Ernest Saves Christmas came out in 1988. Like all the Ernest films, it is on the edge of absurd. Though, many people who have seen more than one Ernest film will probably agree that this is the best one. The title implies that Christmas has to be saved, and as in with most Christmas movies, that means it is going to be about Santa. In this film Santa is retiring and has gone to Orlando, Florida to appoint a replacement. He ends up in Ernest’s taxicab and from there faces all sorts of challenges in finding his replacement.
As I kid I remember watching this one on my mom’s VHS tapes. The opening credits begin with a series of Norman Rockwell paintings, and as I’d see them I’d always expect to see some sentimental movie like Miracle on 34th Street or something, as those paintings suggested something emotional. Every year I found myself happy to be watching a comedy, although somewhat sentimental I admit, instead. Of course, eventually I remembered that the film that starts with the paintings is about Ernest.
One thing does kind of bother me, and that is that the character Harmony/Pamela spends an awful lot of time hanging around Ernest. In fact, she spends the night at his house. Considering that she is about sixteen and Ernest is approaching forty, that doesn’t quite sit right. I may be saying this as someone who was young in the 90s, when accusations of child abuse were rampant and feared by everyone, maybe because of the Michael Jackson trial in 1993. Maybe in 1988 life wasn’t like that, and it didn’t seem so abnormal for a young girl to be hanging out with an older guy, but if this movie was made today it would be very different.
Watching it today I also thought it was kind of strange that the man chosen to replace Santa, Joe Carruthers, was clearly single, and didn’t seem to have any children of his own. The reason this man is chosen as the replacement Santa is because he had a natural understanding of children. That makes me ask, if he had such a great understanding of children how come he didn’t have his own kids? Why was he a fifty year old bachelor? I think there would be a lot more people qualified to become Santa, especially someone who had had their own kids, and had shown that as a father they could be patient with their children. Traditionally there is a Mrs. Claus, but not in this film.
I’ve criticized this film, and pointed out that there are a few things that, at least today, many people would consider creepy. I do really like this film, though. That’s why I’ve saved it for Christmas Eve Eve. It is my favorite Christmas film. It is very entertaining, and really brings in that warm feeling that you want to have around Christmas.
There is only one day left in my holiday tradition. Tomorrow night I will watch the last of my Christmas shows, and then they will be put away for another year. The final show is my absolute favorite of all time, but I don’t want to give anything away today.