Starring: Neil Patrick Harris, Steve Zahn, June Diane Raphael, Winslow Fegley, and David Cross.
Directed By; Michael Dows
Where I Watched it: HBO MAX
English Audio Description Available?: Yes
The Plot: In present day, a father (Harris) deals with his daughter requesting a cell phone for Christmas by recounting when he was eleven and really wanted a Nintendo for Christmas.
What Works: Look, I know this film isn’t reinventing the wheel here. The storytelling aspect that helped make The princess Bride such a hit, as it cut back and forth between the banter from Peter Falk and Fred Savage, and the story being told. I know, it’s a formula that works. And, this film also owes a lot to A Christmas Story as well.
That being said, there hasn’t really been a film quite like A Christmas Story, since…well…A Christmas Story. And harkening back to the days when a red rider BB gun was a hot toy doesn’t quite hit the nostalgia button for a generation now growing up and looking to share a movie that represents what their childhood looked like.
As much as I love A Christmas Story, and recognize that it is and will forever be a classic, 8 Bit Christmas actually makes a bid to become one of the new holiday classics. i don’t normally say that about any of the myriad of straight to streaming/Hallmark/Lifetime Christmas films that are released upon us every year in such a dramatic fashion that it now starts before Halloween.
But 8 Bit Christmas is different than all of those prior entries, even the pretty good ones like jingle Jangle and The Christmas Chronicles. What this one manages to do is capture the perfect amount of nostalgia, blended with the right cast, and a charming script that never disappoints.
8 Bit Christmas isn’t just a great Christmas film, it’s actually one of the best films of the year. Taking away what Trey Parker and Matt Stone might refer to as member berries, this film still has all the right moments. It’s still a film that attempts to teach a moral lesson, yet remains actually somewhat unpredictable, featuring a family that could very well be your family, a group of friends that might remind you of your own childhood companions, a bully we can all sadly recognize, and an ending that is both touching and emotional.
I really didn’t expect to love this film as much as I did, but people kept recommending it to me, and I just finally had to see what it was about. Yes, after Christmas, but I have a feeling this will not be my only viewing.
What Doesn’t Work: Perhaps, the story shouldn’t make one of the surprise heroes of the movie a sketchy man with a van? Stranger danger much? I mean, it works out here, but… in real life? That’s maybe not the message kids should get, that sometimes strange men with vans that you’ve never met before are nice individuals even when your parents are not around.
The film has an opportunity, as that scene is told in the past, for Harris as a narrator to remind his present day child not to approach men with strange vans, but he doesn’t.That’s really the only misstep I could really nitpick.
The Blind Perspective: This film has solid audio description, and I got an added kick out of hearing the narrator say ‘poop”. I always feel like they try and use the most technical terms, so I was expecting to hear “waste” or “fecees” or even ‘excrement”, but this guy went with poop. That’s just the kind of film this is.
Final Thoughts: Like I said, one of the best films of last year, and it might even end up in my top 10. Still catching up on movies, but I’d put it there right now. Delightful, and I’m really glad I saw this. Instead of someone attempting to remake and update A Christmas Story for a new generation, they just figured out how to adapt that formula for our current grouping of parents and kids. I was surprisingly moved by this film, especially the ending.
Final Grade: A