It takes a great effort to crack the top holiday movies these days; you have films like Elf, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Die Hard, and others that hold the crown for best Holiday films. 8-Bit Christmas makes a solid case to be in that group of classics. It stars Neil Patrick Harris, Winslow Fegley, June Diane Raphael, and Steve Zahn. Michael Dowse directed a script by Kevin Jakubowski, based on a book by Jakubowski. The plot description is pretty simple and is bookended by Harris’s Jake Doyle telling his daughter about a childhood adventure.

A humorous and heartfelt look back at the adventures of childhood. Set in suburban Chicago in the late 1980s, the story centers on ten-year-old Jake Doyle’s (Fegley) herculean quest to get the latest and greatest video game system for Christmas.

Remember back to when you were a kid, and it seemed like an impossible task to get that latest video game console. The kid down the street already had one, and everyone wanted to play. That’s the basic premise of 8-Bit Christmas. Along the way, it becomes less about the commercial aspect of grabbing an NES console and more about the friends and family. That’s really what a holiday movie like this should be about.

8-Bit Christmas at its heart is a solid film for the whole family; there are jokes for kids, jokes for adults, and even some music choices for heavy metal fans out there. Any movie with “Die Young” by Black Sabbath gets a solid grade from me.

More Than A Cute Holiday Movie

It’s true. 8-Bit Christmas is an adorable movie. Usually, there’s a little apprehension with a film with almost exclusively child actors, but the performances here from the kids are great. Winslow Fegley, Bellaluna Resnick, and the rest of the kids do an excellent job of portraying kids that will do anything within their power to get an NES, and in Resnick’s case, a Cabbage Patch Kid. They capture what it means to be a kid around Christmas/Holiday time and wanting that special gift more than anything. Steve Zahn and June Diane Raphael play Jake’s parents, with Zahn putting in an all-time holiday performance here. If there’s a “holiday movie dad” Hall of Fame, he goes right in with Clark Griswold, George Bailey, and John McClane.

It’s not necessarily an over-the-top performance, but it evokes every dad out there around Christmas time. There’s even an appearance by David Cross as an illegal-toy dealer. All the performances, including a hilarious one by Cyrus Arnold as the school bully, make for a hilarious time for all ages.

The special magic this movie has is that it doesn’t matter how old you are. Although sure, kids these days might not know the pain of not getting that new video game console (although getting a PS5 is still impossible), the movie captures the holiday spirit and fun.

Get The Tissues Out For The Ending Though

Is it a holiday movie if it doesn’t hit right in the feels? 8-Bit Christmas might have a fun, frolicking plot throughout, but once you hit the epilogue portion of the film, the waterworks come out. So be prepared for that. Through it all, the movie is just a joy to watch. It’s hilarious, has plenty of heart, and provides a wonderful Christmas movie for a new generation. It strikes a balance between being funny and accessible for young kids but also entertaining older people. If you’re looking for a movie to watch this Holiday season with your family, 8-Bit Christmas is a fantastic choice.

8-Bit Christmas is streaming now on HBO Max.

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