This film has been a source of inner conflict for me for a long time. I saw most of it years ago, but I couldn’t finish it. I found it too boring, even though I recognized its creativity. I thought that I could overcome this dilemma by coming back to it a few years later, but sadly, I’m still caught in the same spot.
This film is brilliant. Its visuals are absolutely stunning, and the attention to detail is so praiseworthy that one would have to bow down to Henry Selick in order to overstate how great the detail is. Even the very idea of the film, with all of its characters and little gags, is pure genius. In a way, I love this film. The problem is that it gets very dull very fast.
The reason for this is that the film only has one note – or at least it holds the same note too long. There are a few moments that stand out in the film as contributing something different to the film from its usual aesthetic: the scene in Christmas Town, the scene in which the toys attack the children on Christmas, and the scenes in which Santa is in the clutches of the Boogie Man. All of these scenes are strong, and I like them a lot – the first is charming, the second is very Gremlins, and the third is very Tim Burton. Apart from these, however, most of the film is just the same few feelings and motifs on repeat.
Some of this is due to the writing, and the actors might be partly to blame also, but this one mostly falls on Elfman. “This Is Halloween” is a good, catchy song, but almost all the other songs run together and are nearly impossible to tell apart. They all use the same few chords and are very limited in the emotions they express. Consequently, the film feels like a broken record. So I don’t think I could stand to watch this film every year, but since there’s clearly a lot to love hear, I’ll try to squeeze it in a couple times a decade.