Review by Dan Skip Allen
It's that time of year when all the studios are releasing their holiday movies. Warner Bros. has tapped 8-Bit Christmas as their entry into the Christmas film genre. Some of them are just throw-away films that don't have much meaning to them, while others have a deeper meaning that can transcend the genre. 8-Bit Christmas is one of the latter.
This film picks up in the outskirts of Chicago. Neil Patrick Harris plays a father who has to tell a story to his daughter about Christmas. She needs a lesson about why she should get a cell phone. This is a framing device of the main story. The main story takes place in 1988 and depicts a younger version of Harris's character (Winslow Fegley). He wants a Nintendo video game system for Christmas.
Christmas movies of the past, such as It's a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, and Elf, have touched audiences worldwide. They hit on something most movies can't: the spirit of the holidays and what that means for millions of people. 8-Bit Christmas captures that spirit like those legendary films from the past. The period aspect of the film was quite nostalgic for me as a child of the 80s while the framing device showed a fatherly moment with his daughter. Both elements worked very well together
This film dealt with kids a lot from the past to the present. It had a feeling of The Sandlot in regards to the various types of kids you would see in a group. The smart kid, the geeky kid, the rich kid, and every type of kid in between, including the school bully, which every film like this needs. The parental figures in the film are very entertaining as well. Steve Zahn and June Diane are typical parents in the '80s: a little overbearing, but very loving and supportive of their son and daughter. Harris is very good as well in his role.
This film is a period piece that reflects on the 1980s. It deals with so much from that period such as references to the Chicago Bears, Super Bowl champs from a couple of years before, Cabbage Patch Kids, a popular doll that every little girl wanted at that time, and the focus of this film Nintendo. My brother was great at Nintendo. He beat games very fast. Mike Tyson's Punch-Out and Super Mario Brothers were favorites of mine growing up in that era. I can relate to the need and love of that gaming system.
8-Bit Christmas has so much going for it, even beyond the time of year it's being released in. The family aspects are very sweet. The camaraderie amongst the youths is a lot of fun in the film. The nostalgic bits bring back so many memories for me. The performances were all terrific as well. I think a lot of people are going to relate to this film like I did. Warner Bros. and HBO Max have another winner on their hands.
8-Bit Christmas is now streaming on HBO Max.