Ernest Saves Christmas (1988)

ernest saves christmas poster 1988 movie
5.0 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 5/10

Average holiday movie

Kids might not get Ernest and too kiddy for adults

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Ernest Saves Christmas

Studio: Touchstone Pictures/Silver Screen Partners III/Emshell Producers

Genre(s):  Comedy/Family/Seasonal

Release Date(s):  November 11, 1988

MPAA Rating:  PG


There’s magic in this here bag!!!

Santa Claus (Douglas Seale) finds it is time to pass on his mantle to a new Santa. When he picks a former Florida kids’ show host named Joe Carruthers (Oliver Clark), he’s off to Orlando to recruit him. Santa Claus hails a cab and ends up with Ernest P. Worrell (Jim Varney) as his driver. Along with a runaway named Harmony Starr (Noelle Parker), Santa Claus and Ernest must get Carruthers to accept the gift of Christmas before it is too late.

Directed by John R. Cherry III, Ernest Saves Christmas followed Ernest’s popular big screen turn in Ernest Goes to Camp in 1987. It was met with so-so reviews, but it did perform well in the theaters.


What type of medical benefits does this come with?

If you’ve seen one Ernest movie, you’ve kind of seen them all. Much like a Laurel and Hardy or an Abbott and Costello, Ernest seems almost incidental to the plot. In the movie, he almost acts as a foil, sometimes helping and sometimes causing more problems. Ernest, of course, delivers his one-liners that made the character popular and there is an unnecessary visit to Vern’s house to keep in the spirit of the character.

The Santa Claus aspect of the story is almost like A Miracle on 34th Street. He has to reach people and get them to see the spirit of the holiday. He’s aided by Ernest’s love of the holiday, and of course a rapscallion type wisecracker that also learns to believe by the end of the story. It is a pretty sugary story so unless you are younger, it might be hard to take.


Ok…if I can’t be Santa I guess you’ll do.

Visually, the movie looks like it could be straight-to-video despite getting a big theatrical release. The “magic” of Santa doesn’t look very inspiring and the obligatory Santa’s crazy sleigh ride isn’t particularly crazy or interesting…probably the most visually interesting part is the reindeer that are walking on the ceiling of the warehouse where they are being held (and tormenting workers Gailard Sartain and Bill Byrge). It isn’t very technical, but it is amusing to see them on the roof upside down.

Ernest Saves Christmas was fun for younger kids when it came out at the height of Ernest popularity. I don’t know if kids today would enjoy it, and it definitely isn’t for adults. Ernest Saves Christmas isn’t the best Christmas film, but it also isn’t the worse.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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