When thinking about a proper way to sum up 8-Bit Christmas, I feel like best description is that it’s how I imagine A Christmas Story would have been if John Hughes was behind the camera.
The film opens with Jake Doyle (Neil Patrick Harris) recounting, Princess Bride-style, to his young daughter, Annie, how, as a boy in late 1980s Batavia, Illinois (a Chicago suburb), he got his first Nintendo Entertainment System. Timothy Keane, the richest kid in his grade, is the only kid in town with the latest everything (including Nintendo).Pretty much day, Jake and his friends gather with the rest of their classmates (and a teacher or two) outside of Timmy’s house where he chooses ten kids to play with. Timmy eventually gets the NES Power Glove, only to find out that the product is a bit of a joke (much like him in the end).
Jake eventually gets tired of groveling to Timmy and dreams of getting his own Nintendo for Christmas. With that in mind, he approaches his overworked mom and Tim Taylor-esque dad about getting one, only to be denied because of their belief that video games are bad for your brain. With Christmas right around the pike, Jake and his friends continue to scheme for a way to get the coveted Nintendo in time.
This was so good. The parents all sucked (the video games are bad nonsense was really heavy-handed), but I guess every movie needs a villain. I loved the feuding siblings relationship of young Jake and his sister (Bellaluna Resnick). Steve Zahn, who played Jake’s father, also turned in a notable performance. His character definitely evolves, from being quite one-dimensional to gradually coming into focus by the end.
The soundtrack, with music from Darlene Love, Black Sabbath, Steely Dan, and The Ronettes, was well-rounded with both Christmas songs and some classic metal to round things out. While most of the film comes off as cute holiday comedic fare, the emotional ending really tugged at the heartstrings. In 8-Bit Christmas, a new holiday classic has been born.
I give 8-Bit Christmas four out of five stars.