Take A Look at Disney

12/16/20

Santa Spectacle Two: The Nightmare Before Christmas





 
 
 
The Nightmare Before Christmas is a beloved alternative Christmas movie that has only grown in popularity.  My feelings on the movie, it’s not bad but it’s overrated and overhyped.  There are quite a few elements that work in making this a classic that people to this day but I dunno nothing about it struck me as great.  I don’t think I need I do a major plot breakdown because most people know the plot of this film but I will give a short breakdown before we get to the characters.  
 
The movie does have fun ideas but the execution in parts is rather boring. Again, this is just my personal opinion as I do get why people could like this movie but I feel like it lags a bit.
 
 
This movie is often credited as Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas and that is partially correct. He created the idea and it is based on a poem that he wrote.  However, the movie was directed by Henry Selick.
 
 

 

 
 

 
So often when this movie is promoted, all the credit is given to Burton and I get it as he created the characters and the story but Selick is the one that brought them to life amongst many other animators.
 
Even as someone that is the biggest fan of this film, that is a little annoying. Now it should be noted that characters such as Sally didn’t exist in Burton’s original poem.  I had a friend that she believed neither did Oogie Boogie.  With that out of the way, let’s look at the plot but keep it brief. 
 
 
The Plot
 
In the world of Halloween Town,  the Pumpkin King Jack Skellington is bored with life. It seems as though he is going through a midlife crisis and then stumbles into a forest of trees that lead to other Holiday worlds. He stumbles into Christmas Town and is in awe of what he sees.
 

 

 
 
He becomes enamored and learns of the holiday and Santa and this is where things go a bit off the rails as well, first Jack has Santa kidnapped while planning to take over the holiday.  Yeah, he says that it’s so that Santa can have the year off but kidnapping isn’t exactly the right way to go about it. And this is where my annoyance comes in with the movie, Jack is like that annoying fanboy that thinks he knows better than the creator of the work that he’s a fan of (see Star Wars), and that causes his charm to wear real thin real fast.  I get being in love with Christmas as it’s my favorite holiday but yeah.  
 
Yes, I know the point is to show that Jack isn’t better at being Santa than Santa but there’s really no comeuppance for his actions. I mean, there is Poor Jack at the end where Jack feels a bit of remorse for himself. If you’re a theater fan, you know that people have sid characters such as Evan Hansen are never punished for what they did, which isn’t true as Evan loses everything he had but Jack doesn’t lose anything and is just allowed to go about his life without any major ramifications for his actions.  And as Santa points out the only character with any sense in this movie is Sally.  I don’t think I need to say too much more about the plot and I think that it’s good enough. 
 
Let’s take a look at the characters. 
 
 
 
Characters
 
 
Now, I will not be looking at all the characters as not all are important to the story and I’d be here all day if I did. 
 
 
 
Main Character
 
 
Jack Skellington voiced by Chris Saradon/ Danny Dlefman (Singing)
 
 

 

 
 
I get why people like Jack but I honestly find him to be something of an annoying character and he crosses a line when A., has Lock, Shock, and Barrel kidnap Santa Claus. And then again, when he is determined that he can do Christmas better than Santa. I believe the idea of his character is to show that he should be content with what he has but that doesn’t work for me as people should be allowed to try new things.  Which he does and he fails but he takes it in grace.  Still, he comes across like a fan that thinks he knows better than the creator of the thing that he’s a fan of.
 
 
Sally voiced by Catherine O’ Hara 
 
 

 

 
 
 
I do like Sally and she’s probably the only character in the movie that I like.  She is sensible and is the one that can see that Jack’s plan will go awry. She tries to talk some sense into Jack but it doesn’t work. Still, she’s a fun character that has her own stuff going on such as getting away from Doctor Finklestein. 
 
 
 
Supporting Character
 
 
Santa Claus voiced by Ed Ivory 
 
 
 
 
If there is any character that I feel any sympathy for, it’s Santa. Here’s a man that is trying to do jus job when a skeleton that has no clue how any of it works and upends his holiday and makes it worse. And he has to clean up the mess, only after being tortured by a creepy skeleton that has no clue what he’s doing.  Normally, I don’t like seeing Santa frustrated but here he’s in the right 


Music



 

This is Halloween

 

 

This is a good number for setting the mood of the film and the atmosphere of Halloween Town. It’s a strong number that can get people invested.

