Friday, December 13, 2013

Humbug!: The Nightmare Before Christmas

I don't know about any of you, but I, for one, am sick of Christmas.  So to share my annoyance, all this month I'll be complaining about some of America's favorite Christmas movies.  Should be funny? We'll find out!  I'll start the month out by making fun of movies I actually like, and work my way to the crap that I really loathe.

Today's entry: The Nightmare Before Christmas!




Alright, so this film is a rare opportunity, as it is both a Christmas movie AND a Hallowe'en movie at the same time, and that is all kinds of awesome.  But I can't let that prevent me from criticizing it.  Lucky for me, the film's two main protagonists are a bored, thieving celebrity and a clingy child.  And no, I'm not referring to Lock, Shock, or Barrel.

What do we know about Jack Skellington, our supposed protagaanist in this animated motion picture holiday spectacular?  He's referred to as both "the King of the Pumpkin Patch" and "the King of Halloween" in the film.  He's clearly the most popular- and therefore, most powerful- person in the city.  Literally EVERYONE loves him.  He's the head coordinator for the town's Halloween festival, which is also the chief driver of the local economy.  Jack Skellington is absolutely the most powerful person he himself knows.

And all he can do is whine about it.

Because he is a person of privilege, he can't see how great his life is.  How he became so awesome is never revealed- maybe he once was a poor local boy who brought himself up by his bootstraps, or maybe (I'm resisting the urge to say "probably") he was born into his privilege.  "Kings" are, by an large, a familial title, so it's not unlikely that his own... skeleton dad (or something) was the previous king.  Ultimately it doesn't matter, because whatever his origins, Jack's privilege blinds him now. His life as an awesome celebraty has grown boring and stale to him, and he wants MORE.

So, what does he do when he accidentally stumbles upon a new and different culture, with it's own rituals and leaders?  He uses it to fill the void he feel inside himself.  "This time, Christmas will be ours!" probably should be read more like "Christmas will be MINE!". Without even meeting Santa Claus in person, Jack decides to take his place, kidnapping him and conveniently forgetting about him until the whole thing blows up in Jack's own face.  Our hero, ladies and gentlemen.

"But I never intended all this madness" Jack laments after being exploded out of the sky.  Well, guess what, Jack?  Intentions don't mean shit.  Everything that goes wrong in this film is your fault.  All of it.  On top of that, you might also be a weird pervert.  See, I know we're supposed to feel sorry for Sally whenever Dr. Finklestein is treating her like an ungrateful child, but consider this:  What if she really is just an ungrateful child?  Sure, she's in the body of an adult... rag doll.  But we have no idea how long ago she was created by the good doctor.  She certainly has child-like qualities.  Maybe she is only 12, emotionally speaking?  I know this is all guess work, so I don't want to accuse Jack of hooking up with some jailbait, but then again... I can't prove that he didn't do that, either.

And just how is it that Jack Skellington, possible sex offender and general all purpose jerkwad, could hold such sway over all of Halloween Town?  I don't want to go out and say that the entire town is run by morons, but.... the entire town is run by morons.   I mean, clearly.  The mayor openly admits to being incapable of make decisions.  There doesn't appear to be any form of city council, and there is literally a shack on the side of town where things go to get murdered.  That seems to be a well known part of City Lore, and no one has done anything about it. Ever.  Speaking of....

What's the deal with Oogie Boogie, anyway?  Like, I get that he's a sentient colony of bugs with a hive mind, that presumably feeds on other creatures to properly function.  Its weird as hell, but I read comics, so I get that stuff.  But exactly what is his legal status?  Even in a town of sentient skeletons and draculas he is especially feared, the only thing to actually be scared of in this town full of scary things.  Yet, he also has three children that he's, what, the foster father to?  At the very least, they are publicly known as his employees, despite the fact that they are minors and he is a notorious murder monster.

Still, the town seems to mostly be fine with that.  They tolerate Oogie's existence.... Until Jack realizes that he's a damn moron and Santa and Sally are in danger.  He murders Oogie, but not for being a sadistic asshole.  For being a sadistic asshole to HIS friends.  "How dare you treat my friends so shamefully!" is what he says before getting all murdery on him.  Its an inherently selfish statement; these are MY friends.  You don't eat MY friends, because they are MINE.

But is Oogie truly evil?  He's sadistic, obviously, and he enjoys playing with his (live) food, but so do cats.  I don't pretend to understand the biological process of a sentient insect colony, but if he's a monster in a basement (that everyone in town knows about) that regularly has live creatures sent down to (for his consumption), then the real villains are the snot nosed kids who sent Santa down there in the first place (even though Jack specifically told them not to).  And those little brats get off Scot-free.

I know Jack might have learned his lesson at the end, about paying more attention to your clingy goupie and maybe you shouldn't just steal other peoples things and then expect them to thank you for the privilege, but consider:  This is a Christmas movie that basically ends with Santa Claus calling out the main character for his bullshit.  That probably tells you something about your hero's journey, right there.

Next time on Humbug!:  Die Hard!  Man, at this rate I might never make it to the list of Christmas movies that I actually hate.  Maybe that'll be my Christmas Miracle this year....

Previously on Humbug!...
The Muppet Christmas Carol
Batman Returns

UPDATE: There will be no Humbug! for Die Hard, after all.  Two reasons for this:  First, real life got in the way.  And second, I just can't.  I tried, really, but Die Hard is pretty much a perfect movie.   Even stuff I'd normally complain about (like how there is exactly one lady character in the entire movie) makes a lot of sense in the context of it being a late '80s action film.  And hey, Mrs. Holly McClane is pretty damn heroic, you know?  Her life was in as much danger as John's.  So yeah.  It's just too good to mock.  I'm disappointed in myself too, believe me, but I just couldn't do it.

That being said, Humbug! was a lot of fun, and I might do it again in 2014. Only this time, I'm going to go after the movies I ACTUALLY hate, because my beloved films have suffered enough.  You know what you did, The Santa Clause.  YOU KNOW.

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