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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The movie intends to entertain rather than to educate.
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.
Positive Role Models
Despite his idiosyncrasies, Ernest means well and strives to do the right thing, and he's got holiday spirit to spare.
Violence & 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.
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In one instance, a man cries "Son of a . . . " but doesn't finish the phrase.
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Products & Purchases
Strategically placed brand names grace billboards, car tops, and items the characters hold and include Coca-Cola, Nissan, Bud Light, Bic pens, and FTD.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
No use of the products, but the Bud Light name is visible on a billboard.
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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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
There's no sex, violence, or language to speak of, which makes Ernest Saves Christmas a fairly safe, if not exactly heartwarming, option for families. Varney's simple-minded alter ego was a mainstay during the '80s and '90s, when Ernest entertained his fans in numerous movies, commercials, and a short-lived TV show. Your kids probably won't know who he is, but they might recognize his voice from the first two Toy Story movies, for which he provided the voice of Slinky Dog. Whether you love or hate his slapstick-style humor, rubbery facial expressions, and litany of misinterpreted quotes ("What we have here is a failure to accumulate"), it's impossible not to be struck by what's obviously lacking in this holiday comedy: iffy content.
What will stand out most to parents is the movie's unabashed brand placement that gives air time to deep-pocketed players like Coca-Cola (whose products Varney/Ernest promoted throughout his career), Nissan, Bic, and, briefly, Bud Light. It's not frequent enough to be distasteful, but there's no denying the movie's motivation in including them in such an unavoidable way.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.