Director: Michael Dowse
Writer: Kevin Jakubowski
Starring: Neil Patrick Harris, Winslow Fegley, June Diane Raphael, David Cross, Steve Zahn, Sophia Reid-Gantzert, Bellaluna Resnick
Kevin Jakubowski’s novel, 8-Bit Christmas, has been adapted in a film, with a script from Jakubowski himself and directed by Michael Dowse. It’s a nostalgia fuelled adventure about family, Christmas, and most important of all, Nintendo.
Neil Patrick Harris stars as Jake Doyle, who is telling his daughter, Annie (Sophia Reid-Gantzert), the story of how he got his Nintendo Entertainment System in the late 80s. Winslow Fegley then stars in the flashbacks as the younger Jake Doyle who tries through many schemes and plans to get his hands on the elusive console.
This film is pure family entertainment. It’s funny, heartfelt and an all-round good time. It’s not spectacular, but it works. There’s a lot of humour for people of all ages, and the whole family can have a good time with it. Some of the highlights are the story changing visually as Jake is telling his daughter. Throughout the whole thing you can hear Harris narrating the story, taking questions from his daughter as he’s telling the story. There are moments where things happen like safety goggles that suddenly appear once Annie asks if he was wearing them, and Jake responds, yes of course.
Video game fans will also enjoy the references to the early Nintendo years, with appearances of old-school classic games, cartridges that work once you’ve blown into them, and the infamous power glove. It’s a nostalgia feast for Christmas, that feels just right. The sets for the late 80s look great, especially the shopping mall that Jake visits at one point with his family.
Most surprisingly is the emotional weight the finale carries. You do get attached to the characters and it is moving in its last scene. The whole cast are great, and it really clicks. It makes it a step above a lot of the forgettable Christmas films that are released every year, because you do get invested in it.
8-Bit Christmas is unlikely to become part of anyone’s Christmas traditions. It’s a perfectly fine film, that does get surprisingly moving in its final moments. It’s an enjoyable family friendly film, with Neil Patrick Harris, and that’s never a bad thing.
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