Is Nightmare Before Christmas Really That Great?


[Gravity falls/Nostalgia-Ween music plays] ?ouy htiw gnorw s’tahW ?sdrawkcab siht deyalp yllaer uoY [Gravity falls/Nostalgia-Ween music ends] Nostalgia Critic: Hello, I'm the Nostalgia Critic, I remember it so you don't have to and welcome to the first week of Nostalgia-Ween and you know what that means? You look around in all the stores and what do you see since October.


Halloween and also a little bit of.

Oh, come on! Okay, okay, stay focused.

Unlike retail stores.

That means certain things are going to be out and about.

Witches, bats, spiders, monsters and of course "The Nightmare Before Christmas" Hell, they practically have their own section.

Why? Because it has become a staple of the holiday.

Everybody immediately goes to this imagery when selling Halloween merchandise.

Even more than popular Horror films and and sometimes even Classic Horror films.

Kids are now growing up looking at Jack Skellington, Sally, Oogie Boogie and so forth before they even see the movie.

It's like seeing Dracula everywhere before you see the movie "Dracula".

It's kind of become a phenomenon.

Even Disney theme parks change their "Haunted Mansion" ride to the "Nightmare Before Christmas" ride and on top of that they do it around Halloween and Christmas.

That's no small feat, that takes a lot of work.

It's crazy how popular this film is.

Which is why it's funny when someone who hasn't seen the film finally checks it out after all that buildup, what's usually their response? Eh.

That was.

You all know what I'm talking about, heck maybe you're one of these people that experienced it.

Someone who saw "Nightmare Before Christmas" thinking it was going to be amazing and discovering something not awful but not what you expected.

As its popularity grows more and more so does the crowd of people with question marks over their heads that just don't understand it at all.

So, like a lot of these people, I have to ask the question, "Is 'Nightmare Before Christmas' really that great?" So many people year after year shrug in confusion about why this film is as popular as it is.

Is it something they're missing or is it another case of nostalgia goggles clouding an idea that wasn't anything that special? Well the first thing to keep in mind is unlike a lot of other popular films that many people claim are over hyped, this one didn't start out as a hit.

That is to say, it wasn't a failure either.

It did alright at the box office, But the reaction most people had when they first saw it was similar to what many people have today.

Eh Part of the reason for that back then is actually kind of the reason today.

Animated films have come a long, long way.

This is the time when "Beauty and the Beast", "Aladdin", "Mask of the Pantasm" and many other films were upping the anti on how mature animated films could be.

TV was following the same pattern, many of them were trying to entertain adults as well as children and like I said, you could argue that films and TV are doing that even today.

Which is why something like "Nightmare" doesn't seem to fit the mould.

It's not an especially grown up story with grown up writing or grown up humour.

It's actually super simple.

Jack Skellington, the ruler of Halloween Land, wants to take over Christmas so he can do something new.

So he learns to appreciate what he has.

Hmm, okay, that sounds fine for a little child but why is it still being seen on clothes, shot glasses and other adult merchandise? If it doesn't seem very adult, how come adults are eating it up? Well maybe part of it is that the idea is unbelievably creative and invites you into an unbelievably creative world and on top of that, simplifies what is essentially kind of a hard concept to explain.

Holidays having their own world and such.

Yet it explains it in a way that everybody can understand.

That's kind of tricky to do.

But big deal so it executes an idea very well, that doesn't necessarily mean that it has deep or engaging characters.

The dialogue from this movie is beyond basic.


Finkelstein: Curiosity killed the cat, you know? Jack Skellington: I know.

Nostalgia Critic: How long did it take you to write that one? But in trying to understand why people could possibly enjoy that kind of writing, can you think of other films and shorts that had similar writing? Immediately what comes to my head are holiday classics like "The Grinch", "Charlie Brown", the "Rankin/Bass" stuff and so forth.

All specials that have that kind of cheap quality to them but also a strange kind of honesty.

There's a sense that they tried to keep it simple because they don't want to lose the special feeling of the holiday.

In all these specials, the holiday is what's at the forefront even before the characters and story.

That's always the number one focus and that's why we always watch them around this time of year.

This one is very similar, except unlike the others, it does it with two holidays and on top of that they're two holidays that are so polar opposite, you'd never think to combine them together but they did and they mesh surprisingly well, in that, they're not supposed to mesh well.

