15 Things I Realized While Watching The Nightmare Before Christmas for the First Time
Since we are now in that weird time period between Halloween and Christmas, where Thanksgiving used to live but apparently doesn't anymore, I thought now would be the perfect time to sit down and FINALLY watch Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas. At some pivotal point in my life I missed out on this cinematic adventure, and it just so happens that my boyfriend missed out on the same movie-watching experience! We popped it on, kicked back, and hyped ourselves up for what was to come next.
Going into watching this movie we both had decently high expectations. I've seen a few of Tim Burton's movies and really enjoyed them, so why should this be any different? I knew that this was mainly a Halloween movie, so it was going to have a bit of a darker feel, but my preconceived notion about this movie was that it was going to be much different than what it actually was. In my head, I was picturing one of those classic Christmas movies from the 1950s that are played on repeat throughout the Christmas season on ABC and meant for children, but with a Halloween theme. I was a little right but also so very wrong.
As I was watching the movie I decided to jot down my thoughts and feelings about what was happening on screen. In the end, I had many more reactions than I thought I was going to - who knew a skeleton man and a rag doll could be so controversial?!
Now, without further adieu, here 15 things I realized while watching The Nightmare Before Christmas for the first time:
- Alright, so the opening song is one I am familiar with. It's actually probably the only thing I know about this movie aside from that the main characters are named Jack Skellington and Sally (just Sally, like Cher). I always thought that this was a movie that people watched around the age of 10 or 11, but after seeing only this intro, I can whole-heartedly tell you now that my 10-year-old behind would not be caught dead enjoying this. There was not one "character" that was not capable of inducing terrible nightmares for any child (and maybe some adults!).
- The plot has just been laid - a classic storyline of the main character who is tired of the same old routine (literally) and secretly longs for something more. I can get behind this! Who hasn't lamented over the meaning of life in a graveyard, amiright?
- Let's talk about the relationship between Sally and this strange little guy. A few minutes ago she literally tore her own arm off to get away from him and now she's harvesting some poisonous plants to feed him. AND APPARENTLY THIS ISN'T THE FIRST TIME. I get that he "made" her and she's his "property" and all that, but if she has enough consciousness to attempt murder multiple times in hopes of escaping, it might be time to take a hint and let her go. There are definitely laws against this type of relationship, anyway.
- During the intro song, and now again as Jack is walking through the forest while having his existential crisis, we see the ring of trees that are also very clearly marked doors for other holidays. I have a few issues with these. My first about the fact that it seems like this is the first time anyone in Halloween Town has ever seen these doors. Does no one travel outside of the town square area? It seems like, with this being the spookiest pace ever, the citizens of Halloween Town would love to wander the woods all the time, thus SOMEONE has to have found this spot before. My next issue is that, according to the official The NightmareBefore Christmas Wiki Page, there are 7 trees/doors representing the different "holiday worlds" - Halloween Town, Christmas Town, Easter Town, St. Patrick's Day Town, Valentine's Day Town, Thanksgiving Town, and Independence Day Town. Why only these seven holidays? There are so many more holidays out there that could have a door. Are we to assume that there are more that aren't shown? Or do we just accept that in this world everyone is Catholic and American? Also, what would happen if Jack went through the Halloween Town door? Isn't he already there? Would he go into some type of in-between space? Is he somehow already there? I think I missed something...
- Jack's reaction to seeing snow and Christmas Town for the first time is literally me every Winter. "What's this? What's this?" Snow is so amazing - for the first day. Then it's just dirty and gross and cold, so enjoy it while you can, Jack! *Side note, why is eating snow such a natural reaction? I mean, who doesn't immediately grab a handful of clean snow and take a bite first thing after a storm?
- With Jack sneaking around Christmas Town like this, he's just asking to get caught. Inside someone's house while they're sleeping? Come on. There are significantly less creepy ways to learn about someone.
- So Jack comes back from this epic adventure where he discovers a new world and the citizens of Halloween Town can't be quiet for literally three minutes to let him explain. He clearly has the patience of a saint.
- The way he describes Santa is truly the stuff nightmares are made of. I get why everyone would be enraged, but I don't think that's what he saw? I think he has his Halloween filter turned up too high.
- I have an issue with this snowglobe he's gazing into while speaking. That looks like something that you get at a souvenir store. If that's the case then A. People from other holiday towns have visited there before B. Does that mean that Halloween Town is the only world oblivious to the other holidays? and C. What money did he use? Did he need to convert it? Does he have pockets in his suit? UGH, SO MANY QUESTIONS!!
- These kids that he calls to go kidnap Santa...they must really have a reputation for this kind of thing to be Jack's immediate go-to for the job. How many people have they kidnapped before? What else have they done? It seems like Jack really should have stressed kidnapping and not murdering, I'm not sure if they got that there is a difference.
- Who was the first person to think that a jack in the box was fun? What kind of monster thinks that creating a toy based off of pure suspense and fear is a good idea?
- This movie promotes unrealistic small feet expectations. Mainly Sally. She's probably about 7 feet tall with a size 2 foot. How am I supposed to live up to that?
- All of the people of Halloween Town are just fine with putting all of this work into making nasty toys and then watching Jack give them all away to the people of Christmas Town?
- So I haven't acknowledged Oogie-Boogie yet. You'd think that the guy who literally kidnaps Santa and ruins Christmas would be the bad guy of a movie, but no. There's someone worse. He literally looks like a giant booger and is super gross. He also bought Santa from the Kidnap Kids and has been playing some evil games with him and Sally, who he has also been holding captive.
- Meanwhile, Jack is going about his reverse-Christmas vigilante work over in Christmas Town and is shot down by the military. I guess everyone needs to be checked once in a while. I guess I just prefer my reality checks to come from a conversation. I didn't think Oogie-Boogie could get more terrifying, but no, of course he can. Falling apart at the seams to reveal a billion bugs...no words.
It wraps up like any teen drama on the CW. The main protagonist (Jack) swoops in and saves the day, gets the girl, learns a lesson from everything. They all live happily ever after. The End.
All in all, this was not a movie that I would probably watch again. I guess I get why people who saw it when they were younger like it. There were always those girls in high school who were strangely obsessed with Jack Skellington. He does have a few "tortured soul" moments that I guess teenaged angst connected with. But going into this at 26 years old, I was just waiting for is to be over with by the end (my boyfriend felt the same way).
So, I'm sorry if this conflicts with the nostalgic feelings and memories you have associated with this movie. I really wanted to like it, but I guess it's just not for me! Maybe I missed something, what are your favorite parts of the movie? Let me know in the comments below!