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Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!
It is tough to review an Ernest movie. On one hand, they tend to be pretty terrible. Our titular character (an iconic role for late actor Jim Varney) is kind of an obnoxious character in the way that a lot of Jim Carrey’s early mainstream roles were. Ernest has few redeeming and/or enjoyable characteristics and many of his gags involve an already over-the-top character pretending to be even more over-the-top.
On the other hand, this type of movie knows what it wants to be. It is not shooting for something higher. And, to its credit, the movie is okay with being just what it is. I think what helps a lot is that Varney clearly loves the Ernest character, and that love is very infectious. Personally, I think that is what made Ernest popular in some circles to begin with.
In this entry, which was a critical bomb and a relative financial success, we see Ernest team up with a runaway teen (Noelle Parker) to help Santa Claus (Douglas Seale) find his replacement. Along the way, they encounter a host (Oliver Clark) for a children’s TV show. Santa wants the apprehensive TV personality to become the new Santa Claus. Seriously, that is the entire story. Ernest does not really do anything (let alone “saving”) other than help out here or there. The teenage sidekick is kind of a brat (which would have worked had her story had meaning).
The big problem with the story is that the resolution is all a bit too simple. The idea of finding a replacement Santa Claus is interesting, but in the end, all the problems are resolved largely with a “I changed my mind.” You sort of leave the movie with a “that’s it?” feeling.
Ernest Saves Christmas has its moments, but I would not suggest you go out of your way to see it. It is neither good nor bad; it is just sort of there. Maybe if it pops up on TV, you can check it out. But, to be honest, this film is really for Ernest devotees (if there are any still around) or people who are desperate to see a Christmas movie.