Listen, we're not trying to be rude, but if you're not a child of the 80's, you should probably move on the other posts on our site, because this review of 8-Bit Christmas, and the movie itself, aren't aimed at you.
For everyone who did grow up in that crazy decade, how many times have you seen A Christmas Story? You know the one - a little kid in the 1950's named Ralphie spends the entire film trying to get his dream Christmas present: a Red Ryder BB gun. He goes through all sorts of adventures in pursuit of that thing. The movie came out in 1983, and by our rough calculations, it's been shown approximately 3.2 billion times on cable TV since then. It's a holiday classic.
Now there's 8-Bit Christmas (now available on HBO Max), which is begging to be seen as the new Christmas Story. There's nothing subtle about the movie's goal, and that's fine, because it's time for an updated story. "Doogie Howser" himself, Neil Patrick Harris, plays Jake Doyle, a man with a young daughter named Annie (played by Sophia Reid-Gantzert), who wants a cell phone for Christmas more than anything. Jake says no, but he tells Annie that he's no stranger to wanting the cool technology of the day. He then narrates the story of when he was a kid in the Chicago area in the 1980's and was obsessed with the thing that millions of children dreamed of at the time: A Nintendo Entertainment System.
What follows is the updated Christmas Story tale, wrapped in glorious 80's childhood nostalgia. There are reminders of that time in every scene, from the soundtrack, to the presence of Trapper Keepers, to the NES itself. Young Jake experiences many of the sorts of ups and downs that Ralphie endured in pursuit of his beloved BB gun. He and his friends eventually hatch a plan to get their own system. You can see many/most of the key moments coming, but the young kids are a fun group, and having Doogie narrate it generates its own level of fond memories. Presumably the story is set in the Chicago region as a tribute to the late director John Hughes, who set most of his 1980's movies in the area.
It's a fun ride for those who remember the obsessive childhood pursuits of things like Nintendo systems and Cabbage Patch kids, but the last 20-30 minutes elevates the whole thing to a higher level. No spoilers, but the movie hits the "Christmas spirit" and family notes hard and lands a bullseye. This is why we're rooting for 8-Bit Christmas to become the next movie to get its own 24-hour marathon on TNT every Christmas. It's a feel-good family tale. It sticks with you and leaves you happy you gave it your time.
A fun way to start the holiday season. (pic via hollywoodoutbreak.com)
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