Simply delightful
15 April 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Leave it to the wildly imaginative Tim Burton to come up with the brilliant idea of combining the radically contrasting holidays of Christmas and Halloween into a single hugely creative and entertaining movie that's done with a considerable amount of genuine heart and loads of cheerfully morbid dark humor. Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, is bored with celebrating October 31st all the time. So Jack decides to take a crack at Christmas instead with predictably disastrous results. Director Henry Selick, working with a bright script by Caroline Thompson and Michael McDowell, does an expert job of vividly realizing an utterly believable and enchanting fantasy world populated with colorful oddball characters and a truly enchanting sense of pure wonder. This world and its kooky inhabitants possess a playfully macabre charm uniquely its own; the whole thing has a certain endearing quirky appeal that's impossible to either resist or dislike. The cast voice the characters with immensely infectious enthusiasm: Danny Elfman provides the glorious singing voice of Jack (Elfman also did the terrifically robust score and wrote the highly catchy and witty lyrics for the songs), Chris Sarandon acquits himself well as Jack's distinguished speaking voice, plus there's sturdy contributions from Catherine O'Hara as sweet, smitten, sensible ragdoll Sally, William Hickey as marvelously grotesque crippled scientist Dr. Finklestein, Glenn Shadix as the jolly and hearty two-faced mayor, and Ken Page as supremely mean and evil ghost villain Oogie Boogie. Inspired moments abound: Jack gamely trying (and failing) to explain the concept of Christmas to the creepy citizens of Halloween Town, a gang of wicked brats accidentally abducting the Easter Bunny, and Jack's hilariously twisted mess that he makes of the merry yuletide season. The stop-motion animation is exquisitely fluid, dynamic, and convincing. Pete Kozachik's crisp cinematography makes the picture positively beautiful to look at. Better still, we even get a relevant message about sticking to what you know and do best. Why, there's also a pleasant love story between Jack and Sally to give the film extra poignancy. A total treat.
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