Friday, December 10, 2021

Movie Review: ‘8-bit Christmas’ reminds you what season is all about

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: PG

Runtime: 1 hour, 37 minutes

It’s Christmastime in the late 1980s and there is just one gift on every kid’s mind ... Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). It was so awesome it wasn’t just a console; it was an entire system.

Jake takes his daughter Annie to visit her grandparents for the Christmas holiday. They arrive early and no one is home. Annie is bored and Jake seizes this opportunity to tell her how he got his Nintendo, which Annie says looks like Tupperware.

Like Jake, I didn’t have an NES growing up and it was something really special when I got to go to a friend’s house who had one.

Before Jake begins his story, he tells Annie it’s probably the most amazing, dangerous story of all time. Given what followed I don’t know about all time, but it certainly was a very good story that is filled with thrills, spills and chills.

This fun, family-friendly movie stars Neil Patrick Harris, Winslow Fegley, Steve Zahn, June Diane Raphael, Bellauna Resnick, Sophia Reid-Gantzert, Che Tafari, Santino Barnard, Max Malas, Chandler Dean and David Cross.

Annie (Reid-Gantzert) isn’t overly impressed when her dad, Jake (Harris) tells her he wanted a Nintendo even more than she wants a phone. She tells him that’s not possible. They begin to play, and you see some classic Nintendo setup techniques like blowing in the bottom of the cartridge to make it work.

It’s the late 1980s and the only kid in Batavia, Illinois with a Nintendo was anger-driven Timmy Keane (Dean). On Saturday mornings he would allow 10 kids into his home where they could be able to play this glorious machine, if Timmy let them.

Young Jake (Fegley) knows he needs his own system and will stop at nothing to get one. Since it is Christmastime, he asks his parents (Zahn and Raphael) who are a “no-go on the ‘Tendo.”

Young Jake enters a wreath selling contest through the Ranger Scouts where a flyer shows that first prize is a Nintendo. He does everything he can to make sure his list has the most wreath sales on it.

Every kid in town is working very hard to be the top wreath seller. Despite their efforts, something happens to alter the results.

Other plans are made between Young Jake and his friends. Do they work? We already know Jake eventually gets a Nintendo, but how did he get it?

Young Jake is very focused on this goal but is reminded what the season is all about by a scalper (Cross).

I think this is the perfect definition of a family Christmas movie. Adults might get nostalgic for this video game system they had when they were kids. And kids can learn what video games used to be like.

This is a very funny movie that, in all honesty, made me realize my age. At one point Jake is telling Annie something happened at a roller rink and Annie has no idea what that is. Why would she?

There is a sweet ending that will warm any Grinch’s heart and is wi – I should stop. Trust me, this is a good one.

Two NES controllers up!

Available on HBO Max. <

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