Movie Review: The Nightmare Before Christmas

It occurred to me that when I wrote this (non-Wordpress time), it was the 25th. Happy Christmas in July!

After a long day on a commercial shoot at a recycling plant, I came home exhausted. One hot shower and Italian ice later, I grabbed my VHS print of The Nightmare Before Christmas. I wasn’t in the mood for something complicated or hard to watch.

I guess I was a cinematically-deprived child growing up. There are some films that I still have yet to see that everyone else I knew as a kid had seen when they were first shown in theaters (the Harry Potter saga and LOTR to name some) or had worn out the tape. This was one of those films. I didn’t see this until I was a freshman in high school during an art class. At the time, I figured it was a decent film and I was glad to have finally seen it. Now, I understand that there was an analogy that I didn’t grasp upon first viewing: rebranding.

If you keep the core story of Jack looking for inspiration for a change in identity, both personal and within the town, and place it in an ad agency or the like, there is a new angle to the movie, one that I will use for this review.

Jack, as head of a company, celebrates with company after another successful launch of Product X. However he feels that while the success for the company is good, he feels nothing in return. He looks at another successful company, gathers enough information to satisfy him, and calls an emergency company meeting. Because Jack only gathered research once, he didn’t bother to talk to the employees of the competition or confirms if the research was really valid. The vote is unanimous and so the rebranding begins.

Jack figures out after some personal research and development what makes Product Y so successful, so he thinks. Duties are handed out and along the way, he has his competition kidnapped. During the night of the public rebranding launch, it doesn’t go so well and results in allowing the competitor to step in and save both companies.

Add holidays, music, and German Expressionistic elements you get The Nightmare Before Christmas. Not so far-fetched now, isn’t it?

The only issue that comes to mind is Sally. Sure, she’s pinned as the love interest but the love between her and Jack is never expressed until the very end. Jack’s part of the relationship, again, doesn’t occur until the end. There is no real sense that he cares for Sally other than as a thank you for the gift and giving her the duty to design the suit. I suppose (and probably is the case) that the reason that they express love at the end is that Jack realizes that Sally helped him in one way or another to realize what he had all along and there was no need to drastically change. Now, if Jack did not go through with his plan and come upon the realization, there would be no real conflict and, to some extent, no film. Sally’s wish for Jack to stay the same prior to the Christmas launch is a bit selfish. Without change, there can be no growth, no learning, no wisdom. It isn’t until after the realization that she makes the step towards growth.

All in all, it’s a simple film with a story that uses Halloween and Christmas as an analogy for rebranding. If you plan to watch this any time after reading this, keep it in mind and see for yourself.



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