Directed by John R. Cherry III
Ernest P. Worrell (Jim Varney) helps Santa Claus/Seth Applegate (Douglas Seale) as he searches for his successor before his magic fades.
Ernest Saves Christmas is a guilty pleasure of a Christmas film for me. None of the Ernest movies were highbrow entertainment. It is quite possible you left the theaters a little stupider than you did when you went in after watching one, but you always had a good time. These were silly family-friendly efforts that had more in common with the Three Stooges than they did with anything more sophisticated.
Jim Varney gives Ernest his usual childlike wonder and all. Ernest is very much an adult child. He has a home and job yet maintains all the innocence and kind heartedness of a toddler. His thinking borders on that of a cartoon character and that is part of the character’s charm.
There is nothing particularly original or sophisticated here, but the Ernest films are comfort food so originality and such is unnecessary. In this movie we get the expected street-smart kid character in the form of Pamela Trenton who goes initially by the name Harmony Starr (Noelle Parker) that is down on Christmas. Santa Claus/Seth Applegate briefly runs afoul of the system. And let us not forget the children’s television host Joe Carruthers (Oliver Clark) who (in a nod to Silent Night, Deadly Night) stars in a Christmas horror movie that after refusing his calling steps up to the challenge. As I said these movies are nothing deep or sophisticated and go for the obvious.
My favorite parts of this movie though are the bits at the airport. They are some of the stupidest stuff I have ever seen put in a movie. It is just ridiculous and over-the-top, and it gets capped off with Christmas elves…or does it? There is a scene at the very end with giant rabbit ears popping out of a freight box.
The directing is not great, and the script is only so-so. And I think the film suffers a little bit by being set in sunny Florida. It looks way too warm and comfortable to be Christmas. I am not saying you have to set it in the wilderness of Colorado at the snowiest time of the year but maybe someplace a little more north.
This film is a bit of a screwball comedy. At times reality is tossed aside to get the laugh. They go with the silly and ridiculous. This film is aimed squarely at a family audience and manages to be genuinely entertaining in a family friendly way. There are no edgy jokes. No double entendres. It is Pure Flix level entertainment with a better-quality script and without David A. R. White having any screen time.
Ernest Saves Christmas is not a complex film. It is not a deep film. It is not even a well-crafted film. But it is entertaining. It is a very good guilty pleasure at Christmas time. Put it in. You may feel a little ashamed like eating a frozen burrito after a night of drinking but you and I both know you will do it again and enjoy yourself.