-watching it so many times back in the late 80s.

You know (Vern,) watching these Ernest movies as an adult, it's not quite the same effect as viewing them through the eyes of a child. Recently, I've been revisiting three of the four I loved (or liked) as a child: Ernest Goes to Camp, Ernest Saves Christmas and Ernest Scared Stupid. (I have yet to re-watch Ernest Goes to Jail, and I will soon. I do have that on BluRay now, and that was my personal favorite as a child with this holiday special as #2.) And, boy, I can see how I liked them in my youth, and they do have some absolute humor that translates to adults, but they are over-the-top silly at times.

That said, there's a purity to them. Ernest, er, the late and great Jim Varney, has such a heart and kept everything in his act and movies clean. I like that. In fact, I'm surprised these movies are rated as high as PG. Honestly, there's nothing, and rightfully so, in them that should offend anyone. Thank you, Mr. Varney.

Here, in Ernest Saves Christmas, Ernest, the G-Rated, but somewhat unsafe, taxi driver gets mixed up with the real Santa Claus as he's on a mission to pass the torch onto a new Santa as the "magic is up."

Naturally, things are a lot more complicated as they appear and Ernest screws up a lot, but in the end, there's the heart and soul of Ernest P. Worrell who brings it all together.

While not perfect, you gotta admire it for its simplicity in a complicated film. One can criticize Varney's odd facial expressions and zoom-ins or even dislike them. But, he had a heart and he set out to make a (what I think should be a G-Rated) special Christmas movie. Mission: Accomplished.

* * * Final thoughts: Don't get me wrong. This movie is way silly. And I had to endure a few too many "made-for-younger-crowds" scenes, like eyes darting back and forth as a gag. It's okay to get past that when you know the core audience. I wish these movies, the Ernest series, would come back for the next generation so they can appreciate more family-friendly, (should be!) G-rated fare.
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A biased opinion filled with nostalgia
Robert_duder24 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Hey I'm just being honest. This review is probably less about the actual quality of this movie and more about how it makes me feel because I grew up with Ernest like many of us did. I probably watched Ernest Goes To Camp and this film a thousand times at least, not to mention his Saturday morning TV Series. It has been years since I watched any of Ernest's antics and decided to check out the old Christmas classic this year. What a terrific movie for families and what a talent Jim Varney was. Ernest (in general and in this movie) is so ridiculous, campy, cheesy and its just the perfect blend of all of that with a healthy dose of true comedy. The movie is cute and fun full of adventure and magic and holiday spirit. It isn't sappy but if you look under the surface there really is a sweet story there and has several different characters going through different things throughout the film. For what some might call a "silly" comedy, it is actually smartly written. It knows exactly its demographic and most importantly it knows what fans of Ernest want to see. It is a Christmas movie at its heart and soul and yet doesn't forget to include everything you love about Ernest and his adventures.

I forgot just how amazing Jim Varney was in this role. His physical comedy is really something to see, whether he's pretending to be a silly character (snake farmer, old lady etc) or he's on a rant through Vern's house or trying to save a Christmas tree from the highway. He's simple and yet brilliant and full of heart. Its a great character and I forgot just how much I liked him. Ernest is the perfect character to put into a Christmas film and no one could do it like Varney. Not to be outdone the supporting cast is so good in their roles. Douglas Seale is amazing as Santa who is ready to retire and looking for his replacement. He is so out of place in the fast paced world but a strong person who is being treated so poorly. The chemistry with him and Varney is perfect for the film. Oliver Clark is the "Mister Rogers" type TV personality that Santa wants to replace him. Clark is good, although a little toned down compared to some of the other performances in the film. He is still very good in the movie. One of the first crushes I remember having was on Noelle Parker's Harmony. She is a wayward kid that lies and steals and happens to come across Ernest and Santa and learns the errors of her ways. She is the perfect personification of an 80's kid with the side pony and the clothes she wears. She nails the role and while its a very cookie cutter role, she is does it well (and she's as cute as she was back then.) Ernest regulars Bill Byrge and Robert Lesser show up as Bobby and Marty in a silly little side story that happens to be hilarious.

