Saturday, December 24, 2011

Ernest Saves Christmas (1988)

A lot of people speak negatively about the spectacle of drying paint. I'm really not sure why that is. When I reflect on the gradual transition between its initial shimmering, almost glass-like surface to its final matte state - which is in itself brighter and more vibrant than it will ever appear again, before the dirt and grime settles, before years of greasy fingerprints and scuff marks - it hardly seems tedious at all: if anything, drying paint symbolizes the fleeting beauty of youth maturing into stability.

In fact, given the choice between the two, there is no question in my mind that I would far rather watch paint dry than see Ernest Saves Christmas again, and would - without hesitation - recommend the same to anyone else faced with a similar set of options.

The central problem with this movie is that, at its core, it is a pointless, boring sequence of events, a vapid and uninspired waste of time devoid of humor, meaning, or entertainment. I do want to stress that this is the movie's primary issue: there are certainly other flaws that I'm glossing over in the interest of time.

For those unfamiliar with the character of Ernest P. Worell, the concept revolves around a well-meaning idiot from Kentucky armed with a handful of catchphrases kids found funny in the 1980's for reasons anthropologists have yet to agree on. There is another insignificant character named Vern, who appears to be a anthropomorphic camera.

I'm operating under the assumption that this movie was supposed to be a comedy, based on the constant string of what appeared to be jokes. It is difficult to determine the actual intent, however, as nothing in the movie was in the least bit funny. In addition, there seemed to have been a coordinated effort to film this in the least interesting manner possible.

Perhaps this was done to drive audiences from the theater before the end of the film, in order to empty the theaters early and free time for additional screenings. If so, the producers should be commended for such innovative and forward strategic thinking, which clearly influenced numerous contemporary filmmakers like Brett Ratner.

Setting aside the ability to drive viewers to the brink of suicide, the only other thing competent in the entire picture was its portrayal of Santa. The actor did a surprisingly capable job playing a version of St. Nick similar to the one in Miracle on 34th Street. It's unclear why he bothered trying so hard, given that he seemed to be the only one putting in effort.

I consider it needless to say, but I'll do so anyway: do not watch this movie. And do not let your kids watch it. Dear God, imagine if they liked it: you’d have to get it for them on DVD, then they’d make you sit through it year after year.

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