We loved "Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas" when we saw it, but we haven’t yet gotten to the new 3-D version So, we entrusted the analysis to former Boston Phoeniix critic M. Howell, a fan of Burton and the genre. What follows is his …
Fairly or not, the rap on director Tim Burton pegs him as a brilliant visual stylist who has trouble telling a coherent story (see Sleepy Hollow as Exhibit A.) So it may just be a poetic justice that one of the best Tim Burton movies isn’t directed by Tim Burton.
"Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas," is actually directed by stop-motion master Henry Selick (he also directed James and the Giant Peach), who takes Burton’s character sketches and original story and weaves a tale of mostly dead creatures that is bursting with life.
Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, is bored with scaring folks. Looking for new worlds to conquer, he stumbles across a portal to other holiday-villes and decides that this year, he will bring Christmas to the world. Jack’s motives are pure, but the execution is, er, flawed. His henchmen kidnap Santa, but instead of making him comfortable they deliver him to the clutches of the frightening sadist Oogie Boogie. Meanwhile, Jack is delivering presents that don’t exactly bring tidings of comfort and joy. In a neat twist, Jack has no idea that he’s scaring people — he thinks he’s filling Santa’s shoes exceptionally well.
For all the ghouls, werewolves, and assorted others, including a stitched-together love interest and a loathsome mad scientist, the residents of Halloween Town are a loveable bunch, merrily being creepy because that’s what they do. There’s a sweetness and generousity to Jack and Sally, the girl who adores him.