Ernest Saves Christmas is an improvement on Ernest Goes to Camp, mostly because of Seale. But basically it's another TV ad, a chestnut roasting on an open fire, exploding in your face every so often with another Ya know what I mean? [15 Nov 1988, p.7]
Though Ernest barely exists apart from his trademark catch phrase (Kno- whut-I-mean?) and his propensity for waggling his nose in wide-angle lenses, Varney's energetic mugging is good for a few mild laughs.
A combination of fresh twists, worn cliches, and frenetic camerawork, this film offers a premise that adults may not subscribe to--namely, that even Santa gets old, tired, forgetful, and in need of replacement. Still, the character with a heart of gold aims to entertain the young set and generally hits his targets.
The best that can be said for the film is that it leaves Ernest behind now and then to focus on Santa, who is played by Douglas Seale with sweetness, sincerity and an amazing amount of dignity, considering his surroundings.