 

 

Jack’s Lament

 

This ties into the idea of Jack not being fulfilled and to me, it seems like he is going through a bit of a midlife crisis.  Again, I like this number and it does tap into what Jack wants as it is a big I Want song.

 

 

What’s This?

 

This is easily the most iconic song from this movie and with good reason, it’s great. Hey, I may not like this movie but I can acknowledge when a song is good. This is a really good song that speaks to the wonders of Christmas and how joyous it can be.

 

 

Town Metting Song

 

 

This is an important character song as this the one where Jack’s delusions end up getting everyone else involved in his mayhem. This is a key song in advancing the plot and showing how far off the deep end he’s willing to go.

 

 

Jack’s Obsession

 

This in many regards is a good follow-up song to the last as it shows how far off the deep end, Jack has gone and there is no turning back for Jack now. No one can talk Jack out of his delusions of grandeur. In some ways, Jack is kind of like an addict in that regard. He needs an intervention but he’s drug the rest of Halloween Town down with him.

 

Kidnap The Sandy Claws

 

This is a fun and silly henchmen number about kidnapping Santa. It’s pretty good and the actors do a good job singing.

 

 

Making Christmas

 

This ties into the two previous songs before the last again showing how far off the deep end that Jack has gone. It’s clear that he thinks he’s well-intentioned but he doesn’t understand the mechanics of what he’s dealing with. Though, I gotta give him credit for going all-in.

 

Oogie Boogie’s Song

 

This is such a fun villain number that is clearly inspired by the likes of Cab Calloway with its Jazzy nature. It is so easy to see what this has become a villain staple and why Disney loves trotting Oogie Boogie out during Halloween. I may think he’s pointless to the story (he is) but he does have a great song.

 

Sally’s Song

 

This is such a somber number that I think is important in understanding why Sally doesn’t join in the festivities. While I didn’t bring up it originally, this is something that is key to her character.

She is also psychic and has premonitions when anything bad is about to happen.

 

That makes this song all the more poignant in my regard.

 

 

Poor Jack

 

I am really of two minds on this song, Elfman sings it beautifully and it is a good character piece bringing Jack full circle but like I said earlier in the review one of the major things that bugs me is Jack doesn’t have any consequences for his actions. Instead, he just remembers that he’s the Pumpkin King and that is it.

 

 

Finale

 

This is a good number to close out the movie. IT’s sweet and there is something fun in seeing these Halloween characters playing in the snow.

 

Villain 

 

 

Oogie Boogie voiced by Ken Page

 

 

 

I really feel like this character wasn’t needed and that he was much of an afterthought.  This is a story that doesn’t need a villain as the conflict of Jack messing up Christmas while becoming obsessed with it should be enough to carry the movie. He’s cool but he doesn’t add anything other than being the last obstacle that Jack has to stop and that happens after he has already stopped delivering his twisted presents.

 

 

My Final Thoughts

 

 

I really wish I liked this movie as much as the rest of my generation does.  It’s not a bad movie and the songs are great but I honestly find the story rather lacking and a bit boring in places. I totally get why it’s a cult classic but I don’t know if I’ll ever return to it. Join me next time as I look at…

 

Phineas & Ferb: Christmas Vacation

 

 







 

12/10/20

Santa Spectacle Two: 'Twas The Night

 






Bryan Cranston is one of the biggest names in Hollywood thanks to his breakout role as Walter White on Breaking Bad.  Long before that, he was the dad on Malcolm in the Middle, and one year after that show debuted on Fox, Cranston could be seen in this Disney Channel Christmas movie.  'Twas The Night is a movie that I think can best be described as generic. Not bad but generic. This is something that I'll go into a bit more when we look at the plot. Again, it's not bad but there isn't a whole lot to it. 


With that out the way, let's begin and get to the plot.


