- Movie Rating -

8-Bit Christmas (2021)

| November 24, 2021

Beyond my old standards, I guess I’ve reached the point at which I’ve stopped looking for the next big Christmas classic – that movie that will couch itself among my annual perennials like It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street and Elf and A Christmas Story and even Die Hard.  You can’t force these things.  They just have to happen.

But that doesn’t stop them from trying.  So far this season, I’ve already endured Disney Plus’ fifth – FIFTH! – sequel to Home Alone and now comes Netflix’s attempt to capture what it hopes will be the successor to A Christmas Story.  The short answer here is that, no, it doesn’t.  One just cannot replace the want of a BB gun with the want of a Nintendo Entertainment System.  The glory just isn’t there.

8-Bit Christmas is a whacky kid comedy that is so forced that one can almost see the cue cards.  Based on a book by Kevin Jakubowski, it tells the story of a nostalgic father (NPH) whose daughter wants a new cell phone.  That leads him to tell her to tale of how he managed to come in possession of his NES, which the daughter dismisses: “It looks like Tupperware.”  Naturally, this set-up leads into a series of half-track flashbacks to the Winter of 1988 when Harris and his buddies schemed to get their hands on a NES of their own.  The texture of the flashbacks is built on a whole lot of wackiness – one kid tells lies, another has weird allergies and one rich kid is in possession of an NES but only allows kids by lots. 

The problem with the flashbacks is that they have the same wacky, oversized kid-level texture of A Christmas Story without the charm or the warmth, or even the reality.  Part of the thrill of Ralphie’s journey is that we could relate to bullies, and book reports, and superstitions, and getting out mouth washed out with soap.  Here the adventures are so outside of reality that we can’t really get involved.  The kids in this movie seem to come out of a cereal commercial.

I was fairly annoyed by 8-Bit Christmas and I don’t think that has to do with age.  I was a teenager in 1988 and so I can perfectly relate to the thrill of wanting a new computer or a new video game system, but in order to perfectly capture it, there needs to be some rules, some standards, some sense of what it was like 35 years ago.  This movie doesn’t have it, or really much of anything else.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2021) View IMDB Filed in: Comedy