Neil Patrick Harris likes talking, so it seems, after running us through many, many seasons of how he met a woman, here, as Jake Doyle, he tells his daughter Annie, Sophia Reid-Gantzert (“The Baby-Sitters Club (TV)”, “Scaredy Cats (TV)”), the story of how he got an 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System.
Jake and his daughter arrive at his parents John, Steve Zahn (“The White Lotus (TV)”, “Cowboys”), and Kathy’s, June Diane Raphael (“Black Monday (TV)”, “American Dad! (TV)”), and instantly Annie is bored, all she really wants is her own mobile phone, rather than her friends having to text and phone Jakes.
Jake takes her into his old bedroom and shows her the Nintendo, “looks like Tupperware” says Annie. When Jake says he wanted it more than she wants a mobile phone, impossible she says, he tells the story.
We go back to the late eighties and see a younger Jake, Winslow Fegley (“Nightbooks”, “Come Play”), with his friends: Mikey Trotter, Che Tafari (“Rel (TV)”, “The Good Place (TV)”), Evan Olsen, Santino Barnard (“Bing (TV)”, “Penny Dreadful: City of Angels (TV)”), Tammy Hodges, Brielle Rankins and her twin brother Teddy Hodges, Braelyn Rankins (“Doom Patrol (TV)”, “Delilah (TV)”).
There’s also Jeff Farmer, Max Malas (“Teenage Euthanasia (TV)”, “Little Voice (TV)”), who Jake says wasn’t really their friend, but a pathological liar who always turned up and hung around with them.
The only chance they get to play a Nintendo is to go to the rich kids house Timmy Keane, Chandler Dean (“Shameless (TV)”, “Piano Lessons (Short)”), each Saturday and be one of the ten kids he picks to go to the basement playroom, though it’s mostly watching Timmy play.
Jake’s parents don’t want him to have a games console, they rot your brain, and stuff like that. And when Timmy knocks his TV onto the dog, his father takes it upon himself to get the console banned across the state.
This message hasn’t got to Jake and his friends though as they begin trying to win one. First prize in their Cubs, whoever sells the most Christmas Wreaths, wins a Nintendo, though when Jake wins and doesn’t get what he expects, plan b is created.
Plan b involves them selling baseball cards to get enough cash for the console, then hijacking a school trip to buy it. This does involve standing up to the bully Josh Jagorski, Cyrus Arnold (“Run Hide Fight”, “Runt”), when he steals the money.
However, whilst the plan works, sadly the outcome is a disaster. Will Jake ever get his 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System? Will Annie get her phone, or finally be interested in the story? Will Annie get the, not so subtle, message Jake has within the story?
8-bit Christmas continues the long tradition of a story telling Christmas movie and who else but Neil Patrick Harris to tell the story, right? The movie is fun and funny with a similar vibe to 2008’s Good Boys, though without the adult rating. I also liked the fact that Annie got the message, summing it up perfectly, ‘cos kids don’t need hours to get something.
Fegley is great as the younger Jake, whilst his sister Lizzy, Bellaluna Resnick (“Alien Encounters (TV)”), as the know-it-all, is great opposition for him and all the rest of the kids get a decent look-in from writer Kevin Jakubowski (“Play by Play (TV)”, “Bizaardvark (TV)”) and director Michael Dowse (“Stuber”, “Goon”).
8-bit Christmas is one of the better Christmas movies we’ve seen so far this year, but it’s not even December yet!
24th November 2021
THE QUICK SELL
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.
CAST & CREW
Bellaluna Resnick, Braelyn Rankins, Brielle Rankins, Chandler Dean, Che Tafari, Cyrus Arnold, June Diane Raphael, Kevin Jakubowski, Max Malas, Michael Dowse, Neil Patrick Harris, Santino Barnard, Sophia Reid-Gantzert, Steve Zahn, Winslow Fegley