08th Dec2021

‘8-Bit Christmas’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Neil Patrick Harris, Winslow Fegley, Steve Zahn, June Diane Raphael, Che Tafari, Sophia Reid-Gantzert, Santino Barnard, Max Malas, Brielle Rankins, Braelyn Rankins, Cyrus Arnold, Chandler Dean | Written by Kevin Jakubowski | Directed by Michael Dowse

A Christmas movie set in the eighties with a story centered around a child that is desperate to a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES for short) as his main present?! 8-Bit Christmas is one of those movies that seems made for me (and I’m sure many other people of a similar age). In fact it could almost be written about me too – again, I’m sure there’s plenty of people that feel the same! Getting past the nostalgia though, can this movie remain entertaining.

The story is told through Neil Patrick Harris, as Jake, as an adult in modern day. He introduces his daughter to the NES and then tells her the story of how he got it. That opening scene in which we see the NES and Jake pulls out a box with all his games and starts playing Paperboy hit me with so much nostalgia! I couldn’t help but have a massive smile on my face and the movie would have to do quite a lot to get rid of it. As it is, 8-Bit Christmass had me grinning throughout and the humour works really well. I wasn’t laughing out loud but I did constantly have a smile on my face.

It isn’t all about video games though. Well, it kinda is but there’s plenty more to the story than just that and people uninterested in Nintendo will still have stuff to enjoy. There’s more than a small influence from A Christmas Story and at times it feels like a Christmas episode of The Goldberg’s but neither of these are bad things and 8-Bit Christmas has plenty of its own ideas.

Everyone can relate to a ten year old that is desperate to get a certain present for Christmas. Throwing out hints to your parents or just outright asking them, getting a sibling or your friends to help out in any way possible, do everything you possibly can to get that present from Santa Claus.

Of course, without the right actors, these characters wouldn’t work and the young cast are thankfully great. Winslow Fegley as a young Jake tows the line perfectly as the kid most people were when they were younger, so while he is till a little annoying it works because we all were at that age! Playing his parents are Steve Zahn and June Diane Raphael and they are both perfectly cast. I’ve always liked Zahn and I don’t think he generally gets the praise he deserves. There’s more layers to this character than at first seems and it turns into one of my favourite roles for him. Raphael has less to work with maybe but she plays the super busy wholesome American eighties mum perfectly.

If like me, you like your Christmas movies full of Christmas, you’ll be glad to hear that there’s lots of snow, decoration-covered shopping malls, several Santa Claus’, festive music and a Christmas morning scene with everyone opening there presents.

8-Bit Christmas, despite a few scenes that aren’t for the youngest kids, does try to give the right message – the message that there is more to Christmas than just getting the present your desperately want. But it does this well with a really feel-good (if slightly predictable) ending. Perhaps take one star off of this review if you weren’t born in the eighties and/or have never owned a NES, for everyone though this is one of the better cheerful Christmas movies that isn’t a rom-com.

**** 4/5

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