The Plot


The plot is admittedly simple. As we follow a troubled man, Nick Wrigely.  Okay, these Christmas movies love using names that align with Santa. He's hacked by some dweebs and goes on the run and decides to go to this brother's house and hide out there. He's not exactly thrilled to see him. Can't blame him as the guy is a bit of a loser.  He ends up hanging out with his nephew Danny and at one Santa shows up and using a device to freeze time, things go awry as they knock Santa out. And they take the sleigh using it to deliver presents while Nick also steals presents. It's not a good look.  And honestly, it falls into the annoying trap of liar revealed at the end.


Danny's younger siblings go with Santa in the hopes of getting his sleigh back, there are some fun moments there but this Santa is just unlikable and there is no real warmth to him. Which is something that I think is always needed when playing Santa.  The movie ends with Nick confronting the dweebs that he was running from and using a device to turn one of his tomentors to a cast member of Honey, I Shrunk The Kids hopes to make ammends for his past actions.

Yeah, this movie is okay but not great. The only reason to watch it is to see an early role of Bryan Cranston.


My Final Thoughts

Skipping characters because I have nothing to say about them here. Again, this movie isn't bad but you really don't need to go out of your way to see it. Join me next time for a bit of a controversial take as I look at why I don't like a certain movie as much as others...




The Nightmare Before Christmas


12/9/20

Santa Spectacle Two: Yes, Mikey, Santa, Does Shave (Recess Episode Review)





One of my favorite stories around Christmastime is that of Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus. In this real-life event, eight-year-old Virginia asked her father if Santa Claus was just a character or if he truly existed.  Her father suggested that she write to The Sun.  The young girl's question was answered by a former war correspondent that rose above the simple question and in turn, gave America one of its most beloved holiday stories.


I bring this up because what we are looking at today takes inspiration from this classic story.  In 1998,  Disney's One Saturday Morning had an episode of one of their most popular shows deal with the very question of Santa's existence and if one is ever too old to believe in him.   Today, I am looking at the only Christmas episode of the '90s classic Recess. 


The Plot


As I stated up-top,  the plot is basically about one of the main characters, in this case, Mikey trying to prove that Santa exists.  He is the only character of the core group that still believes in Santa. He faces the heartbreak of weasel Randall saying that Santa doesn't exist and this is what sets Mikey on a quest to prove that Santa does exist from going everywhere to seeing a Mall Santa to overhearing a radio DJ doing a Santa voice and that is what causes Mikey to finally break down.  While this is all going on, the school is holding a holiday pageant and Mikey has been cast as Santa but has lost his Christmas spirit when he is convinced that Santa doesn't exist. That is until he comes across something that I love about this episode. as Mikey does meet Santa and he may not know it and he's played by James Earl Jones.






This is something that on the surface is so small but think back to what Miles' says at the end of Into The Spider-Verse of how anyone can wear the mask,  well anyone can also wear the red suit.  And that's what we are seeing here.  This episode doesn't go for the traditional White-bearded Santa.  Santa is instead a shaved Black man that lives at a retirement home.  Oh sure,  there has been merchandise of Black Santa's before. 





And of course, there have been Black men that dress up as Santa for the holidays but I cannot think of another movie or show where a Black actor has played Santa, and to have someone, as revered as James Earl Jones, playing Santa is just mindblowing.  It honestly adds so much more weight and gravitas when he tells Mikey that sometimes the strongest things that we believe in are what we cannot see.  And instead live in our heart.  This gives Mikey the courage to show up for the show and this is where we get to hear Mikey's singing aka Robert Goulet sing White Christmas.  And the old man that gave Mikey courage and spirit to show up comes to the show and Mikey is confused as to how he knew where to show up. And he tells Mikey that Mikey invited him and this ties to when Mikey got the part of Santa, he wrote a letter inviting Santa to come to the pageant.  







The episode ends with there being snow for the first time at the school in years and the kids see Santa flying off and all of them are left dumbfounded except Mikey because he still believes.    This episode is great and I wish that I watched this episode more before this year, but thankfully Disney+ had it. 



Characters


Mikey voiced by Jason Davis






Using Mikey for this episode was a perfect choice as he is the most optimistic and has the biggest heart of the group.  Seeing his belief shaken makes you want to root for him and has him proven right.  And there is such a big smile when he is.