I just don't know how anyone can't like this movie. I mean it isn't an Oscar winner and if you're looking for raunchy comedy you won't find it anywhere here at all. This is a clean cut family film with some really smart comedy and brilliantly they made sure John Cherry (who is an Ernest director staple) direct this one. He has done Ernest films and TV Shows since its conception it would seem and so he knows the character and likely worked well with Varney. If you're going into this with the right expectations you can't possibly be disappointed. If you don't know anything about Ernest or you're expecting some modern day raunch comedy then you'll hate this. This has everything you could possibly want from a comedy like this. I will be making my rounds of Ernest films starting now because I forgot how much I enjoyed the sheer silliness and this will be a Christmas staple in my house for certain. 8.5/10
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A Christmas "Classic"
DarthVoorhees14 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Boy this is a tough one for me to review but it's one that left an impact on me for sure. The holidays are here again and once upon a time this was my favorite holiday film. I was a youngster to be sure but this goofy thing was always on my holiday viewing. It probably also added to my love of the Santa Claus legend. Now as an adult I was tempted to give this a look through the eyes of an adult. It's not the nicest thing to do because as we age we grow cynical but I really wanted to see this movie again.I don't know what happened but I still got a lot of joy out of it. I won't deny that nostalgia probably fogged my lens but 'Ernest Saves Christmas' genuinely matches all the criteria for a heart warming Christmas film. And now you'll ask me "Do you really still enjoy Ernest as a grown man?" No, not really. Oddly enough Ernest is not what draws me to this movie. The thing I love about this movie is it's portrayal of Santa Claus. Ernest is off the wall goofy but the Santa legend is taken super seriously. Douglas Seale gives in my opinion probably the best portrayal of Santa Claus in any medium.

And so there are really two films to be reviewed here. The story of a retiring Santa reluctantly hanging up the sack and Ernest making a goof of himself in the process. I almost wish Ernest himself weren't actually in this movie because the stuff with Santa is so interesting and heartwarming. Can you really hate Ernest though? I don't know. Jim Varney definitely shovels it out and throws everything at the wall in the hopes that something might stick. I guess I'd say he's a low rent hillbilly Pee-Wee Herman. I was an Ernest fan as a kid though and so I tried to think about what appealed to me back then. Varney just has a manic energy and does anything for a laugh. Children will love him as did I. Is it deep or sophisticated comedy? No. Is it harmless? Yes. Don't get me wrong there are moments when Varney enters Jar Jar Binks territory but the whole thing is meant to be as goofy as possible and I might as well let it slide. I mean it's Christmas right?

What makes me love this film is Santa. Santa Claus is an interesting character with a lot of myths surrounding him. 'Ernest Saves Christmas' has the great benefit of having an actor who treats the role like Hamlet and brings out it's intricacies. I love Douglas Seale in this part. It's like the kind of performance where the actor melds with the character. Seale has a genuine joy in the way he describes the actions of Santa Claus. He interacts with every character with kindness, love, and respect. You would imagine an Ernest film would go for the cheapest laughs but Seales' Santa Claus has nothing but dignity. The plot is a bit contrived but there are stakes here, tremendous stakes. Christmas needs to be saved here and that is because of Seale's conveying the plot. Is he manipulating me? I don't know. On paper I imagine this character reads terribly. Santa spends so much of the film doing nothing but delivering exposition. He does so in a way that perfectly captures the essence of the character but also of the other character's he is interacting with. I don't really see a whole lot of worth in the Santa myth. I always thought it was a bad idea to get kids to believe in Santa Claus but this is the Santa Claus I would want to believe in.

I'm not going to bother giving this a star rating or going into it's many other flaws. It's a goofy movie but it still had the power to put me in the Christmas spirit. If you can stand a little annoying Ernest comedy than you are treated to a wonderful portrayal of Santa Claus.
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Ernest comes through for the Claus
Woodyanders26 December 2020
Warning: Spoilers
Loveable lunkhead Ernest P. Worrell (a spirited and engaging performance by Jim Varney) helps Santa Claus (a charming portrayal by Douglas Seale) out when Santa shows up in Florida seeking a new replacement in the form of kindly actor Joe Carruthers (nicely played by Oliver Clark).

Director John R. Cherry III relates the enjoyably zany story at a snappy pace, maintains an amiable good-natured and lighthearted tone throughout, and wrings plenty of laughs from the amusing sense of cheerfully silly humor. The lively acting by a game cast keeps this movie humming: Noelle Parker brings lots of spunky vitality to her role as runaway teen Harmony, Robert Lesser excels as smarmy agent Marty, and Gailard Sartain and Bill Byrge are both hilarious as a couple of baffled customs guys. Varney's klutzy, but well-meaning Ernest makes for a likeable dunderhead protagonist; it's especially funny to watch Ernest take on various different and delightfully wacky personas throughout the picture. Moreover, this film has a real warmth and sweetness to it that's impossible to either resist or dislike. A real hoot.
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One with the Yuletide, if you know what he means...
paul_haakonsen5 May 2017
Imagine that, I only first saw "Ernest Saves Christmas" for the first time during the Christmas season of 2016. Yep, I know, way overdue. And it was only because it was part of a Christmas movie marathon with the family that I got around to watching this movie.

Now, I am vaguely familiar with the Ernest character (played by Jim Varney) from my childhood, as I remember watching some of the movies back then, though the only title that comes to mind is "Ernest Goes to Camp".

While "Ernest Saves Christmas" hardly is a Christmas Classic, it is still a funny and entertaining movie. Especially if you like the kind of slapstick comedy used there. And yes, there are a lot of funny situations, and I did laugh often and enjoyed the silliness of the movie, for sure.

