“8-Bit Christmas” is a breath of fresh air when it comes to Christmas movies. All of those Hallmark Christmas rom-coms were getting tiring, so it was nice to see a festive movie that wasn’t about romantic relationships. The story follows Jake Doyle (Neil Patrick Harris), now a father, who is being pestered by his pre-teen daughter about getting a phone for Christmas. Jake decides to tell her a story about how he got his Nintendo 8-Bit gaming system when he was a kid. In the late 80’s an eleven year old Jake (Winslow Fegley) and his friends are obsessed with the new Nintendo Entertainment System. The only kid in school who owns one is Timmy, a spoiled and mean kid who doesn’t know how to share. Frustrated with Timmy, who monopolizes his gaming system and uses it to taunt the other kids, Jake and his friends decide they need a Nintendo of their own. Thus begins their quest to obtain the popular entertainment system.
I think “8-Bit Christmas” might be the best family-friendly movie I’ve seen in a while. I thought it was a really sweet movie. It was charming, and definitely festive. There were also many funny moments, like when Jake wins the wreath selling competition and gets a collection of encyclopedias instead of the Nintendo. Another highlight was when Jake buys the Nintendo and slips on ice, immediately breaking it.
The actors, though young, did a great job too. I was thoroughly impressed by their acting. They had great chemistry and they were very convincing.
The movie also teaches a valuable lesson about the meaning of Christmas. Despite his best efforts, Jake fails to get the Nintendo for Christmas, it still ends up being a pretty great holiday. He and his family become closer, and the treehouse his dad built as a gift “turned out to be a pretty great present”, as Jake says. He got to enjoy it as a kid with his friends, and now he gets to enjoy it with his own daughter, who says it is her favorite place at her grandparents’ place. Not only that, now he has a long-lasting reminder of his dad.
The movie teaches a very important lesson about being grateful for what you have instead of focusing on what you want. After Jake loses the Nintendo, a man selling toys on the black market who had seen him slip on ice and break the gaming system, tries to console him (pun intended). He tells Jake he really wanted a donkey when he was little. He didn’t get it, but, he says,”I realized I had spent the whole Christmas season worrying about something I wanted and I stopped appreciating what I already had. (…) You only get so many Christmases, kid.” The man’s wise advice acts as a reminder of what the holiday season is all about. Appreciating life and loved ones.
I have to say I was a bit surprised by the ending. I thought it was going to end with Jake and his friends getting the Nintendo somehow. But the actual ending was even better. Jake learned a valuable lesson about being grateful, and he got an even better gift, the treehouse his dad built, where he could play and spend time with his friends and family. It was just a really sweet ending. Jake’s daughter tells him she understands the moral of the story. “I know your point dad. I’m not getting a phone but Christmas can still be great.”
If you are looking for something to watch to get in the mood for the holidays, definitely check “8-Bit Christmas” out.
“8-Bit Christmas” is available to stream on HBO Max.
By Alice Braga