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Ernest Saves Christmas Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 8+

Goofy holiday movie is OK fun for families, knowwhatImean?

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?

The good stuff
  • educationalvalue true0

    Educational value: The movie intends to entertain rather than to educate.

  • message true1

    Messages: There's an underlying theme of redemption and forgiveness surrounding a teen's coming to terms with her family troubles, but the movie aims more to entertain audiences than to evoke any hearty messages.

  • rolemodels true1

    Role models: Despite his idiosyncrasies, Ernest means well and strives to do the right thing, and he's got holiday spirit to spare.

What to watch for
  • violence false1

    Violence and scariness: There's nothing violent to the content, but there are some near-misses between cars on the freeway and peril as Ernest loses control of Santa's sleigh. In one scene, a man is crushed by a large crate and remains stuck to it when it's raised. A man wields a prop gun in a movie scene, and Ernest suffers some snake bites in another.

  • sex false0

    Sexy stuff: Not an issue

  • language false0

    Language: In one instance, a man cries "Son of a . . . " but doesn't finish the phrase.

  • consumerism false3

    Consumerism: Strategically placed brand names grace billboards, car tops, and items the characters hold and include Coca-Cola, Nissan, Bud Light, Bic pens, and FTD.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false0

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: No use of the products, but the Bud Light name is visible on a billboard.