Review: The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

I do so very much apologize for the lateness of this post. I give my most sincere of apologies. Now, on with the show.


Greetings and welcome to the first Flick-tober! Due to the unfortunate timing of the first Bond film to be released during my blogging career right after this month, there will be half as many posts in this month as there will be in following years. Okay? Okay.

So, to kick off this month of horror/Halloweeny films, I thought I’d start out with a quaint little film that everyone knows and loves. “But wait, Critic,” you say, “Are you sure that Nightmare Before Christmas is a Halloween film? Isn’t it a Christmas film?” To which I say, shut up. No, but seriously, though, I will be examining both sides of the Halloween/Christmas film debate this year, first defending the Halloween side of things, then the Christmas side at a later date during which it is seasonally appropriate to talk about Christmas films. So…let us begin.

The Nightmare Before Christmas is a 1993 stop-motion animated film directed by Henry Selick, not Tim Burton, as is popularly believed (though Burton did conceptualize many elements of the story), and stars Chris Sanderson and Catherine O’Hara. Scored by Danny “The Elf” Elfman. (That’s not a real nickname, I just made it up. Just so we’re clear.)

So, where to begin? This film is a beloved childhood classic for many kids who grew up in the 90’s, and is a mainstay of ABC’s 25 Days of Christmas and 13 Nights of Halloween to this day. See what I mean about the Christmas/Halloween divide?

Every aspect of design, the songs, the characters, the backgrounds of the film scream “Halloween,” while the plot screams “Christmas.” It’s hard to tell, really, as the whole point of the film is Jack realizing that he’s not cut out for Christmas and rediscovering the meaning, the purpose behind Halloween. See what I mean? The entire thematic arc is about Halloween, but also Christmas. But, I do have to take a stance:


Why The Nightmare Before Christmas is a Halloween Film:


The Nightmare Before Christmas, like all of Tim Burton’s good films, has a gothic energy to it, a sheer fun darkness, filled with grime and greys, but still fun and a manic energy to everything. Burton loses it when he loses sight of that energy. See: Alice in Wonderland (2010), Planet of the Apes (2001)

The entirety of the plot revolves around Halloween doing Christmas, what Christmas would look like if it were a lot more gross and a lot less purely joyous, if you catch my drift. The parts in Christmas Town account for maybe a sixth or a seventh of the total runtime of the film, leaving the rest in this dark, gothic, Burtony place. Yes, I have the ability to turn”Burton” into an adjective.

Seriously, though, I apologize for that He-Man reference. He-Man is just…not good. It’s the worst.

See what I mean?

Anyways, back to the film. So, yeah, it’s pretty obvious that it’s a Christmas film. Just forget that I’ll completely contradict myself in like a month and a half.


The Verdict: Filled with fun characters and an intriguing world, The Nightmare Before Christmas is a stand-out in the stop motion genre, and a classic animated film. Better than I remember it, and an example of effort truly paying off, I highly recommend checking it out again. Or for the first time. You know, like if you somehow haven’t seen it already. I mean, there’s got to be at least one person who hasn’t seen it yet. Right?

I loved nearly every second of it, far more than I remembered. Though it does suffer a little from Elfman’s scoring, in that most, if not all of his scores sound the same, and the slightly clichéd “What’s Christmas, Charlie Brown?” storytelling, it works, and that’s the important part. I give it an A.

a grade

It’s on Netflix, if you want to watch it. Or, at least, the American Netflix. I can’t speak for any other versions, because, for some reason, there’s a difference between versions. Plus, because I like it, they’ll probably take it off. Stupid licensing. Ugh.


Well, I hope you enjoyed my late post. I still like Corpse Bride better, though. What do you think of the film? What is your fondest childhood film? Leave your answer down in the comments section, and I’ll see you later. Peace!

10 Comments Add yours

  1. I am someone who has not yet seen this film. Why that is, I’m not sure, but there it is. However, I need to check this out!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s quite good, and the music really elevates it to a new level. Have fun watching it!
      And, next week, expect a review of either The Fly (the original) or The Blob, in compliance with your request for corny 50’s sci-fi.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Awesome! Looking forward to that.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi. I can’t seem to find a better way to contact you, but I’m wanting to let you know that I’ve just announced another blogathon for next year and would like to invite you to participate. The link is below with more details

    https://crystalkalyana.wordpress.com/2015/10/19/announcing-the-remembering-barbara-stanwyck-blogathon/

    Like

    1. Here’s an e-mail address for future contact:
      thatothercritic@gmail.com
      (It’s on my “About” page)
      I don’t know about participating in this particular blogathon…I can’t say (without lying) that I was aware of Barbara Stanwyck in any capacity, and I feel like it’s not really my area of film. But thanks for the offer, anyways.

      Like

  3. Jay says:

    We saw it as our last out door pop up cinema (not for the first time of course).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sounds pretty awesome!

      Like

  4. soneawrites says:

    As a new follower I have to say I really like these movie reviews and the charm you bring to them. 😊

    As for the movie, it would get an A from me too. It looks great as I enjoy stop motion animation and the music is so fitting with the whole idea of the story.
    “Kidnap the Sandy claws beat him with a stick. Lock him up for fifty years, see what makes him tick”!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks a lot!
      I’m such a fan of stop motion, it has a kitschy charm to it, and it’s certainly my favorite form of animation.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. soneawrites says:

        You might like another of my favourite stop motion animation called Mary and Max (2009) by Adam Elliot if you have not seen it that is. It’s a charming story.

        Liked by 1 person

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