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Cinema Connoisseur: The importance of seeing Ernest

Credit: Touchstone Pictures

Allen Gaynor | Interrobang | Lifestyles | November 26th, 2012

Ernest Saves Christmas (1988)

American Thanksgiving has come and gone, which means the Christmas shopping season has officially begun, kicked off by Black Friday. I have noticed a disturbing trend in recent years, with more people opting to do their shopping online instead of braving the madness of the malls.

Call me old fashioned, but I think the only way you can really express your love for your family this season is by standing in line for hours, and then making a mad dash for the latest electronic gadget or toy, taking out as many people as you can in the process. "You like your new My Little Pony, Judy? I fractured a man's pelvis to get that for you. Happy birthday, Jesus!"

The one thing that never changes about Christmas, however, is the movies. It's the most wonderful time of the year, particularly in theatres and on television, where you can catch yuletide classics like the one I'll be taking a look at this week.

Ernest Saves Christmas is the second of nine chapters in the classic Ernest P. Worrell opus. Ernest (Jim Varney) was a camp counsellor/ taxi driver/janitor/whatever the plot called for who at first annoyed everyone he came in contact with, but slowly won them over with his good nature and charm.

In Ernest Saves Christmas, Santa Claus has decided to retire, and finds himself in a taxi driven by Ernest. Santa tells Ernest that he is about to choose his replacement, a popular children's television host. Luckily it does not turn out to be Pee-Wee Herman, although that would open up plenty of room for innuendo about Santa's sack.

Santa has chosen local TV star Uncle Joey to don the red and white, but finds that his potential successor is none too keen to accept the position. Uncle Joey thinks that Santa is a nice but confused old man, and accepts an alternate position — as the star of a horror movie called Christmas Slay.

With no new Santa to take over, and the old Santa wallowing in self-pity, the task of saving Christmas falls squarely on the shoulders of Ernest. Is he successful? Well, I don't usually like to give out spoilers, but the film isn't called Ernest Nearly Saves Christmas But Falls Just Short.

Ernest has gone to camp, school, jail, Africa, and eventually Heaven. I cannot think of another character in motion picture history that has such a rich and colourful backstory. There is no better gift that you can give your loved ones this season than a copy of Ernest Saves Christmas. Even if they don't celebrate Christmas, give this to them, it will surely convert them.
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