The Nightmare Before Christmas is a beloved classic that many people continue to watch year after year, but recently I’ve noticed something about this movie that really boils my blood. A large portion of the population completely believe this film was directed by Tim Burton, and it’s really nobody’s fault but Burton’s that this misconception exists. Tim Burton created the concept, but at the time, he just didn’t have enough time to direct the film. So the directing baton was passed over to Henry Selick (James and The Giant Peach, Coraline). It took Selick three years to complete this film and according to Selick, in the three years of production, Burton himself spent less than 10 days in total on the set of this film. Now of course, Burton produced the film and when the final product was complete, he was so thrilled with the film that he plastered his name all over this movie, creating the misconception that Tim Burton worked a lot on it and had a lot to do with the creative process. Needless to say, Selick now refuses to work with Tim Burton. Now that my little rant is complete, let’s talk about the actual movie.
The movie is 100% stop-animation, which is incredibly fascinating in itself. The art style and sets work beautifully around the world created and every character seems to fit their own niche absolutely perfectly. Does this make this a perfect movie? Not exactly.
The movie starts off with the introduction of Halloween Town and the Pumpkin King, Jack Skellington who acts as the film’s main protagonist. Jack is incredibly likable and versatile, as he shows multiple sides of a spooky Halloween creature’s emotions and inner conflict. This leads to Jack feeling unfulfilled with his Halloween duties which leads him to accidentally stumble into Christmas Town. The introduction to the holiday-based world is exciting and fun to watch.
Jack must then adapt and attempt to understand the concept of Christmas which he takes back to Halloween Town. After trying desperately to grasp the concept himself, Jack introduces Christmas to the other town folks who fail to understand a holiday that doesn’t include brains, bats and dead creatures. Jack decides he is going to take Christmas for himself and begins working away at a scheme to steal Christmas away from Santa Clause.
Every moment up until this part of the movie is entertaining and enthralling, but around this part, there seems to be a boring lull where not much happens for about 15 to 20 minutes. In this time, we see a lot of Jack’s preparations and the kidnapping of Santa Clause, but other than that, it really is a strange and boring few minutes that almost seemed like filler created to close up an empty hole in the script. At the end of this lull, we are introduced to the main villain of the film. The Oogie Boogie Man and I have to say, for a children’s film, this guy is creepy as hell.
The Oogie Boogie Man then keeps Santa Clause hostage as Jack attempts to bring Christmas to the people of Halloween Town and the world. Now at the beginning of the film, we’re also introduced to a female character named Sally (who seems to be in love with Jack) who claims that she has seen a deadly premonition regarding Jack Skellington’s Christmas. She warns him time and time again, but he seems to ignore her advice and plunge through anyways.
Jack takes off on his Christmas venture, but of course he is far too horrifying to be Santa Clause and the gifts he gives to children range from severed heads to living dolls that attack. Here’s where the movie gets pretty silly. The army is informed of the skeleton-like impostor and they shoot him down with missiles. Jack (who is somehow is still alive) comes to the realization that Christmas isn’t for him and returns back to his creepy Halloween ways.
Upon returning to Halloween Town, Jack must face off against The Oogie Boogie in an amusing final showdown between the two in order to rescue Santa Clause and win the heart of Sally. Of course after he victors, Jack apologizes to Santa and is hailed as a Halloween hero and Santa decides to bring one Christmas season to Halloween Town.
Overall, this movie is excellent despite a couple of plot holes and a somewhat boring stretch of time where not a whole lot happens. The animation and art style are the real highlights, but personally I really enjoy the music that is accompanied with this movie. The movie has several musical numbers, both glum and joyful and it somehow seems to represent two holidays at the same time. It’s quite a short movie, clocking in at about 70 minutes, but overall it’s enjoyable. My favorite thing about this movie is that the movie seems to be just dark enough to appeal to an adult audience, but just light enough to be appropriate for children.
Overall Rating: 9 /10