When Bob Clark’s A Christmas Story came out in the early 80’s, it was mostly overlooked. Unless you’ve been living under a rock since then though, you’ll be aware that has since changed, and it has become one of the most highly regarded Christmas movies ever made. Unsurprisingly, there have been several middling to bad attempts at sequels since then that you have probably never heard of. Given how beloved the original has become though, it is a bit more surprising that no one else has tried to replicate the general feel of the film, until now at least.
Released on HBO Max with relatively little fanfare, 8-Bit Christmas follows a very similar plot to that of A Christmas Story. Jake Doyle (Neil Patrick Harris as an adult, Winslow Fegley as a child) reminisces about a family Christmas that takes place roughly 40 years prior to the release of the film, during which he hangs out with his friends and tries to obtain a hot toy for himself, swapping out the original Nintendo Entertainment System for a Red Ryder BB-gun. There’s also a bully for him to overcome, though this time he is made to be comically overaged, a father who uses G-rated replacements for profanity, and a mildly annoying younger sibling, among other similarities.
If this sounds like it’s a carbon copy of the older movie, it does come pretty close to being one, but contains just enough differences to still feel worthwhile. For one it is far more focused on the kids than the parents and contains a somewhat more modern (and occasionally gross) sense of humor. It’s also considerably more explicit about its well-earned but saccharine message. All-in-all it’s an entertaining pastiche of the things that made A Christmas Story work so well, that’s well acted, frequently funny, and very likely to trigger a pleasant feeling of nostalgia in anyone who grew up in the 1980s. I don’t know if it’s likely to ever be looked on as a classic, but I can easily see it being added to a regular Christmas movie rotation. ★★★★
Rated PG for rude humor and some mild violence, language, and suggestive references.
★★★★★ = Excellent | ★★★★ = Very Good | ★★★ = Good | ★★ = Fair | ★ = Poor