Friday, November 1, 2013

The Essentials- The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

The Essentials- #29

The Nightmare Before Christmas
November is the month between Halloween and Christmas, so for me, the funniest film to watch during this month is "The Nightmare Before Christmas."

"The Nightmare Before Christmas" always resonated with me because I love Halloween and I love Christmas. A movie which blended both holidays together made me incredibly giddy. What makes the movie entertaining is how much the movie embraces the themes and ideas of both holidays. I wouldn't say that either holiday is better represented than the other. The movie is clever in how it plays with the conventions of these holidays. In a unique way, the film is also very funny and delightful to watch. The secret weapon within the movie is that it also appeals to children.

When I was younger, I remember being slightly disturbed by "The Nightmare Before Christmas," particularly the last 15 or so minutes of the movie. The idea of getting some kind of monstrous toy for Christmas certainly freaked me out.  While I found that freaky at a young age, I thought the movie was good to portray such nightmarish imagery in a kid's movie and never shying away from it. Today, as studios make movies for children, they not only forget the rest of the audience, but they forget just what children can handle and what they can't. "The Nightmare Before Christmas" make good use of children story threads and scary imagery.

One of the best moments of the film is right at the beginning. There is a voice-over which gives us a very interesting description of what we are about to see and then we mosey right into Halloween Town...the city in charge of bringing the classic holiday to homes everywhere. The song "This is Halloween" is sung by all of the Halloween Town folk as we get to know each of them. At the end of the song number, we meet "The Pumpkin King" AKA Jack Skellington (voiced by Chris Sarandon) who organizes the Halloween holiday. I loved the forest we see at the beginning of the film, which has the different doorways to all the different holiday dreamworlds. I am completely surprised Disney never tried to create a series of all the holiday dreamworlds, because I think it would have been a lot of fun. I also loved how awesome it was when we enter Halloween Town, its a very effective scene. As we march down in the dark, while the ghosts begin to sing...chills of glee!

Jack Skellington has gotten tired of programming the same routine each year, so he wonders magically to Christmas Town. Skellington is so smitten over what he sees in Christmas Town that he wants to adapt it into Halloween Town. Skellington calls a town meeting to blend Christmas with Halloween, and let's just say it goes less than well. However the citizens of Halloween Town are willing to try, while other plan to sabotage the idea. The clever writing is what makes this movie so good. As well as the very good voice acting. The film is a great reminder that you don't need recognizable A-List star voices in order for an animated film to work. Another thing I love about the film is how well it utilizes claymation. The claymation in this film is perfect, plain and simple. It seems that only Tim Burton has mastered it at this point. 

Bottom Line: There are plenty of reasons for both adults and children to check this out, so do it!

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