8-Bit Christmas

Director: Michael Dowse
Year Released: 2021
Rating: 2.0

Sick of hearing his daughter Annie (Neil Patrick Harris) whine about wanting a phone for Christmas, Papa Doyle (Neil Patrick Harris) relays to her the story of how, as a youngster growing up outside Chicago, he desperately wanted a Nintendo Entertainment System but his parents wouldn't buy him one ("video games are bad!") so he had to try several ways of obtaining one.  While much of this is a nostalgia bomb for late Gen Xers/elder Millennials (screenwriter Kevin Jakubowski was born in 1979), its "appeal" is entirely for the kids: the "big" and "dramatic" moments, for example, involve Little Doyle (Winslow Fegley) losing his retainer in a mall, fearing he'll get beaten up for wearing girls' boots and arranging for a classmate to puke out two cans of SpaghettiOs so he can sneak into a mall and buy the NES (with money he made from selling an infamous 1989 Bill Ripkin Error Card).  The real truth is that anyone that played video games back around this time was labelled a "nerd" and/or "loser" and it was all actively discouraged - today, of course, games like Call of Duty and Fortnite are cherished by Gen Z.  It ends on an unexpectedly tear-jerking note, which I'm not sure it "earns" ... but it is true that the world would be a worse place without Steve Zahn in it.