Like clockwork, every holiday season sees one undeniably popular gift item become the most coveted item that children want and parents fear. For ‘80s kids, one such holy grail was the Nintendo Entertainment System: the dawn of the video game console’s hold on the holidays. Now, just in time for this holiday, 8-Bit Christmas is going to have Neil Patrick Harris narrating what looks like a new spin on A Christmas Story. Except you could probably substitute a Red Ryder Carbine Action BB gun for its video game equivalent, the ever popular Zapper.
Through what looks to be an extended flashback told by Neil Patrick Harris’ character, Jake Doyle, 8-Bit Christmas focuses on 10-year-old Jake (Nightbooks’ Winslow Fegley) and his quest for the hallowed NES. However, this HBO Max original has a very familiar pitfall, as Jake’s parents (Grace and Frankie’s June Diane Raphael and The White Lotus’ Steve Zahn) forbid the digital box from even entering their home. Of course, that’s not going to stop Jake and his friends from hatching some top-secret schemes to get it for themselves; which is where the real fun should really begin.
Based on author Kevin Jakubowski’s book of the same name, 8-Bit Christmas looks like a holiday romp that’s in the same vein as Bob Clark’s 1983 classic. Though instead of Ovaltine ads and references to other titles in the HBO Max library like The Wizard of Oz, Jake Doyle and his friends will be enamored with The Karate Kid, expeditions to the local mall, and of course, all things Nintendo. And yes, that includes the infamous Power Glove...or something that looks extremely close to that movie friendly peripheral.
8-Bit Christmas absolutely owes a debt to A Christmas Story, and both Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema seemingly understand that. Dubbing the film as “the next great Christmas story” may not be subtle, but it’s a respectful signal that acknowledges how much that time honored classic laid the groundwork for 8-Bit Christmas. Not to mention, another in-house holiday classic is mentioned in the marketing, as New Line Cinema’s Elf gets a hat tip as well.
Much like Disney+’s Home Sweet Home Alone, another holiday classic is about to be reinvented for a new generation to discover. However, unlike that legacyquel, 8-Bit Christmas is merely nodding to its predecessor, rather than existing in the same world. Though that could change slightly, as a surprise cameo or two from one of the surviving members of A Christmas Story’s cast could always crop up. And if 8-Bit Christmas is this sweet on its inspirational predecessor, it’d be foolish to rule that possibility out before seeing the finished product. Until then, let’s just soak in all the ‘80s goodness of the trailer, and the absolutely retro poster that was also released:
Get ready to plug into 8-Bit Christmas, as the film will stream exclusively on HBO Max, on Thanksgiving Eve, November 24th. If you want to get a jump on planning out the movies you’re looking to watch during the Thanksgiving holiday, in-between appropriately themed episodes of Friends, we’ve got just what you need. No need to insert a coin or blow on a cartridge, just head over to the 2021 release schedule, and you’ll be able to seek out the next level of entertainment at the movies.
CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.
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