Review: 8-Bit Christmas


Warner Bros./New Line Cinema

Winslow Fegley and co stars on their way to pull off their master plan in “8-Bit Christmas.

Kierstein Scherer, Correspondant

“8 Bit Christmas” came to HBO Max on Nov. 24 and looks to be the hot holiday release of the year. 

Neil Patrick Harris and Winslow Fegley star as older and younger versions of the same character, Jack Doyle. “8-Bit Christmas” is arranged in a flashback style, as Harris narrates the adventures his past self embarks upon while trying to get his hands on a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). 

This movie was really fun to watch. The characters are endearing, and the story is lighthearted and witty.

The film is heavy in ‘80s nostalgia, including cabbage patch dolls and king of the hill, while also featuring clever jabs at the decade, such as showing a teacher describe both the dewey decimal system and cursive as “life skills.” 

The introductions of characters, while quick, serve their purpose in an entertaining fashion. In a superlative style, the main group of characters are introduced with a yearbook photo and a quick description highlighting the most important part of their character as relevant to the plot. I thoroughly enjoyed this introduction, and it paid off later when seemingly arbitrary details served a larger purpose in the story. 

One aspect of the film I was rather worried about in the beginning was the narration. I was afraid it might come off as cheesy and make the movie feel like a bad Netflix original. However, I ended up being pleasantly surprised. Rather than taking away from the flow of the story set in the past, the narration blended seamlessly; as the story went on, interludes from the present became less and less frequent. 

The plot itself was entertaining, and seems to take inspiration from “Christmas Story” directed by Bob Clark, since the main focus is getting their hands on the must-have Christmas item, in this case, a Nintendo Entertainment System. It is enjoyable watching the elaborate struggle these characters go through, and I felt an emotional investment even if it was just a game console. 

The one bone I have to pick with this movie was the ending. The entire movie is focused on obtaining a NES, however the ending diverts completely away from this goal, and instead, it hands the audience a half-baked “inspirational” meaning. I am fully aware of the fact that since it is a Christmas movie, it is likely to have an ending that fits in with the ‘meaning of Christmas.’ However, it is still reasonable to expect a Christmas movie to at least make an attempt at weaving the ending theme or message throughout the movie, rather than just throwing it in at the last second.

Although I disliked the thrown together ending, I would still recommend this film, if solely for the fact that I just genuinely enjoyed watching it. In my opinion, a movie doesn’t always have to be profound to be worth watching. For a feel-good Christmas movie, “8-Bit Christmas” works perfectly.