The debate over whether or not “The Nightmare Before Christmas” should be classified as a Halloween film or a Christmas film will probably never cease (although the best of both worlds is simply to recognize it as both).
However, if there’s one thing that should remain largely undisputed, it’s that the beloved Disney classic, though imperfect, has stood the test of time as a Halloween staple since its 1993 debut.
“The Nightmare Before Christmas” follows the story of the fantasy world of Halloween Town and its skeleton leader, the “Pumpkin King” Jack Skellington (voiced by Chris Sarandon and Danny Elfman). After growing bored of the town’s annual and incessant planning for Halloween, Jack stumbles upon a doorway to another dimension known as Christmas Town.
Drawn to the holiday, Jack attempts to lead the town in celebrating Christmas. Nonetheless, the citizens of Halloween Town quickly prove why their qualities make them more cut out for Halloween.
“The Nightmare Before Christmas” immediately solidifies itself as a classic Tim Burton film all around. It has the creepy, gothic appeal that makes his works so distinctly Burton. Topped off with stunning stop-motion animation, it’s hard to not be instantly mesmerized by the way Burton brings his characters and their complex world to life.
At the same time, the movie retains all the charm of a Disney classic, balancing its creepiness with just enough goofiness to appeal to the company’s most wholesome viewers.
“The Nightmare Before Christmas” boasts an endearing lineup of characters, like rag doll Sally (Catherine O’Hara) and the infamous Oogie Boogie (Ken Page), but it’s Jack who ultimately steals the show from start to finish. It’s no wonder the character has become a fan-favorite among Disney lovers.
The movie’s crowning achievement, though, is its soundtrack, which is highlighted by classic numbers like “This is Halloween,” “What’s This?” and “Jack’s Lament.” “The Nightmare Before Christmas” boasts the kind of musical moments that, when coupled with the film’s stunning animation, are hard to ever forget.
The movie’s one downfall is that its storyline loses its footing toward the middle, making it feel too drawn-out at times. After a sluggish stretch, though, the movie regains its excitement once again. Ultimately, where the movie may suffer plot-wise, it compensates for its shortcomings with the above-mentioned qualities.
Perfections and imperfections aside, though, “The Nightmare Before Christmas, is a Halloween classic that isn’t slowing down in notoriety anytime soon. It should be revisited year after year because, after all, it’s hard to let spooky season go by without a little dose of Jack Skellington and the creepy, crazy citizens of Halloween Town.
Filmnetic Grade: A-