Tim Burton's style is, essentially, exaggeration, putting things entirely out of proportion with reality, with a hefty amount of dark humor thrown in.
The Nightmare Before Christmas is a stop-motion animated musical featuring spooky creatures dabbling in a holiday where they don't belong. This is just about the perfect project for Burton's skills. The characters here are relatively simple exaggerations who break out into song, and that's the only way for this story to work effectively. We finally have something worthy of lifting the mantle from the old Charlie Brown holiday specials.
The story revolves around Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King. At the top of his Halloween craft, he finds something missing in his life and seeks out whatever that may be, outside the bounds of Halloweentown. He soon stumbles upon Christmastown and finds himself in awe of the wonderful things about that holiday.
However, living in Halloweentown leads to a skewed perspective and Jack's plans for his hometown to coopt Christmas leads to some unusual interpretations of such things as what makes a fitting present for children.
This Nightmare is fitting for most children. Even the most grisly elements are depicted with pure whimsy. Heck, children may even understand it better than their parents - my theory here is that children will see how the characters are merely reacting to unfamiliar ideas, while those concerned for their welfare will focus on the gruesome aspects. But please don't start writing parenting books based on my statement - I'm no parent, nor have I been a child for some time.
Really, Nightmare is all about relishing the fun of a unique, somewhat perverted perspective. It's through looking at ourselves in new ways that we can see who we really are. The film itself is not terribly deep, and probably shouldn't be. There can be a certain beauty in well executed simplicity.
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