Say what you will of marketing that makes obvious allusions to holiday classics like A Christmas Story, it’s still better to crib inspiration from a classic holiday film than it is to make direct-to-video sequels to that film like A Christmas Story 2. HBO Max’s upcoming 8-Bit Christmas goes so far as to call itself “the next great Christmas Story” in its first trailer, just in case you weren’t getting the correct vibe, but it also looks like a lot of fun at the same time.
Neil Patrick Harris stars in the film as a father reminiscing about his childhood in the 1980s, and in particular the late ‘80s Christmas season when his 11-year-old self was truly desperate for one of the greatest era-defining toys of all time, an original 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System. Together with a gaggle of neighborhood weirdos, he bands together in a quest for someone, anyone the group to lay their hands on a Nintendo so all will be able to play or at least gawk at its videogame wizardry. As a fellow child of the 1980s, I must admit that this rings very true. Audiences are obviously meant to be reminded of the quest for the Red Ryder BB gun from A Christmas Story, although the film does also evoke commercialist Christmas flicks like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Jingle All the Way as well.
Harris obviously portrays the grown-up version of his character Jake, with the 11-year-old version played by Winslow Fegley. The film also stars June Diane Raphael, Steve Zahn and David Cross, and was directed by Michael Dowse of Coffee & Kareem. Its screenplay is from Kevin Jakubowski, based on his book of the same name. 8-Bit Christmas hits HBO Max to begin streaming on Nov. 24, 2021, so check out the surprisingly funny trailer below.