The holidays are here, and as a parent, it represents such a hectic time of the year. Decorating, presents, cookies, there’s so much to love, but one of my absolute favorite things to do is binge the hell out of movies. Most of the time we play the classic holiday movies and throw in a few others for fun, but this year we had our world rocked by a rookie movie that has earned its spot in our regular rotation forevermore, I give you 8-Bit Christmas.
Directed by Michael Dowse, the movie tells of a Dad regaling his daughter about a Christmas from his past in which all he wanted was a Nintendo Entertainment System. The console that exploded onto the scene eighties and changed gaming forever. The film stars Neil Patrick Harris, and Winslow Fegley playing adult, and young Jake, Steve Zahn as John Doyle, June Diane Raphael as Kathy Doyle, and a slew of fantastic young talent that I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more of.
Flashback to the eighties, no internet, a handful of tv stations, and encyclopedias. It was a different time. So when the very first Nintendo burst onto the scene, it was an absolute game-changer. Now bottle that period into a movie, and you’ve got 8-Bit Christmas.
This film is one part John Hughes, one part A Christmas Story, and one part National Lampoons and it’s all covered in nostalgic wrapping paper. I’m not going to say this is a true classic, because the film is undercut by essentially serving as a modern retelling of A Christmas Story. It has a number of the same locational plot points, with the exact same overarching motive for the protagonist.
With all of that said, I still absolutely loved it. In an era where remakes happen every other week, we’ve almost been conditioned to expect the worst, but this film, this film is here to buck that trend.
From the narration by NPH to the performances of the child actors, this film deserves to stand on its two feet and be judged by its own merits. Hell, Zahn created a stupendous eighties Dad that by the end of the movie you’ll wish you could take home as your own. Zahn is both stern, and lovable, who invokes a parent witnessing the widening of the generation gap as he attempts to bond with his kids.
Fegley as the lead proves he has the chops to carry a performance, that is reinforced by amazing narrative delivery from NPH. The young actor has some supremely comical facial reactions that had me and my family cracking up.
What caught me largely by surprise, was the ending of the film. Out of nowhere, the film packs a huge serving of emotional resonance. While the film is an out-and-out comedy, it does a fantastic job of not forgetting it’s a Christmas film with a message to tell. It embodies films like Home Alone where it leaves you with the warm and fuzzies.
Lastly, the soundtrack had to smile the entire way through. The score is so well balanced between the time period, and the holidays it creates a great photograph of what it was like to experience Christmas in the eyes of Jake Doyle.
Watching 8-Bit Christmas is well worth your time. Packed full of comedy, and nostalgia, it’s got so much going for it. With sidesplitting premium performances from Zahn, Fegley, and NPH, you’ll absolutely want to rewatch this one. Sharing this experience with my kids was a special moment for me, as we all bonded over a truly funny, and surprisingly heartwarming story that will forever be in our Christmas movie rotation.
8-Bit Christmas is available now exclusively on HBO Max.
- Rating - 8.5/108.5/10
Watching 8-Bit Christmas is well worth your time. Packed full of comedy, and nostalgia, it’s got so much going for it. With sidesplitting premium performances from Zahn, Fegley, and NPH, you’ll absolutely want to rewatch this one. Sharing this experience with my kids was a special moment for me, as we all bonded over a truly funny, and surprisingly heart warming story that will forever be in our Christmas movie rotation.
Aaron is a contributing writer at But Why Tho, serving as a reviewer for TV and Film. He is also the co-host and social media manager of the Nerds Social Club podcast.
Hailing originally from England, and after some lengthy questing, he’s currently set up shop in Pennsylvania. He spends his days reading comics, podcasting, and being attacked by his small offspring.