All the actors in a Christmas-tree shape with a Nintendo being held in the air by the person at the top, reminiscent of a star on the top.


Title: 8-Bit Christmas
Released: 2021

Fix: Nostalgia, Family-Friendly Christmas Movies, Video Game Lovers Unite, You’re Tired Of Watching A Christmas Story for the bajillionth time.
Platform: HBOMax

After the year(s) we’ve all had, I think it’s time to bring back the dopamine-inducing fun of the Holiday Series! Wherever you find yourself, it’s time to cozy up in your favorite sweater or under your softest blanket, get yourself something sweet to nibble on, and spend some time believing in the magic of the holidays.

HBOMax Summary:

In 1980s Chicago, a ten-year-old sets out on a quest to get the Christmas gift of his generation – the latest and greatest video game system.

What’s Actually Going On In Santa’s Workshop:

Some Elder Millennial script writer out there had a fever dream one night while they were deep into a playthrough of the remastered version of Halo and thought, what if I have A Christmas Story in one hand and my video game controller in the other, and then squish them together? And this movie was made!

Seriously though, just like ACS came out in the ‘80s about a ‘40s kid at Christmas willing to do anything for a Red Ryder Range 200 Shot BB gun, we have a 2021 nostalgia-fest about 1987 Midwestern Jake at Christmas willing to do anything for a Nintendo Entertainment System. He goes door-to-door selling wreaths, tries to trick his parents into saying yes, even hatches an elaborate half-assed plan with his rag-tag group of buddies to pool their money and get one together.

Naughty or Nice List:

Winslow Fegley as Young Jake Doyle

Jake wants that Nintendo to the point of obsession. The most amusing part was when he forgets his sister in his desire to play the Nintendo at the store and the sweetest moment was his last few scenes with his dad. (Winslow looked SO familiar but I checked his IMDB and I have seen him in absolutely nothing. Who does he look like??)

Verdict: Naughty, but like overall there are way worse kids than him and his one-track Nintendo obsession.

Sophia Reid-Gantzert as Annie Doyle

Hey, it’s our favorite wacky step-sister, Karen! Sophia is super adorable as Jake’s daughter Annie who’d rather text her friends from her dad’s phone than listen to him reminisce about his childhood…at least at first.

Verdict: Nice, once she stops complaining about the phone.

Neil Patrick Harris as Adult Jake Doyle

NPH, although you narrated the entire movie I was surprised that there was so little of you actually in it! Not much for him to really latch on to, but NPH is an acting veteran so you always know you’re going to get a decent role outta him. I was curious about what was left on the cutting room floor – what exactly was the sitch between him and Annie’s mom??

Verdict: Naughty, because he totally wouldn’t get his daughter a phone, OMG.

Steve Zahn as John Doyle

Steve is one of those great character actors you know from everything. He plays Jake’s eternal DIY-er dad with the right amount of crotchety, middle-aged weariness and then hits you with the dad feels when you’re least expecting it.

Verdict: Nice, although his wife probably begs to differ because he’s been working on that kitchen reno for MONTHS.

Sleigh-Sharing Capability: High

This was the perfect, low-key movie to watch with your family of all ages right after you’re stuffed with turkey and needing a lie-down. You don’t have to pay THAT much attention but there’s enough cute and nostalgia-inducing moments to pull your gaze from your phone screen.

Recommended Level of Inebriation: Festive Sparkling Juice

Calories don’t count during the holidays, so guzzle down some sickeningly-sweet sparkling juice of your choice (I’m partial to cran-apple myself) to wash down the festive snacks. If you want the real-deal because you want to celebrate no longer being ten-years-old and being unable to buy things whenever you want them, then feel free to break out the sparkling Moscato (still sweet!).

Did It Get Me In The Christmas Spirit?: It’s A Good Start!

It’s silly and cute and sometimes gave me a nice chuckle, and while at times I found myself straying to Instagram for a quick scroll, it did give off good holiday vibes. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it will become a total Christmas classic itself, but as you gear up for December festivities and realize you’re tired of the same old classics from year-after-year, I’d suggest giving this a try!

Stephanie (she/her) is an avid reader who moonlights at a college and calls Orlando home. Stephanie loves watching television, reading DIY blogs, planning awesome parties, Halloween decorating, and playing live-action escape games.