The Two Gay Geeks and our staff are in the Holiday Spirit, once again. We have so much holiday cheer to spread around and so many holiday movies to share with you. We are starting this season off with The Nightmare Before Christmas. Gini will regale us with her thoughts on this film.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
The Nightmare Before Christmas is a stop-motion animated Disney movie conceived by Tim Burton. I like Burton’s oeuvre but, for me, this is his best movie, even though he didn’t write or direct it. So maybe it’s his best idea. And what an idea it is.
Jack Skellington (voiced by Chris Sarandon when speaking and Danny Elfman when singing), the Pumpkin King rules Halloween Town. He’s a loving ruler with loving subjects. They aren’t evil or mean in Halloween Town – it’s just their job to scare you, because being scared can be fun.
But Jack’s bored and feels empty after his latest successful Halloween, so he goes for a long, despondent walk, and finds the Wood Between the Worlds, where the trees are in a circle and each one has a door to a holiday. Jack spots the door that looks like a Christmas tree, and falls into Christmas Town, where they’re busy prepping for their big day.
There he discovers all the joy he’s been missing, and he tries to bring Christmas to Halloween Town, with limited results until he allows Halloween Town’s residents to sort of turn it into a Halloween version of Christmas. It’s then that Jack decides that what he needs to do is take over Christmas and, you know, give Santa Clause a break. So he has Lock, Shock, and Barrel (Paul Reubens, Catherine O’Hara, and Danny Elfman) go kidnap Santa.
Meanwhile Sally the ragdoll girl (also Catherine O’Hara) is having premonitions about Jack’s Christmas plan, while also being in love with him from afar. She tries to stop Jack’s madcap scheme, but is thwarted at every turn.
Lock, Shock, and Barrel take Santa to their boss, Oogie Boogie (Ken Page) who’s the only truly scary character in Halloween Town and the movie itself. Sally tries to rescue Santa but Oogie also captures her. Jack makes a mess of Christmas but manages to save the day along with Sally and Santa, and realizes that he he’s the best at Halloween and Santa is the best at Christmas, while also realizing that Sally’s in love with him and he with her.
Danny Elfman did the songs and the score, and both are some of his best. The cast voices the characters perfectly, and the animation is odd and beautiful. This is a movie to watch both at Halloween and at Christmas, and there aren’t many movies you can say that about. This movie rightfully became a classic its first week of release and it hasn’t slowed down in 25 years. It’s timeless and wonderful, great for adults and children of all ages.
For those concerned that your child may be too young – while everyone’s mileage may vary, this is a very sweet and gentle movie. The Lion King had come out right before this, and the chicklet (who was three at the time) was so terrified that, though we tried three times, she never made it through that movie until she was older and it was playing on our VCR. But for Nightmare, which come out only a few months later, she was on the edge of her seat, enthralled the entire time, never scared once. So, go for it – your child is likely to be enthralled as well.
A note about your DVD/Blu-ray choices. Right now, this movie is going for, easily, $25 or more, depending on the version (25th anniversary, etc.). And then there’s the Sing-Along version that’s going for a mere $10. Because this is one of the chicklet’s favorite movies, when she moved out, she took our family’s copy with her. So we were without Nightmare, meaning I needed to get a new one. I went with the sing-along version with some trepidation – would it, literally, only be something I was forced to sing along to? I mean, I’m willing to sing all the songs (just ask the hubs) but the bouncing ball that’s so prevalent on any and all Disney Sing-Along videos doesn’t really enhance your movie viewing pleasure.[Editor: Nightmare Before Christmas is available on the streaming Disney+ service.]
Rest assured, though, that the answer is no. You can choose the sing-along version OR the theatrical release version. So, if you don’t own this movie – and, really, if you don’t, what’s wrong with you? – then I heartily recommend getting the cheaper sing-along version. It’ll make a great stocking stuffer for holiday-loving goblins and elves of all ages.