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Ernest Saves Christmas

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Ernest saves christmas poster

The poster for the film's theatrical release.

Ernest Saves Christmas is a Christmas comedy film directed by John R. Cherry III and released by Touchstone Pictures in 1988. It is the third theatrical film starring Jim Varney as his commercial spokesman character, Ernest P. Worrell.


A man who claims to be Santa Claus arrives at the Orlando International Airport. Ernest P. Worrell is working as a taxi driver. He later picks up Santa Claus, who tells him that he is on his way to inform a local personality named Joe Curruthers that he has been chosen to be the new Santa Claus. Joe hosts a children's program in the Orlando area, similar to Mister Roger's Neighborhood, with emphasis on manners and integrity with the catchphrase "They never get old. They always stay new. Those three little words, 'Please' and 'Thank You'."

While they are driving, a runaway teenage girl who says she is named Harmony Starr joins Ernest and Santa in the cab. When they get to their destination, Santa possesses no legal currency (only play money), so in his giving Christmas spirit, Ernest lets him ride for free. The decision gets him fired. Back at the taxi garage, he discovers that Santa left his magic sack behind in the cab's trunk, and he begins a quest to find the old man and return it to him.

Santa arrives at the Orlando Children's Museum to talk to Joe, but is interrupted and rebuffed by his agent, Marty Brock. He misunderstands Santa's name, thinking he said "Mr. Santos," and continues to call him by that name, even when he tells him his real name. He begins to worry as he then discovers he lost his sack, and becomes more discouraged as he realizes he is becoming forgetful in his old age (he's 151 years old, indicating he was born in 1837). Joe does not believe Santa's story and Marty has him arrested. Meanwhile, Ernest goes over to his neighbor Vern's house, to put up a Christmas tree. He poses as Astor Clement, an employee of the governor and Harmony as the governor's niece, and the two help Santa escape from jail by convincing the police chief that believing that he is Santa Claus is "infectious insanity" and he must be taken to solitary confinement. Ernest disguises himself as an Apopka snake rancher (Lloyd Worrell from Knowhutimean? Hey Vern, It's My Family Album) who sneaks Santa into a movie studio and speaks to a security guard about delivering the snakes to people who direct horror films. Meanwhile, Marty presses Joe to quit his children's job, shave his beard, and instead land a part in a horror film titled Christmas Slay a movie about an alien which terrorizes a bunch of children on Christmas Eve which offends Santa so deeply he punches the director in the eye.

Santa tracks down Joe at his home, but he finally tells him, " thanks." Later on, however, he is overcome by conscience when the director wants him to use foul language, which he refuses to say in front of the kids on the set.

Ernest and Harmony discover the magic power of Santa's sack, and immediately Harmony starts to abuse it. She steals it, and attempts to run away yet again. On Christmas Eve, however, her conscience prevails, and she rushes back to find Ernest and Santa and return it.

Eventually, Joe hunts down Santa on Christmas Eve and accepts the job. For the first year, however, Ernest gets to drive the sleigh. The film ends with, "Merry Christmas To All And To All A Good Night," followed by a sleigh dash that spells, KnowWhatIMean?, one of Ernest's catchphrases.

Home video releases


Actor Character
Jim Varney Ernest P. Worrell
Astor Clement
Auntie Nelda
The Snake Guy
Douglas Seale Santa Claus (a.k.a. Seth Applegate)
Oliver Clark Joe Carruthers
Noelle Parker Harmony Starr (a.k.a. Pamela Trenton)
Gailard Sartain Chuck (Storage Agent)
Bill Byrge Bobby (Storage Agent)
Billie Bird Mary Morrissey
Key Howard Immigration Agent
Jack Swanson Businessman
Patty Maloney Thisbe
Ambrose Nzams Agent Skippy
Barry Brazell Cab Passenger
George Kaplan Mr. Dillis
Robert Lesser Marty Brock

