Movie Review: Ernest Saves Christmas (1988)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 1988 Christmas movie starring Jim Varney and Douglas Seale.

Synopsis: Ernest P. Worrell loses his job as a tax driver after giving Santa Claus a free ride. However, he doesn't have time to fret over it because he has a much more important job, helping Santa convince a former children's show star to take over as his replacement. Things become more complicated when a teenager runaway steals Santa's bag of toys on Christmas Eve.

Who's In It?


I have seen this Christmas movie more than a dozen times in my lifetime. Yet, when I discovered it on Netflix last night, I just had to watch it again. This is because, simply put, it is one of my all-time holiday favorites.

While Varney's famous Ernest P. Worrell character is, at times, best taken in small doses, he was a natural fit for this movie. His desire to be overly helpful (sometimes to a fault) combined with his ability to pretend to be different people worked our really well in this film and some of the scenes, such as the one with the snakes, are actually pretty funny.

I also like the casting of Seale as Santa Claus. Not only does he look the part, he was very believable as the famous toy deliveryman. I especially loved how the movie decided to have him use his real name (causing a whole bunch of different responses) rather than having him pretend to be someone he wasn't.

The funniest part of the movie, however, had to be Chuck (Gailard Sartain) and Bobby (Bill Byrge) dealing with Santa's reindeer while manning a storage area at the airport. I loved those scenes and the casual way they treated the group of reindeer walking around on the ceiling of the building. Those scenes were easily my favorite.

The thing I think I really like best about this movie, however, is the fact there is no villain. A lot of other Christmas movies try to include one and, because of that focus, just aren't as good. Instead, this film has a wide range of characters and, while some where obviously more like-able than others, the lack of a real bad guy allowed the film to focus on the overall Christmas message. This makes it a great family film as a result of that.

Ernest Saves Christmas

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Final Opinion

As I mentioned, Ernest is a character who is better in small doses. And, there are a few parts of the movie, especially the ones involving the runaway, Harmony (Parker), that are a little predictable. However, despite that, this is still a fun family film that I enjoy watching every Christmas season.

My Grade: A

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Updated: 12/07/2016, StevenHelmer
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