Despite being funny, then "Ernest Saves Christmas" wasn't exactly the type of movie that stood out as being memorable. I think you might actually watch it more than once, but with years in between each viewing.

One of the good things is that you can sit down and watch "Ernest Saves Christmas" without having watched other movies in the franchise, as they work well as stand-alone movies.

"Ernest Saves Christmas" is a movie that can be enjoyed by virtually everyone in the family. And it is a fun enough movie to put on for some Christmas time comedy.
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Jim Varney was always better than his material
mike4812820 December 2016
The best role that Jim Varney ever had was as Jed Clampett in the "Beverly Hillbillies" movie. A great acting talent that was sadly wasted and underutilized in a long series of Disney "B" films. A mixed bag-of-a-film from the Disney "Touchstone" logo. It starts out with a cruel edge as cab driver Ernest rushes an obnoxious passenger to the airport in a big Yellow Cab. The passenger wears no seat belt and is bounced around the back seat. He (apparently) dies or ends up in a catatonic state and Ernest dumps him into the baggage chute along with his ripped-up luggage. Right up there with the terrible start of "The Santa Clause" when Santa falls off the roof. It's just not that funny. The other part of the film than stinks is when "Joe", the ex-kiddie show host, makes a horror film called "Santa Slay" which is beyond dreadful. with a very tacky green alien. The part that works is the Johnathan Winters-like warehouse man who doesn't know how to deal with 8 flying reindeer and Santa's Elves. Good and bad acting abounds. "Santa" acts and looks quite genuine and sincere. The teenybopper runaway practically falls out of her peekaboo tank-top shirt. Sure she's cute, but distracting. A simple plot, as old Santa attempts to pass-the-torch to a new "Santa". The last third of the movie finally redeems itself with wonderful Disney Magic as Ernest truly does save Christmas with Santa's runaway sleigh and 8 hyper-active reindeer. Filmed in Orlando, Florida and much of the film looks very cheaply made. Not the worst Christmas film that I have ever seen but it may be in the running.
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Ernest Saves the Franchise With This One Film.
anaconda-4065814 January 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Ernest Saves Christmas (1988): Dir: John R. Cherry III / Cast: Jim Varney, Douglas Seale, Oliver Clark, Noelle Parker, Gailard Sartain: Easily the best Ernest P. Worrell comedy in a series that are largely mediocre. The plot here is more appealing than the average Ernest film. Douglas Seale plays Saint Nick searching for his replacement. He sights a kids entertainer played by Oliver Clark and is aided by Ernest for assistance. There is a subplot involving a runaway teenage girl whom Ernest shelters. She goes through Santa's big red sack, emptying it of its endless contents. How that works is not explained especially when factoring the ratio of children in the world. Maybe we are suppose to just buy the whole magic thing. The conclusion is a farce with reindeer operating like a jet plane but director John R. Cherry 3rd gives the film heart. Production is okay and Jim Varney is funny as Ernest who incorporates wild antics in his attempts to help Santa. Seale makes for an excellent Santa. Clark brings warmth and goodness as the entertainer wrestling with contract issues. Noelle Parker plays the teenage runaway who must comes to terms with decisions that led to her current lifestyle. Gailard Sartain and Bill Byrge are funny as two security guards overwhelmed with surprise packages. Nothing more than an Ernest film but it is a definite cut above the others. Score: 6 / 10
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A funny Christmas movie. KnowhutImean?
4-Kane25 December 2014
I have been an Ernest P. Worrell fan since my teens and Ernest Saves Christmas is a funny holiday movie. After serving as a camp counselor in Ernest Goes To Camp, Ernest crosses paths with Santa Claus while working as a taxi driver in Florida. Santa is eager to retire from his job and pass the torch to his would-be successor, Joe Carruthers, the star of a children's television show. Ernest, along with a teenage girl he encounters, must help Santa fulfill his mission. Time is running out, as Christmas will be gone if Santa fails in his quest.

The late Jim Varney was funny and great as Ernest. His talent made the character shine through, especially in Ernest Saves Christmas.
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Great Movie
Writer_Commentary7 April 2014
I find this movie to be a great movie that I like to watch every Christmas. It moves along at a nice pace and is pretty good to watch. I've never actually seen another Ernest movies, but I have to imagine that they would probably be good movies too. Parts of it may seem stupid, but they really aren't. It's very enjoyable with a good plot, even if it borrows from basic Christmas movies a little. One may thus find some of what's in the movie obvious, but it is hard to find better Christmas movies to watch on a regular basis. If you have not seen it before, I highly recommend it. You might enjoy it too. I don't think that one can regret seeing this movie because it is enjoyable for all ages. It can just be a little strange, but what were you expecting from an Ernest movie anyways?
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