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flick pick | Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas 1993
Directed by: Henry Selick
Written by: Tim Burton, Michael McDowell, Caroline Thompson
Starring: Chris Sarandon, Danny Elfman, Catherine O’Hara
Language: English
Look for it at the video store under:
Watch it when you’re in the mood for something: whimsical
The critic says: / 5 the rating system explained
Fun factor: /5

Plot synopsis In Halloweentown, where the village’s creepy-crawly-scary-ghoulish residents spend 355 days a year devising ways to make October 31st the scariest day of all, bony Jack Skellington is the unofficial king of all things dark and frightening. He’s awfully good at what he does – namely, scaring the hell out of people. Still, Jack’s been feeling a little glum lately about his life’s calling: surely, he thinks, there must be some more fulfilling way to spend his days than cooking up schemes to make folks scream in terror. On a long walk in the woods late one evening, Jack stumbles across a mysterious evergreen-shaped door. What he finds on the other side of that door is a magical, wonderful, snow-covered land full of cheery elves, twinkling colored lights, peace, joy and goodwill galore. It’s Christmastown, and here, Santa Claus and merriment reign supreme. Jack returns home feeling downright inspired – he calls a town meeting and gleefully announces that this year, for a change, Halloweentown will take care of Christmas, and Jack himself will act as "Sandy Claws." As the townsfolk throw themselves into a flurry of work, crafting unintentionally horror-filled presents and revivifying skeleton reindeer, only Rag Doll Sally, who’s secretly in love with Jack, can see that Jack’s plans are sure to end up in disaster.

Review Animation in general just boggles my mind – the mere thought of having to generate individual frame after frame after frame to make a whole feature-length movie is enough vicarious work to give me a screamer of a headache. Seriously, the amount of labor required to make an animated movie is just insane – and even more so when the particular form of animation is stop-motion, as it is in Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. Whereas in traditional animation, frames are drawn in 2D, with stop-motion, the contents of each frame have to be physically constructed in actual 3D space. The miraculous thing about The Nightmare Before Christmas is that it immerses you so thoroughly in its charmingly macabre little world that it makes the creation of that world look effortless: it’s as if you want so much for all that beauty to really exist that your mind sort of blocks out the tedious work required to put it all onscreen. The characters all move with fluid grace, and the visual details are just perfect, from Sally’s beautifully stitched-on limbs and ballerina-elegant poise, to Jack’s sinewy-textured suit and creepy skeletal smile, to his ethereally transparent and utterly adorable ghost dog Zero, to the graveyard-gothic-inspired architecture of Halloweentown. While Tim Burton didn’t direct – he’s credited as producer and story originator – it’s a quintessential Tim Burton film: it’s his trademark hauntingly lovely aesthetic, bittersweet tone, and quirky dark humor that make The Nightmare Before Christmas the perfect Halloween treat. 
—reviewed by Y. Sun

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