What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this 1988 movie starring actor Jim Varney's oddball alter ego is short on both strong content and Christmas cheer, but his trademark slapstick humor will keep a range of ages entertained nonetheless. Young kids may be confused by the storyline, which centers on an aging Santa (who's not dressed in the traditional red, so as to blend in) seeking out his replacement for the job, so it likely will raise more questions about the St. Nick legend than it's worth. Older kids and tweens will have more patience for Ernest's particular brand of comedy, and they'll be able to recognize the heartening story surrounding a runaway's journey back home. This movie is a fun blast from the past for parents for whom Ernest is a recognizable face from their formative years, and they'll probably spot the blatant product placement (Coca-Cola, Nissan, Bic) more easily than will their kids because of their familiarity with the ads of the time.
- Families can talk about comedy. How have the style and tone of comedy changed over time? What kinds of topics are subject to humor now that weren't decades ago? Does this change reflect a more lenient cultural view on certain issues or something else?
- Teens: Do you enjoy holiday movies in general? What are some of your favorites? Do you think this movie is attempting to teach a lesson, or is it meant solely for entertainment? Does entertainment always have to have a point?
- Did you notice any advertising throughout this movie? Does it seem like the rules about promoting products in TV shows and movies has changed over the years? Should there be different guidelines for advertising in shows aimed at adults and those aimed at kids?