Jack Skellington, the pumpkin king of Halloween Town, is bored with doing the same thing every year for Halloween. One day he stumbles into Christmas Town, and is so taken with the idea of Christmas that he tries to get the resident bats, ghouls, and goblins of Halloween town to help him put on Christmas instead of Halloween -- but alas, they can't get it quite right. Written by
Jon Reeves <email@example.com>
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'Twas a long time ago, longer now than it seems in a place perhaps you've seen in your dreams. For the story you're about to be told began with the holiday worlds of auld. Now you've probably wondered where holidays come from. If you haven't I'd say it's time you begun.
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Wonderfully imaginative animation, fun & intelligent songs make for a great family film for all but the youngest children
Jack Skellington is the Pumpkin King the creative genius behind the holiday of Halloween, designing each year to be scarier and more horrible than the one before. However deep inside he longs for more than the horror and scares of Halloween Town, a longing he cannot understand until he stumbles into Christmas Town and sees happiness and cheer the likes of which has evaded him all these years. Having finally worked out what Christmas is all about, Jack decides to kidnap Santa and make himself the new king of Christmas Town so that he can have the happiness of Christmas all the time. But the others in the towns realize the significant consequences that this disruption of the norm will have as Jack's evil nature proves harder to overcome than he thought.
With Pixar currently dominating the world of 'animations that please both children and adults' it is easy to forget that over a decade ago Tim Burton delivered this delightful family film to the cinema using a much more traditional animation and a huge amount of imagination. The basic plot is a great little fantasy fairytale with a very dark heart to it that make it much more enjoyable for having that edge. Too often kids films (especially at the time and animated) are soaked in a sweet sentiment that simply forgets that kids are not stupid and indeed often prefer a bit of darkness in the story. The only downside of this darkness is that younger children might not 'get it' and just end up being scared by the Halloween images and imaginative images. Despite this the material will play equally well to adults and children because it neither panders to nor excludes one group over the other at any time. Regardless of the material, the film still manages to come off as charming and enjoyable thanks to a well-written script that never plays for the basic laugh or easy sentiment. Some viewers may come to this with Pixar in their minds and bemoan it for not being hilariously funny from start to finish, but they are missing the point and
The songs reflect this approach and are very clever throughout; whether it is the sorrowful longing of Jack at the start or the Cab Calloway-inspired song from Oogie Boogie Man, generally they are inventive and fun. The same praise can be laid at the door of the stop-motion animation, which is inventive and fun to look at from start to finish. All the characters have a great deal of effort put in and they add to the dark feel of the film. The voice cast may not feature a load of well-known voices in the same way as Pixar films generally do, but they still do a great job. Sarandon and Elfman combine to do a good job with Jack; Page is fun as Oogie Boogie; O'Hara is good as Sally despite not having as fun a character to work with but for my money it is Hickey (as Dr Finklestein) and Shadix (Mayor) that make the biggest impression, mainly due to having the most enjoyable characters.
Overall this is a very short but very enjoyable film that will please both children and adults at the same time (with the same material) and never ignores or panders to one side of the audience over the other. Both groups will appreciate the dark fairytale, the clever songs, the darkly imaginative animation and the comic sense of humour, making this a family film that deserves to be remembered even as kids movie get smarter and fancier.
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