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.