8-Bit Christmas is a brand new Christmas movie streaming now on HBO Max. This film tells the story of the year Jake Doyle plotted to get a Nintendo for Christmas. This nostalgia-packed film is rated PG but is it OK for young children? I'm sharing my thoughts on the PG rating, the language used, and so much more in my no-spoilers, parent review.
Disclaimer: I was given access to 8-Bit Christmas for review purposes. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
8-Bit Christmas | A No-Spoilers, Parent Review
8-Bit Christmas | Movie Synopsis
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.
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8-Bit Christmas | Parent Review
8-Bit Christmas feels like a warm hug. This film is packed with nostalgia from the beginning of the film all the way through the end.
The long story short of it is that present-day Jake Doyle's daughter wants a phone and in an effort to connect, he tells her about the year all he wanted for Christmas was a Nintendo, almost the entire movie is a flashback to a young Jake Doyle with an occasional voice over from present-day Jake.
The movie follows a very familiar formula of a kid wanting a toy (or a game system) and plotting with his friends to make it happen - by any means necessary.
While it pains me to know that a movie taking place in the 80's is like a period piece now, 8-Bit Christmas does an absolutely outstanding job with props and references and the script honestly just feels like an 80's movie.
The concept is simple and not very unique, yet it works and it works extremely well.
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8-Bit Christmas is rated PG for "rude humor and some mild violence, language and suggestive references".
After viewing this film I'd say the reasons for the rating are spot on.
There is a surprising amount of language used (but hey, that's the 80's right?) and there's some gross-out humor regarding a boy using his ability to make himself vomit as a distraction.
In terms of "mild violence" there's a bully and a threat of him beating up our main character and his group of friends.
There is also an animal injury that could be jarring for younger eyes, I'll admit the injury is pretty brutal even in its implied nature - no animal is actually shown being hurt but you get the idea pretty clearly.
This film takes place in the 80's and the script shows it. Language could certainly be an issue here when viewing this film with younger children.
Terms I heard include: damn, crap, stupid, idiot, psychopath, jerk, and dumb.
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8-Bit Christmas is packed with nostalgia and it unexpectedly tugs on the heartstrings! Seriously, I did not expect to cry actual tears when viewing this film but there I was, crying into my hot chocolate.
As huge fan of that other Christmas movie that centers on a flashback, retelling of a boy who really wanted one specific gift, I had high hopes for 8-Bit Christmas and I will say every single one of them was met and surpassed.
Neil Patrick Harris makes for a great storyteller and his narration is perhaps even a bit underused.
I like the "How I Met Your Mother"-style of storytelling here as there were times when present-day Jake had to alter the story as his daughter asked questions. In one scene she interjects by asking, "were you wearing a helmet?" to which a helmet was instantly added on top of young Jake's head and he responds, "of course".
8-Bit Christmas is a Christmas Story meets The Sandlot; featuring a close knit group of friends plotting for the ultimate get; a Nintendo. I also really appreciated the brother-sister dynamic as Jake helps to make sure his younger sister gets her Christmas wish, a Cabbage Patch Kid, of course.
I believe casting was key for this film and Steve Zahn deserves an award for his portal of John Doyle, Jake's father. Zahn plays the role of the quintessential 80's dad perfectly.
8-Bit Christmas is an instant classic and easily fits into the yearly Christmas movie rewatch rotation.
8-Bit Christmas age recommendation: 8+
This film may be rated PG but let's face it, it wasn't really made for kids, it was made their parents. Adults will appreciate the callbacks to their childhood and the 80's-style jokes.
Watch 8-Bit Christmas exclusively on HBO Max today!