Follow by Email

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Call him Santa!: A Very Mimsey Review of Ernest Saves Christmas

Hello Gentle Readers,

Today begins the first day of our 2nd Annual Twelve Days of Mimsey. Since I am the guy best known for writing a Christmas murder mystery...

I thought, why not share with you one of my favorite Christmas movies. Specifically, my all-time favorite Santa Claus. 

This guy. 

So join me as I review that miracle of American Cinema....
Get it here!


For those that don't know, Ernest, played by Jim Varney started life as a commercial spokesperson. He was a loveable redneck who would gladly shill for pretty much everything. 

Literally. EVERYTHING!

The character's popularity led to both a movie and a TV show, and as is inevitable with movies and TV shows, the Christmas episode was inevitable. In 1988, the world was gifted with the magic that was Ernest Saves Christmas. 

It opens up with the real hero of this flick, Santa Claus, arriving at the airport. I know it says Ernest on the title, but make no mistake, this is Santa's journey. See, Jolly Old St. Nick is in town to find a replacement, which touches on one of the important themes of this movie. It's not just about hijinks and Jim Varney doing funny faces. 

No joke, my Mom can quote this entire scene. 

It's also about growing older, letting things go and realizing that everything has a season. Santa has to pass the torch by Christmas Eve to a new Claus, or the magic of Christmas will be lost. Enter Ernest. 

He's the one on the right. 

He's NOT the mystical chosen one, but is just some schmoe with a cab, terrible driving skills and a heart of gold. In a film series where he became a mystical warrior, got superpowers from electrocution, and fought trolls with Eartha Kitt....Wow, those movies sound awesome! 

And yes. There is literally a movie where
Ernest teams up with Catwoman to fight trolls. 
It's seven levels of stupid.

However, what makes me like Ernest Saves Christmas more then any of the others is how ordinary Ernest is in this. Well, ordinary for Ernest. 

Ernest picks up Santa from the airport, and while driving him across town rescues teenager Harmony. The young woman is a chronic liar and runaway, and was ducking out on a restaurant bill when she jumps into Ernest's cab. When Ernest drops Santa off at the Children's Museum, Santa reveals he mistakenly brought children's play money instead of real cash. Ernest being Ernest, knocks off the meter.

How can you say no to that face?

Once again, we touch on this idea of encroaching senility and how time catches up to us all. Not only has Santa forgotten to bring money, but he also leaves his magic sack in Ernest's cab. He only realizes this after meeting with the man he wants as his replacement, Joe, a low-rent Mr. Rogers. 

Why he didn't just ask Mr. Rogers, I have no idea. 

Joe, instead of listening to the adorable old man, instead listens to his slimy agent who has him a job. Not just any job, but a movie! A movie where he fights evil monsters and must save Christmas. They call it Santa's Slay!

This is a real movie. 
 . Because Hollywood is literally out of ideas.
You can own it here
Meanwhile, the Joe's slimy agent gets Santa arrested for vagrancy, and thrown in jail. It's up to the crack team of Ernest and Harmony (the lying teenager) to bust Santa out. 

Costumes are involved. 

Santa gets his magic sack back, Ernest and Santa team up to save the day, and Harmony switches Santa's bag for a sack full of feathers. Because she just doesn't make good decisions. 

This is her outfit in 90% of the movie. 
It is a historical artifact for everything wrong with the 80s.

Santa tracks down Joe, but can't prove his identity because he's carrying a sack of feathers. For some reason, even to this day, the scene where Santa admits that he knows it's feathers just breaks my heart. Here's a kind old man who just wants one person to believe in him. There's a great scene, just before Ernest and Santa set off to Joe's house, where Santa has a really wonderful nonverbal moment. Where he knows exactly what Harmony did, and has faith that she will come through in the end. 

Because Santa Claus believes in YOU!

The film climax is an insane romp where Ernest has to get Santa's sleigh to the Children's Museum, helped by two of Santa's Elves. 

These two. 

And in true Ernest fashion, he drives in the worst way possible, as fast as possible, and gets there in the nick of time.

Screaming all the way...

Joe sees Ernest whipping around greater Orlando, and finally believes. He turns down his lucrative deal, giving up the opportunity to appear in Sharknado and taking the job of Santa Claus. 

I keep waiting for him to say "I've made a terrible mistake."

That leaves the O.G. Santa stuck as a human, and he immediately begins flirting with the lovely secretary from the Children's Museum. 

Played by Billie Bird. 
Don't worry kids, he'll be fine. 

And the film ends with Ernest, Joe, Harmony and the Elves sleighing off into the horizon, off to spread Christmas cheer to the world. Or at least the part of the world who believes in Santa. 

Presumably, they'll save the Krampus for the sequel.

So, that's Ernest Saves Christmas. It's a stupid movie, yes. But, it's also one of the more interesting explorations of senility, aging and what it means to sacrifice for the good of others. And I love it! I love watching it, I loved reviewing it, and I still think the Santa in this movie is one of the best cinematic Santa's of all time. 

He also did the voice of the Sultan in Aladdin.

Thanks for joining me on the first day of the Twelve Days of Mimsey. Make sure you stop in tomorrow when we celebrate INDEPENDENCE DAY!!!!

Jay Mims writes books, blogs, and recently wrote about what made Disney Princess' tick. Jay lives with The Mimsus, a semi-adopted cat named Eartha Kitty, a lizard named Bob and a passive-aggressive Dalek named Steve. Jay is far funnier on Facebook then in real life. He is terrible at Twitter.  Jay now has a website.


  1. The girl who played Harmony was born on Christmas day. Google it.

  2. Is sex dirty? Only when it’s being done right. Hey, i am looking for an online sexual partner ;) Click on my boobs if you are interested (. )( .)