External links

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed
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The Walt Disney Company
Animated shorts
Empty SocksMickey's OrphansSanta's WorkshopMickey's Good DeedThe Night Before ChristmasToy TinkersPluto's Christmas TreeThe Small OneMickey's Christmas Carol • "Jingle Bells, Something Smells" • "The Nutcracker" • "Mickey's Mixed Nuts" • "Mickey's Christmas Chaos" • Operation: Secret Santa • "Oh, Christmas Tree!"
Animated The Nightmare Before ChristmasBeauty and the Beast: The Enchanted ChristmasMickey's Once Upon a ChristmasWinnie the Pooh: Seasons of GivingMickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of MouseRecess Christmas: Miracle on Third StreetA Very Merry Pooh YearMickey's Twice Upon a ChristmasMy Friends Tigger & Pooh: Super Sleuth Christmas MovieA Christmas Carol
Live-action Babes in ToylandOne Magic ChristmasThe Christmas StarErnest Saves ChristmasA Mom For ChristmasIn the Nick of TimeThe Muppet Christmas CarolThe Santa ClauseThe Christmas TreeI'll Be Home For ChristmasSanta Who?The Ultimate Christmas Present 'Twas the NightThe Santa Clause 2Eloise at ChristmastimeThe Santa Clause 3: The Escape ClauseSanta BuddiesThe Search for Santa PawsGood Luck Charlie, It's Christmas!Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups
Television specials and episodes
Television specials From All of Us to All of YouA Disney Christmas GiftA Disney Channel ChristmasWinnie the Pooh and Christmas TooA Goof Troop ChristmasPhineas and Ferb Christmas Vacation!Prep & LandingMickey's Christmas SpecialPrep & Landing: Naughty vs. NiceToy Story That Time ForgotFrozen holiday special
Television episodes Disney Television Animation "Jolly Molly Christmas" • "It's a Wonderful Leaf" • "Miracle at the 34th Precinct" • "Doug's Secret Christmas" • "A Christmas Cruella" • "Yes, Mikey, Santa Does Shave" • "Don't Be Elfish" • "A Kosher Christmas" • "A Dog For All Seasons" • "The Worst Holiday Ever" • "Holiday Time" • "Seven Days of Kwanzaa" • "The Blight Before Christmas" • "Cheery Theerlap, Lloyd" • "Pete's Christmas Caper" • "Clarabelle's Christmas List" • "Happy Holidays, Mr. Gruff!" • "A Very Possible Christmas" • "Topper" • "On Whiskers, On Lola, On Cheryl and Meryl" • "Hairy Christmas" • "A Giftmas Story" • "Season's Beatings" • "Dick Daring's All-Star Holiday Stunt Spectacular V" • "Stitch and Santa" • "A Phineas and Ferb Family Christmas" • "A Cousin Kyle Christmas" • "Merry Fishmas, Milo" • "The Gift" • "Gingersnaps and Grumpy Snaps / Jollybells"
Playhouse Disney / Disney Junior "A Circus Town Christmas" • "Twinkle's Wish" • "The Christmas Wish " • "The Wind-Up Toy Prince" • "Mickey Saves Santa" • "The Night Before Zipsmas / A Gift For Zooter" • "Flicker Saves Christmas" • "The Ayalas' Christmas Extravaganza" • "The Living Holiday Lights" • "It's a Winter Never Land!" • "A Very McStuffins Christmas" • "Holiday in Enchancia" • "Captain Scrooge" • "Winter's Gift" • "Toby's Christmas Critter / A Very Tricky Christmas"
Television specials The Walt Disney Christmas ShowChristmas at Pooh CornerA Magic Kingdom Yuletide SpecialThe Disney Christmas SpecialMickey's NutcrackerDisney's Christmas Fantasy on IceA Muppets Christmas: Letters to SantaGood Luck Jessie: NYC ChristmasJessie's Aloha Holidays with Parker & JoeyDisney Channel Fa-La-La-Lidays Celebrates a Radio Disney Family Holiday
Television episodes Walt Disney Television "Christmas at the Circus" • "Christmas in Wonderland" • "Refrigerator Day" • "A Roman Holiday" • "Fountain" • "Happy Holidays" • "Heck of a Hanukkah" • "Xtreme Xmas" • "Escape Claus" • "Christmas at the Tipton" • "Christmas Break" • "Killing Me Softly With His Height" • "Present Problem" • "Happy Ha-Ha Holidays" • "A So Random! Holiday Special" • "A London Carol" • "Bro Ho Ho" • "So Random! Episode 18" • "Pair of Santas" • "sANTa's Little Helpers" • "Christmas Story" • "Jingle It Up" • "A Little Elf Esteem" • "A Duncan Christmas" • "Bark! The Herald Angels Sing" • "Merry Merry It Up" • "Oh, Christmas Nuts!" • "Big Dreams & Big Apples" • "Nanny in Miami" • "Fa La La La-A-Rooney" • "Mix-Ups & Mistletoes" • "Twas the Mission Before Christmas" • "silANT night" • "Twas the Fight Before Christmas" • "Girl Meets Home for the Holidays" • "Stan Steals Christmas" • "Merry Miss Sis" • "Secret Santa" • "Twas the Fight Before Christmas" • "The Girls of Christmas Past" • "Santas & Surprises" • "Joy-to-a-Rooney" • "Single All the Way"
Touchstone / ABC Studios "It's a Marginal Life" • "Yule Better Watch Out" • "I'm Scheming of a White Christmas" • "Santa's Little Helper" • "'Twas the Blight Before Christmas" • "Some Like It Hot Rod" • "'Twas the Night Before Chaos" • "'Twas the Flight Before Christmas" • "Easy Street" • "Bright Christmas" • "A Very Topanga Christmas" • "Home for the Holidays" • "An According to Jiminy Christmas" • "One Office Party Too Many" • "The Christmas Party" • "Secret Santa" • "Silent Night, Opening Night" • "Stalking Santa" • "Aru-Bah Humbug" • "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" • "The Gift of Maggie" • "Christmas Time" • "Light the Lights" • "The Miracle Song" • "Fake Plastic Snow" • "The Nutcracker" • "Two for the Money" • "Holidaze" • "Boom Crunch" • "Cold Turkey" • "How the 'A' Stole Christmas"
A Family ChristmasDisney's Merry Christmas CarolsA Pooh ChristmasDisney's Christmas CollectionDisney's Christmas Collection IIDisney's Family Christmas CollectionDisney's Snowy ChristmasDisney's Princess Christmas AlbumDisney's Merry Little ChristmasA Green and Red ChristmasDisney's Holiday Celebration 2007Disney Channel HolidayDisney Holiday Magic 2009Disney Winter Wonderland 2010Phineas and Ferb Holiday FavoritesMickey's Magical Holiday 2011Disney Channel Holiday Playlist
Disney Parks Christmas Day ParadeThe Magic of Christmas at DisneylandThe Magic of Christmas at Walt Disney WorldFa-La-La-Lidays

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