Again, a message that should be made very clear.

But as you can see, it's such a weird complicated set-up that almost has to be kept simple.

These kind of specials hold up because the words and ideas they use are brief and short but also important.

People seem to appreciate both holidays here because it shows what happens if they were to be mixed together so it teaches you to appreciate everything in its own unique way one at a time.

But truthfully that's not the only lesson, it's also about not taking something for granted and appreciating the simple joys of what you have.

Again, simple joys, many great stories about simple joys are told in simple ways and this one is no exception.

It doesn't constantly explain the meaning of the holiday, it just lets you experience it.

Even Jack obsesses over what the meaning of Christmas is and then he realises, it can't be explained.

It just has to be felt.

Jack Skellington: Just because I cannot see it doesn't mean I can't believe it.

Nostalgia Critic: And everything, from the breathtaking visuals, to the catchy as Hell songs, to the very easy to grasp characters reflect that.

A good example of something similar is Batman.

This character has been around for years and has been represented as both complex and simple but it comes from a place everyone can understand, Bruce Wayne lost his parents and he wants revenge.

It is such a simple idea you get right away yet there's been so many variations of it.

Some childishly light, some disturbingly dark.

"Nightmare Before Christmas" is one of those ideas that could and, in some respects, is being retold.

It's one of a kind but there can also be variations.

There are plays, concerts and musicals that all give their unique spin on the source material.

Heck, maybe years from now we'll get variations even more different than the ones we're used to.

Maybe there will be ones with more adult jokes, more complex ideas and more twists and turns.

It can do this because it comes from a very simple yet identifiable source.

I think that's what people relate to in the story, not just the creativity of it but the simplicity of it.

This is a movie that is very basic, but so is "Rudolph", and "Christmas Carol" and "Great Pumpkin".

These are stories that anyone of any language can understand and enjoy.

So while it's very easy to see why someone wouldn't get into something so seemingly simple, it's also very easy to see how someone would.

Not only has this given birth to a new movement of creepy stop motion movies for kids that are still being made years later, but they're allowed to tell stories that can be timeless and not have to throw in catchphrases to get a crowd.

This is where a lot of that started.

And even though it clearly took influence from several other holiday specials, it's still its own unique vision.

You take any still from this movie and nobody will mistake it for "Grinch" or "Frosty" or anything like that.

They immediately know it's "Nightmare Before Christmas".

That's how strong an impact it has, any frame is immediately recognisable.

So, even though it's not super funny or super dramatic or super surprising, that was never really its purpose.

The purpose was to create something simple but amazing.

Small but impressive.

Weird but easy to follow.

It stimulates the imagination in a way everyone can understand and in some way relate to.

So, while it will never be a masterpiece to everyone, it will still be a beacon of imagination for many of us.

It's a symbol of Halloween that gets people excited because when Jack, Sally, Zero or any other creepy resident of Halloween Land are seen, it's a clear sign that the coolest holiday is right around the corner.

and you can bet that every person that enjoys the holiday will be singing, "This is Halloween" I'm the Nostalgia Critic and Nostalgia-Ween has just begun! [Manic laughter] Coming next week, Stephen King is back with "Dreamcatcher".

All be afraid of the Shit Weasels.

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[Outro music plays] [Outro Music Ends] [Channel Awesome jingle plays] [Channel Awesome jingle ends] Hey Doug Walker here, doing the charity shout-out, this week we are doing "Partnership for Drug Free Kids".

Their mission is to help families struggling with a son or daughter's substance abuse.

They provide practical information, tools and support on their website and through their toll free helpline: 1-8-5-5 DRUG FREE They advocate for addiction treatment and recovery support for teens and young adults.

As a national non-profit, they depend on donations from individuals like yourselves, Corporations, Foundations and the public sector.

Their YouTube channel offers stories and guidance to help families prevent and cope with teen substance abuse.

There's an especially wonderful video that shows an updated version of the egg in the pan with the, "This is your brain, this is your brain on drugs, any questions?" And, yeah, there are a lot of questions.

Our youth as well as drugs are constantly changing and we need to be on top of that.

This is an organisation that helps to keep us on top of that.

If you look at their website or their YouTube channel you can see they clearly know what they're talking about and have such big hearts and want to do everything they can to help these children out.

So please, take a look, raise awareness and share what you can with this great organisation that wants to make our kids clean again.