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Monday, December 12, 2011



"Are you a gambling man, Santa?"
-- Oogie Boogie

The Nightmare Before Christmas is a 1993 animated film directed by Henry Selick and produced by Tim Burton. It tells the story of when holidays collide, clashing the haunted holiday of Halloween with the joy and peace-ridden holiday of Christmas. In the ancient holiday world of Halloweentown, there lives the Jack Skellington (voiced by Chris Sarandon, sung by Danny Elfman) who has become tired of his age-old holiday. As he ventures into the wilderness, he stumbles upon the portals to the other holiday worlds and soon finds himself in Christmastown. Seeing the beauty of the land, he decides to bring some Christmas cheer back to his own town, telling the townsfolk that they are going to take over Christmas this year. They start to prepare their own creepy versions of gifts for all the boys and girls, and they even go as far as to steal the horrible "Sandy Claws" (voiced by Edward Ivory) to keep him from ruining their plans. Unfortunately, Santa is delivered to the incredibly evil Oogie Boogie (voiced by Ken Page), who hopes to make a ruckus of his own.

I was five years old when this film first hit theaters back in 1993, and my earliest memory of the movie was how terrified I was of the trailers I saw in the months leading up to its release. As a young child, the images of terrifying presents on Christmas morning scared me beyond belief. It scared me so badly that I never actually saw the film until a few years ago. And from the moment I first saw the film, I can honestly say that it's one of the most brilliant animated films I've had the pleasure to see in my lifetime.

Let's start with the screenplay. If you're looking for an original story, this one's about as original as they come. Essentially, the monsters from Halloweentown attempt to steal Christmas from the inhabitants of Christmastown in order to add their own dash of holiday cheer. In the time that they spend preparing for the Christmas holiday, the film goes through nearly every Christmas cliché you can possibly imagine and turns it on its ear. Even the film's title is a play on an age-old Christmas tradition: the story "'Twas the Night Before Christmas." At the same time, we're getting a sub-plot of a love story between Jack and a "woman" named Sally (voiced by Catherine O'Hara) as well as a continued predicament with the aforementioned villain, Oogie Boogie, who ranks as one of my all-time favorite cinematic villains. The blending of these intertwining stories puts this screenplay above and beyond your average Christmas, or even your average animated, film.

Our voice acting is also above par, and while no one's truly standing out from the rest, I think part of that has to do with the fact that each and every character's voice fits them so perfectly that there's no one who could truly stand above the rest. Obviously, the collaboration between Sarandon and Elfman to bring Jack to life is simply astounding, but we're also getting some fantastic voice work from the likes of Page and William Hickey, who voices Dr. Finklestein, who plays an integral part of the story.

I think what's truly great about The Nightmare Before Christmas, however, are some of its intangibles. For example, the stop-motion animation is top-notch, and I'd argue that stop-motion wasn't used as effectively again until 2009's Coraline, which was also a Selick/Burton collaboration. The special effects are so good in this film that the earned it an Academy Award nomination in that category (it ultimately lost to Jurassic Park). So if you're not wowed by anything else, at least appreciate the fact that you're seeing an entirely visually pleasing film.

Also, some mention needs to be made of the soundtrack, especially considering this film is a musical. There's two facets to the soundtrack that should be mentioned. First, Elfman's orchestral score is simply beautiful in its own way. Here's a snippet of the score for those of you unfamiliar:

In addition to the orchestral score, we're getting a slew of fantastic original songs to accentuate the film's story. Be on the listen for songs like "Jack's Lament," "What's This?," "Kidnap the Sandy Claws," and my personal favorite, "Oogie Boogie's Song," shown below:

Ultimately, The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of the best animated films I've ever had the pleasure to see, and it's made such a lasting impact on the cinematic landscape that it manages to be re-released every October for a limited span, and people continue to flock to the theaters to see it. It's an annual must-see for me, as I watch it at least once between Halloween and Christmas, just to get my fix. If you haven't had an opportunity to see the film, I strongly suggest you do so this holiday season. I'm almost positive you'll love it.

Movie Review Summary
Grade: A+
2 Thumbs Up


  1. I am glad you loved it and Oogie Boogie is also one of my favourite villains. This is a truly great animated film! Great review!

  2. Wonderful review! I like that it reminds me of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." I didn't see "The Nightmare Before Christmas" when it came out. I was 7, and I thought I was too old because it seemed overly friendly. I watched it as an adult - I'm 25 1|2 - and thought it was genius. I like Tim Burton's portrayal and all the good things that seep out of it! I think it is a magical holiday classic waiting for every boy and girl of all ages to see. We watched some of it at my aunt's house and in music class. I bought it myself not too long ago. I like all the different animation techniques. It's pieced together so well. It's interesting to wonder how they do it. I don't get why they had so much in the bonus features. It was hard to see what the point was watching it. I did watch it all. It's like we watched them make it. There wasn't much about Tim's vision at all. You have to get the storybook for that. I think it marks a good time in history with all the 3D looking stuff we're getting. Heck, they even sell 3D TVs. :D LOL! They even have 3D cell phones! I get what you're saying about the plot. It's basically Halloween people getting in on what Christmas is and trying it on for their own size. I'm glad you gave it an A+ as I see at the bottom, both thumbs up. I think you could really look into Tim's work and find out a lot about Hollywood and how much fun it would be to be in it. I know sometimes I wasn't interested in it, but for some reason I grew more interested and felt more like I had a calling. I was pretty successful in all that I did growing up, school and the arts and physical activity. I am trying to be a ballerina and lose weight. I know I'm pretty advanced in technique and pretty much know it all. I just take a long time to soak it in still. So, I'm trying to get better at it. I often felt this movie was made out to be racist. I don't like that because that means it doesn't matter who you are it just matters what race you are and you get hate and get to be poked at for your faults. I felt that when I was young, too, and my mom is Chinese Indonesian. So, I wasn't brought up like most people, loud and prissy. So, I couldn't pull off that personality in school. I was a good student, too, so I felt I deserved a lot for being so good. Still, sometimes I was in a little attitude or whatnot trouble. It's nice to see the work of Tim Burton, Johnny Depp, etc..., and connect it all together like one big world. It also gives you something to post about, when you hone in on certain people. I like Helena Bonham Carter, too, a lot. I just stopped renting movies. I hope to watch her one day in something else, but I don't know how much I feel like even watching what I said I had. I think this is a good movie to represent feelings people have. I wonder what age group watched this movie. I didn't even go to the movies when I was 5. I did at 6 I know. Who knows, though. Well, it was nice reading your review and I hope to analyze another of your movie analysis's again. :D