By: Justin Hopkins
This might seem to be a stretch to run with. There are more beloved classics to pick. You got the likes of Gremlins, Miracle on 34th Street, It’s A Wonderful Life, and a trio of Grinch movies to select, or even Die Hard for the lols, but I think Ernest deserves this slot. It is far from played out. There is no day long marathons, nor does it seem to pop up in a whole lot of conversations when talking about favorite. Which is a shame, because it’s a fantastic, light hearted Christmas film. So, I thought we’d take a break from the horror, monsters, and mayhem and delve into the world of Ernest P. Worrell, man who lives his life in the fast lane.
The movie opens up, with an two old men getting off an airplane, in Florida. Each talking business. One a businessman, and the other is of course Santa Clause in a regular suit and tie, and he is not afraid to say it. There is a rather fun joke taken at Pittsburgh from the businessman, who wants snow for Christmas. Then we get our first look at Ernest, who is driving someone to the Airport, and the slapstick starts right up, when the man tells him to hurry up, and Ernest obliged in his own way. Speeding to the point where the man falls out of the car and petrifies in fear, and his agony continues from there. Ernest doesn’t mean anything bad of course, just him trying to help, in his own way, and after dropping the man in baggage terminal and chased by an angry group of people. Runs in Santa and speed away in the cab. This is where Santa admits to who he is and needs to meet with a former Children Tv Show Host, Joe Carruthers. Who we find out later, is to take over the mantle as the new Santa Clause. On the way, they meet Harmony. A juvenile delinquent, who jumps in the cab during a dine and dash. Making up a story about being held captive at the restaurant. They finally arrive at the Children’s Museum, where Joe volunteers, and Ernest comps him for the ride, because he doesn’t have real money, and it’s christmas time and all. When he finally gets a chance to talk to Joe, is interrupted by Joe’s agent who has a movie audition for him, and when Santa goes to explain why he is there. Realizes he left his bag in Ernests car. Meanwhile, we see Ernest being fired for giving to many free rides. Back at Santa Joe wants to help, but the agent convinces him to go to the audition, and the agent learns who he is, and thinks he is crazy and gets him arrested. We go to Ernest and Harmony who are bringing Vern a tree, which may be the best scene in the movie, and when Ernest is getting bolt cutters, opens the bag and discovers that he really is Santa Claus and it’s up to him to get the bag back into the right hands and save Christmas.
This was such a fun story, that kind of added some layers to Santa’s Lore. That the magic is not unlimited. He has to pass the torch down to someone new every few hundred years or so. It’s an intriguing look, and handled well throughout. The B side of the story was great as well, with Bobby and Carl at the Airport, with the reindeer. It was nice little filler that helped break up the main story without detracting from it. You knew something important was going to happen, due to the reindeer and Bobby and Carl were so good that got excited when they cut back, and when the climax came. Storylines came together nicely. For me as well, not being a fan of comedy in general. This never really has a drop off that I normally see. Even when things look bleak, the actors are strong enough to keep you invested. Of course, big fan of foreshadowing, slightly minor ones. When Joe makes it snow, to bring the businessman’s Christmas wish from the start happen, and them playing up Ernest forgetting Blitzen’s name when he needs to get the sleigh to fly. One was sweet and the other was fun. Both got their desired effects and was better for them.
Jim Varney, is absolutely fantastic. Comedic timing in perfect and great at body language and movements. He was just always on and mixed up his disguises with ease. Ernest being such a good hearted person, who always looks on the brightside fit perfectly into the story, and he may not be the brightest, but he had a moment that should he wasn’t completely dumb. When him and Santa came back from the studio. Knew Harmony did something with the bag, and pointed it out to Santa. Showing he is self aware of what Harmony is up to and fleshed him out more than just a naive klutz.
From there, you can take your pick of excellent talent. Oliver Clark who played Joe, came across as the perfect guy to become Santa. He was just such a nice guy, when it came to being around kids. Ready to drop everything to help a man he doesn’t know find his bag. Douglas Seale could beliveably been Santa in real life. Noelle Parker did a great job bringing a complexity to Harmony. That she wasn’t a bad kid. Just one who was lost and confused about so much in her life, and sent her into a bit of a spiral and of course, enough can’t be said about Gailard Sartain and Bill Byrge, Bobby and Carl were a joy to watch.
I don’t have anything negative to really say here. Anything would just be nitpicky stuff that is down to the age. Mostly due to special effects and what not. Not worth talking about. It was everything I could ask for from an Ernest movie. Great slapstick humor, with a warm hearted feel to it. Wants to get you into the holiday spirit and achieves that goal marvelously. Final Grade: A
Thank you for reading.