Review by Tres
October has arrived. With October you get scares, fears, costumes, tricks, treats, and … Christmas?
Well at least in my house you do.
On Oct 29, 1993, I was sitting in a theatre in Terre Haute, Indiana as a senior in college ready for the opening night of Tim Burton’s newest creation, a Disney release of all things, A Nightmare Before Christmas. That’s right, 20 years ago this month this classic hit the silver screen.
As a 22 year-old college student, I was surrounded by families and children as I kicked back with my fellow Cracker Barrel servers to be treated to this instant Disney classic. As most Disney movies go, the colors were amazing, the characters were awesome, almost crazy, and the songs burrowed into my mind to be stuck forever.
Now, this isn’t your typical warm and fuzzy G rated cartoon. This is an edgier PG version that can only be brought about by the visionary mind and styling of Tim Burton. It’s dark. It’s edgy. It’s a little creepy. It’s a whole lot of fun!
The movie opens with Jack Skellington, king of Halloween Town, as he ends another successful Halloween. His excitement just doesn’t shine forth, though. He is bored. During a song break, Jack wonders off deeper and deeper into the woods and stumbles upon magic trees. No, not the kind that throw apples, but rather the kind that transport you into different holiday worlds.
What’s this? CHRISTMAS! Presents! Colored lights! Songs! Snow! Sandy Claws! Jack is so very excited and decides this is his answer to his boredom.
He hurries back and shares all his joy and excitements with all his followers of Halloween Town. They simply don’t understand. After all, they are the un-living, some headless, and some brainless.
While Jack is off learning of this Christmas, we are introduced to Sally. She is a living rag-doll kept prisoner by the evil scientist so that she can wait on him and take care of him. She wants nothing more than to escape and be free. She has a love and adoration for Jack that leads her to protect him from his ill-fated plans.
In his overzealous nature of sharing Christmas and trying to appease his people, Jack decides he will take over Christmas and his plans quickly turn from jolly and cheery to Christmas with a Halloween theme. How does he get to take over Santa’s job? Well, naturally, he has Sandy Claws kidnapped. To us, that’s unthinkable, but why would a bad act be considered bad in Halloween town? A prank is quite simply natural there. Only Sally finds this act disheartening.
Like any good movie, we have an evil villain as well, Oogey Boogey. Oogey is a gambling addict that desires to make a major bet that involves killing Santa. Feeling pulled to help save Santa, the poeple of the world, and Jack, Sally sets out to foil Jack’s plans and Save Santa from Oogey.
What follows is a group of Christmas presents to not be forgotten, an over reacting world, and an overzealous military. It is deemed that the fake Santa has to be stopped and he is seen being shot out of the sky; coffin sleigh, ghost dog, bone reindeer, and all. The sudden explosion brings Jack back to reality and focused on who he is, what his people do, and what he has done to poor Santa. He quickly returns to Halloween Town to save Santa from Oogey and becomes the hero once more.
Once Santa is saved, there is a well-deserved scolding from Santa. Jack received this graciously and a peace offering gift is given to the people of Halloween town from old St. Nick himself to show he forgives them.
Overall, this is a great movie. I have seen it multiple times every year over the past 20 years. I have enjoyed introducing my children to the movie and watching them, as well as newer generations of my students at school, find Jack and wear merobilia of he and Sally. It’s the carrying of the movie from generation to the next that shows there is something special about this movie.
I see the overall message of the movie as one that shows the human nature of Christians, young and old. We, as people, become passionate about something, we delve into it, and often times we let it rule our thoughts and our lives. Before we know it, we start doing things that seem ok at the time until we get snapped back into reality and we see that our decisions were actually wrong.
Let’s step aside and Look at King David in 2 Samuel chapter 11. David was a king of kings. A father in the linage of Jesus Christ. A shining star in the history of Israel. He lead the people as followers of God. However, he became passionate about Bathsheba. He followed those passions and went down a wrong path. He didn’t see anything wrong with those choices, he was king after all and had every right… didn’t he?
Then enters Nathan in chapter 12. Nathan, as a friend and loved one came to David and shared a parable/story that opened David’s eyes. David was snapped back into reality and put himself back on course.
How often have we done the exact same thing as these characters? Not necessarily by taking another man’s wife, but by doing something that we desire to do simply because our mind gets set on it.
David knew God. David knew God’s law. David knew right from wrong. David wanted something new.
Back to the movie, Jack got this idea in his head due to boredom.
Look at both “guys” and their reactions. Nathan wakes David up. An explosion wakes Jack up. They each show repentance. They are sorrowful for what they have done and they seek a way to correct it.
David repents and gives us a great example of God’s forgiveness.
Jack puts his life back on the proper path but jumping up and seeking to correct his crazy plan. They get their lives back on the right path.
The movie wraps up with Sally and Jack having a romantic expression of love… in a cemetery…of all places.
If you haven’t seen this movie, it has been on the shelf for 20 years. I would bet that 99% of all people that see this movie do or will enjoy it. (My wife is in the 1%, God love her.)
In a 5 star rating, I give it a 4.5. Tim Burton is a dark director with a warped vision. Because of that, I knock it down a ½ star. (Also the reason my wife isn’t a fan of the movie.)
I had to agree with her that the shrunken head present might creep out a little younger audience. So, 1/2 a star is taken from me simply because some younger audience members or parents of them might be uneasy at some of the “Halloween themed” visions.
However, I enjoyed it so much that I purchased it on VHS tape in 94/95. Then when I bought a DVD player, I bought it on DVD. When I couldn’t get that DVD to play anymore… yep, I purchased it on DVD… AGAIN.
Jack! Jaaack! JAAAACCCKKKKK !!! Is one of my all-time favorites.
(Don’t tell my wife… But I’m thinking about seeking it out on Blu-ray now.)