Film / Ernest Saves Christmas

"You know, I've carried this torch for more seasons than... I should have done. 'Cause I loved it so much. But now... I've taken to making notes! Well, you can't do it that way! It shouldn't be done that way! It can't be done that way..."
Santa Claus

A 1988 film starring Jim Varney as his signature character, Ernest P. Worrell. In it, Ernest has to save Christmas by helping Santa Claus, who has been incarcerated after trying to track down a man who has been chosen to be the next Santa. It's up to Ernest to get Santa out of jail and get a hold of Joe, the man chosen to be the next Santa.

Tropes present:

  • '80s Hair: Harmony has this.
  • All-Loving Hero: Santa and Joe. It's actually one of the main requirements in being chosen as Santa.
  • An Ass-Kicking Christmas: Joe is being forced to star in a movie that is essentially this, but it goes against his morals.
  • Bag of Holding: Santa's sack, of course.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Harmony's outfit.
  • Batman Gambit: Santa wanted Harmony to steal the sack in order for her to learn what Christmas is all about and to take stock of her life.
  • Berserk Button: The director of "Christmas Slay" sure knows how to tick Santa off.
    "Terrorize children on Christmas?!"
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Santa punches the director of the sci-fi/horror movie Joe's up for in the face after learning how meanspirited it is, giving him a black eye.
  • Brick Joke: Early in the movie, Santa meets a man who wants to see snow on Christmas. Guess what's the first thing the new Santa does with his powers.
  • Curse Cut Short: "Die, you son of a...son of a..." Joe just can't swear. Especially in front of children.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Ernest getting his fare to the airport on time.
    • And again in the sleigh, though this is due to him having trouble controlling it.
  • Establishing Character Moment: For Harmony, running out of a restaurant without paying. For Joe, doing a puppet show for a group of children.
  • Face Cam: Just like in the Ernest P. Worrell commercials, the movie includes a brief scene from Vern's POV.
  • Friend to All Children: Joe Carruthers , which is why he's the perfect candidate to be Santa's replacement.
    • As well as the old Santa, as his Berserk Button indicates. This, more than anything else, is the trait a retiring Santa looks for when selecting a replacement.
  • Here We Go Again: The last scene shows Chuck and Bobby getting a new delivery: the Easter Bunny.
  • How Can Santa Deliver All Those Toys?: Ernest gives an answer that's just plain Technobabble. For example, to visit houses without a chimney, Santa can turn himself into a gelatinous goo and sneak in through the water pipes. He also uses Fantastic Science to turn all the toys he needs into small spherical orbs of light that re-materialize upon removal from his sack.
  • Hyperspace Wardrobe: As with every Ernest movie.
  • Lady Mondegreen: In-universe—several people mishear Santa's name as "Santos."
  • Legacy Character: Santa is this. At some point, he must pass the torch to a new Santa before his powers fade away.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Harmony eventually comes to this realization after she steals Santa's magic toysack.
    • The old Santa begins to sadly realize, that he kept going in his festive-role far longer than he should have done. Because he loved it so much. He's made the task of appointing a new Santa that much harder for himself. In cherishing Christmas too much, he may have doomed the holidays for everyone forever.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Ernest declines to charge Santa for the taxi ride—and gets fired for it.
  • Noodle Incident: Santa had hoped to transfer the powers much sooner, but he had experienced various unexplained delays while narrowing the list of candidates down to Joe.
  • No Antagonist: The only Ernest movie not to have any sort of central villain. Joe's agent Marty is the closest example as he is somewhat of a jerk and provides some trouble such as being the one who has Santa arrested, but he does not do so out of any intentional malevolence and does legitimately believe that he's helping Joe's career.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: This version of Ernest seems the most capable, and is thought to be playing up his stupidity. He did not actually believe that Santa is indeed Santa Claus until searching his sack, being skeptical of Harmony being alone with Santa's sack and her lies. He of course comes up with the schemes to get Santa out of jail, get Joe's location and sneak Santa into the studio.
  • Overly Long Gag: "M." "V." "M." "V." "M." "V." "M." "V."
    • "Oh Christmas tree oh Christmas tree...oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree."
  • Parental Neglect: According to Santa, Harmony ran away because her parents didn't give her the attention she needed.
  • Power of Trust: Santa's respective belief in both Joe and Harmony ultimately pays off by the end.
  • Product Placement: Surprisingly averted, seeing as the film is set in Orlando. Although there was a scene filmed at Disney's Hollywood Studios, it was not portrayed as such.
  • The Runaway: Harmony, a teenage girl Ernest picks up while driving his taxi and who tags along for most of the movie.
  • Running Gag: Ernest can never remember Blitzen's name.
  • The Quiet One: Bobby. The most he ever says is when he argues with Chuck over whether "Elves" is spelled with an "M" or a "V," and later when arguing if it's "F. Bunny" or "E. Bunny."
  • Santa Claus
  • Saving Christmas: See above or, if you're busy, just see the title.
  • Ship Tease: Between Santa (or, as he once again calls himself, "Seth Applegate") and the nice older lady he meets, Mary Morrison. They head off on what's apparently a date right before the movie ends, and we never see what becomes of it.
  • Shout-Out: To Star Wars when Ernest hits "Priority Delivery" mode on the sleigh and the sleigh suddenly accelerates within a light pattern much like the Millennium Falcon going into light speed.
    • Related to the above, one of the things Ernest shouts trying to get the reindeer to start flying is "May the Force be with you!"
    • And then the sleigh flies circles around the world, similar to Superman.
  • Smart Ball: Ernest picks it up when he suggests that Santa check his sack after they leave Harmony alone with it.
  • Space Is Noisy: Then again, it is Santa's sleigh.
  • Those Two Guys: Chuck and Bobby. This time, they're storage agents at the airport.
  • Totally Radical: A large part of Harmony's dialogue.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: The checkin attendant at the airport hardly bats an eye when Santa gives his name and then the two elves later in the movie. Chuck and Bobby also take reindeer walking on the ceiling in stride.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: While posing as a snake rancher, Ernest ends up receiving a bunch of real snakes.