The Nightmare Before Christmas movie review


As it’s available on Netflix, I finally got around to watching The Nightmare Before Christmas.  Not being a big Tim Burton fan, I dialed my expectations down… then just a tiny bit back up again when I realized he neither directed the movie nor wrote the screenplay.  Over 20 years after it was new, I watched the stop motion film with the 94% Rotten Tomatoes score with bated breath.  

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand the movie kinda sucks.

This movie is boring, it’s really, really BORING.  I am completely and totally shocked by how boring it truly is.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some BEAUTIFUL images in the film, but Jesus Christ on second and Mother Mary on deck, keeping my eyes open was torture after the first twenty minutes.


This shot in particular is amazing. But you can’t hang an entire film on one shot.

OK, rant time:

I totally get why Jack is bored with his life – Halloween Land (or whatever it’s called) is sooooooooo boooooooooooring!  It’s the dullest, more lackluster background for a movie ever.  And yet, the movie has so many good ideas, but they never come to fruition, so I think some annoyance crept into my consciousness when I began to realize we were never going to see any of the other holiday worlds that they teased us with those enticing doors.   I thought Jack was bored!  Why not explore everything?!?  Probably because it’d be too costly for the production, but nooooooo, we get stuck in the static Halloween Land for the majority of the film.  And they waited way to long to set up the Oogie Boogie guy or whatever the hell that thing is and his weird trio of followers who serve him for no reason.  And why does Sally love Jack?  Why, exactly. do they fall in love?  The interesting melodies but ultimately redundant songs are all that pad this movie out to feature-length – that is, if 76 minutes counts as feature-length.

What!  Is! THIS?!?

It’s an incoherent mess filled with good ideas – the exact kind of disaster you get when you start shooting before the script is finished.  But… it wasn’t a disaster from a critical or business perspective.  The movie got good reviews and made tons of money.  Because… I dunno.  It had Tim Burton’s name on it, and hell, he made Pee Wee’s Big Adventure and Batman and Beetlejuice, and it looks like a weirdo Tim Burton movie and it’s different!

See, this is what I like to refer to as 1990s Kurt Cobain Syndrome.  Some new style of art (although I would argue that Burton’s style is really just his take on German Expressionism) would come along and everyone would say, “Wow, look how different this is from the 1980s!  No glam, no neon colors, it’s DIFFERENT!  So dark and edgy!  This is the new direction!  DIFFERENT!”  But different isn’t the same as good.  You can’t exchange a shiny wrapper for substance – remember learning about the Gilded Age in school?  Same idea.

Oh, this movie made $75 million dollars?  I guess you can.  But I don’t have to say it’s a good movie.

So, who’s this movie for?  Not for me… animation fans can delight in the excellent stop motion, that’s for sure.  Real little kids might be scared by some of the imagery while older kids might be put off by the big cartoony character design.  It is short and occasionally vibrant, so… I dunno.  Clearly, there are a lot of you out there who love this movie and it’s 20 years old, so odds are, you’ve seen it already.  I might brew up a pot of coffee and give The Nightmare Before Christmas one more chance, but it’s going to have to wait till next year.

About Jamie Insalaco

Jamie Insalaco is the author of, and editor in chief of

Posted on December 3, 2015, in christmas blog posts, movie review and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. haven’t seen it either, but I loved your review! It’s so refreshing when people aren’t afraid to take shots at a supposed “classic”.

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