Film Review – 8-Bit Christmas (2021)

Title – 8-Bit Christmas (2021)

Director – Michael Dowse (Goon)

Cast – Neil Patrick Harris, Steve Zahn, Winslow Fegley, June Diane Raphael

Plot – Recounting a story to his young daughter, Jake Doyle (Harris) reflects back on a time when one Christmas nothing but a new Nintendo would do when it came to present time. 

“Would I go to jail? Or worse, would I ever play Nintendo again?”

Review by Eddie on 02/06/2022

Hitting HBO Max late in 2021, family yule-tide themed movie 8-Bit Christmas arrived with very little fanfare or expectation but Michael Dowse’s fun, heartfelt and even surprisingly nostalgic-tinged trip back to the late 80’s ended up becoming one of the years most surprisingly enjoyable efforts, one that is sure to become a family Xmas favourite in the years to come. 

Experienced in the comedic landscape thanks to films such as Goon, What If and Stuber, Dowse knows his way around a good joke but importantly for the film and the audience, Dowse has managed to neatly combine some fairly hearty laughs within his newest effort in amongst some solid feel-good moments and even emotional ones, ones that the very best Christmas movies manage to juggle to stand out from the pack. 

Told in both the modern day through Neil Patrick Harris’s Jake Doyle, with the main focus on the time in Jake’s younger years (here played by the solid Winslow Fegley) where Nintendo was king and Christmas time was all about him managing to get his hands on a newly released Nintendo console and its here that Dowse manages to craft a pretty out there narrative featuring doll dealing shady characters played by a scene-stealing David Cross, falling TV accidents and snow top climbing bullies, giving 8-Bit the feel of a comedic movie of yesteryear that balances well the new with the old. 

The film could’ve easily been lost in yet another trip down memory lane but while it at times feels like a modern retreading of cult favourite Nintendo themed outing The Wizard (including Power Glove themed moments!), 8-Bit has enough originality, personality and charm to make it stand by itself, including an end game that won’t be entirely predictable for those that feel as though they know exactly where Dowse’s film is heading. 

While at days end 8-Bit doesn’t do anything extraordinary or groundbreaking, there’s a gentle and subtle goodness too much of the film, making it easily one of the family films of 2021 and a finely attuned trip down memory lane for anyone that knows their way around a video game console or a Xmas memory that has defined who they are today. 

Final Say – 

With no right to be as enjoyable as it is, 8-Bit Christmas is a genuinely enjoyable and likeable family themed ride that stands out head and shoulders above most other festive themed movies from the last few years. 

3 1/2 Cabbage Patch Dolls out of 5  

4 responses to “Film Review – 8-Bit Christmas (2021)

    • If you like both those things I think this is going to be a real winner! A film that is way more fun and inventive than you’d expect, plus some good heart too boot.

    • Nothing like Xmas in the middle of the year mate ha! Hope more people catch this one, don’t know many that have seen it.

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