Directed by Michael Dowse
Stars Neil Patrick Harris, Winslow Fegley, June Diane Raphael, David Cross, and Steve
8-Bit Christmas is a holiday movie that many parents with young children in our modern world can relate to. The story gets its start by having the daughter ask the question that dozens of children around the globe have been asking for years, the simple request, to have a cell phone as this years Christmas present. This little request sends us off on a nostalgia filled adventure as Jake Doyle, played as an adult by Neil Patrick Harris, remembers his own childhood and going to the end of the earth to get the most popular tech of that time period- a Nintendo.
In 1980s Chicago, a 10-year-old embarks on a quest to get the latest and greatest video game system for Christmas.
That’s the strongest part of this new holiday movie, the fact that someone as delightful as Neil Patrick Harris is the narrator looking back on his childhood. Thus, there is constant points of an unreliable narrator situation where we’re left questioning what actually happened and how much of it is him stretching the story for his daughter. The characters are all given these absolutely ridiculous personalities each one more ridiculous than the last. Really focusing on certain quirks about each one and overstating them to make that quirk their personality. One is bound to have plenty of laughs with their family as we meet the hilarious community members of Bagravia, Illinois. As well, the story really bites into the over exaggeration that parents do about their childhood when talking about it to their children.
The cast is great, each of the kids really takes into their ridiculous quirky personality traits and makes it their own. The ones that really shine is our leading boy who plays the young version of Jake Doyle, Winslow Fegley. Who has enough credits now in his career to feel confident he can be a strong child lead. Bellaluna Resnick makes her debut as his little sister Lizzie, and she is very much a scene stealer- as the plotting and manipulative little sister who has the parents (Steve Zahn and June Diane Raphael) around her finger. Max Malas is also hilarious, he plays the pathological liar amongst the friend group, Jeff Farmer, and every story that he tells is more ridiculous than the last. We all know a Jeff Farmer, and that’s what makes the character so much fun.
On a story basis, it’s nothing that we haven’t seen before. It really thrives when it’s playing into its 1980’s nostalgia references from the shops, to the fashion trends, and even the sayings- the movie has fun honouring the unique-ness of the time period. The remainder of it is something that families will have fun with as Doyle and his friend group will do everything and anything possible to land themselves a Nintendo for the holidays. The ending though catches one off guard and hit on an emotional level far more than expected.
It’s nothing new, but if you have Crave in Canada or HBO Max in the states and you’re looking for something to watch with your family, 8-Bit Christmas, will be a lot of fun for everyone and makes for a nice Christmas watch.