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8-Bit Christmas (2021) | Movie Review

It’s certainly time for the onslaught of holiday movies, and this one caught me by surprise. 8-Bit Christmas has arrived on HBO. Max. Was this a good or a bad Christmas surprise?

8-Bit Christmas Review

In 1980s Chicago, a ten-year-old sets out on a quest to get the Christmas gift of his generation – the latest and greatest video game system.

Neil Patrick Harris stars as Adult Jake Doyle and serves as our narrator. In this Christmas story, There is a brilliant mix of definitely Maybe and a Christmas story. Jake recounts the story of his childhood quest to get a Nintendo to his young daughter.

The way this is told is extremely cute, as the daughter will interject some questions and we watch the visuals of that story that’s being told change right on the fly.

For one example, one thing that’s shown in the trailer is how Jake is talking about racing his bike through their town to get to another kid’s house, and the daughter asks if he was wearing a helmet, and so then boom, the young version of Jake suddenly has a beanie replaced by a bike helmet.

And for all of us that grew up in the 80s, there was no such thing as bike helmets. I mean, safety was not something that we took into consideration too much. Cuts, bruises and scars those built the character.

There are several scenes like this, and I love how the movie fully embraces the absurdity. It takes all of the fun and charm from the 80s and exploits those times to create a wonderful nostalgia Fest. The aesthetics are excellent so that it truly feels like the 80s when we watch this story unfold.

And so many things are just subtle nuts, like a kid is wearing a Swatch and it had a rubber face protector across it. 

Then there are moon boots, Cabbage Patch kids, and roller rinks that also feature prominently in this. Then, of course, the ever-present quest to get a Nintendo, which is the driving force for the narrative.

I love the fervor that has stirred up amongst the kids as the possibility of getting a Nintendo arises. I mean, even if you’re not a child of the 80s, every few years, some toy becomes just a must-have, causing the world to go mad. So this becomes a story that can be very relatable to just about anyone.

The characters in this are rich with fun and utter ridiculousness, and I love that the movie knows what it is, and then it totally goes for it.

When the actors are called upon to be over the top, they answer that call with unbridled enthusiasm, making the scenes a ton of fun.

The young Jake is played by Winslow Fegley, who was most recently in the Netflix film Night Books. But he’s also been in other things like Come Play and Timmy failure and Mistakes were made.

He is snarky and goofy, and I enjoyed his chemistry with the rest of his costars, and the rest of the cast is great to watch.

We have Steve Zahn and June Diane Raphael as Jake’s parents, and they are great together, and so much of them feels like Mother and old Man Parker from a Christmas story.

And they steal the scenes, especially Zahn, as he is able to throw any self-consciousness out of the window and become exactly what the role needs. An Overthetop dad who’s got a good heart but is also just a bit of a buffoon.

This makes for some funny moments, but he also gets a few moments to reel it all in and then become very endearing.

All of young Jake’s friends create a hilarious mix that made me laugh out loud several times, and they embody so many different personality types, making the dynamics incredibly entertaining.

I mean, we have the intelligent go-getter the kid who’s just allergic to everything, the prolific liar, the loyal best friend, the oddball, and the bully.

And of course, many of the situations are complete setups to maximize the fun and stupidity, but that’s what makes them work so well.

The situations are predictable and yet really funny and enjoyable. I loved the singular determination the friends have in trying to get an NES.

Some of the things they do are goofy, but their earnestness helped to suck me into the story and root for them to succeed.

It is a quick watch at 97 minutes, and the movie doesn’t really waste any time on the nonessentials. Now, I do think perhaps some character explanations could have been dived into more, but I don’t think it harmed the story.

The things I’m thinking, like adult Jake’s marriage, raise some questions because of some dialogue, but ultimately it’s not pivotal to the narrative.

And despite all the silliness and laughs, there is a heartfelt moment at the end. Now I liked the emotion and the heart that it brought, but it did come on a little abruptly.

I would have enjoyed a few more minutes of relationship establishing so that the final moments would have felt even more earned.

So overall, 8-Bit Christmas is an awesome stroll down memory Lane, especially for all of us. Gen Xers. This modern-day rendition of a Christmas story has a lot of laughs, some wonderful nostalgia, and endearing actors that all work together to craft an easy and fun holiday story.

While the ending emotion did feel a little rushed, the overall heart of the narrative is great to experience, made all the better through a story told by Neil Patrick Harris, and despite it being set squarely in the 80s.

You don’t have to have been a child of that decade for the story to resonate, it holds on to timeless themes like family, friendship, and adventure, making this a movie for everyone to enjoy.

There’s no sex or nudity, some mild profanity, and a little bit of violence.

So I am going to give 8-Bit Christmas Movie a B-Minus.

8-Bit Christmas Review

What’s a good holiday comedy that you enjoy. Let me know what makes you laugh in the comments. 

Guys thank you so much as always for reading the review of the 8-Bit Christmas movie. See you next time with another movie review.

8-Bit Christmas Trailer

Here is the 8-Bit Christmas Trailer, a Christmas Comedy Family film.

A full-time movie/Series critic and editor of with one goal: To help you find great content.


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