Santa voiced by James Earl Jones





I had no idea that James Earl Jones played Santa in this before doing research for this review and man does he knock it out of the park. He plays one of the best Santas in a piece of media that I've seen and part of that is because the episode doesn't stick to the traditional idea of Santa.  And thus is able to do some interesting things with Santa that you normally wouldn't expect to see.  And I actually enjoy this unique take on Santa here because it doesn't stick to tradition.



My Final Thoughts



This episode is like I said great and part of that comes from it showing that Santa can be anyone and anyone can inspire faith in those that have left their Christmas spirit as seen here.  It's such a great episode and I love it because of that. Join me next time as we look at an early Bryan Cranston role as I look at...


'Twas The Night















 

12/8/20

Santa Spectacle Two: Prep & Landing: Naughty Vs. Nice

 



In 2016,  I did one of my favorite holiday events, the Santa Spectacle. Looking at Santa related material from Disney.  This year, I've decided to return to that event. However, this event will include reviews of stuff that is more Satan adjacent such as with this first review. In 2014, I looked at the holiday special Prep & Landing. To kick off this sequel event, I've decided to look at the sequel Naughty Vs. Nice. 


The original Prep & Landing itself was a simple holiday special that dealt with realizing sometimes you don't always get what you want and that might be for the better.  What is it's a sequel about? Sibling relationships.  The special's title might make you think that you are just being introduced to the elves that deal with the Naughty kids. And that is true as this special speaks to how younger siblings such as myself look up to our older siblings for guidance. They are the first heroes we have.  As I'll discuss in the plot, sometimes us younger siblings are viewed as annoying and a burden to our sibling when we are firstborn. Anyways with that out the way let's begin.


The Plot


The special opens with narration from Wayne, the main elf of the previous special telling the audience of the Coal Brigade who is sent out to deal with the naughty children.  Well, a naughty child had taken hold of important North Pole technology.  It's now up to Wayne and his partner Lanny to save the day. They are set up with the foremost naughty child expert. And this is where things get interesting as it is Wayne's younger brother, Noel.  


This is interesting as they are two very different people. Wayne is serious and professional whereas Noel is loud and obnoxious.   And people seem to love the younger brother more.  I do get that as that is a common trope and I have heard from other siblings that that is how they sometimes feel. So, there is an accuracy there. This will also come into play a bit with our quote-unquote villain.  A young girl named Grace.





Apparently, she wants to get herself off the naughty list as she believes it to be a misunderstanding and that it is actually the fault of her baby brother. 


believing that she had been set up by her toddler brother, Gabriel, who had destroyed her favorite toy and ruined her chances to ask Santa for a new one by his crying. After a somewhat intoxicated Lanny suggests using the "magic word" to get the password for the device that will get her off the list, she does just that: using the word "please" as the password, since genuinely naughty kids never say "please.



I do get where she's coming from as it does make a bit of sense but hey, we younger siblings don't always mean to do what we do.  Things seem to be going her way at first but a malfunction after she switches her name to the nice list causes every child in the world to end up on the naughty list.  Meanwhile, Wayne is getting tired of being shown up by his younger brother and says the one thing that would crush any sibling, that he wishes he didn't have a younger brother.  Those words are just so painful and I'm sure something siblings young or old have thought at one point in our lives. Grace seeing this argument between the brothers realizes that her baby brother can't control what he does and find the love for him again.  This is great but there is still the issue of trying to get the kids off the naughty list...  This is resolved by taking the device to the highest point they can find and that can help the next morning, the brothers have reconciled and awarded Elf of the Year together. And Grace is gifted with a new toy to replace the one that he tore up.



In all, this is a cute special with a good message.  Let's take a look at the characters.



Characters 


While Lanny was a major character in the first special, he was sidelined a bit in this special but I do get that and there isn't enough to justify talking about him here. With that out of the way, let's take a look at the characters.


Wayne & Noel voiced by Dave Foley & Rob Riggle 










I greatly enjoyed the sibling relationship between these two being a younger brother to an older sister, I can't speak to the validity of how this brotherly relationship played out but it felt and natural.  There was a sense that even though Wayne may have gotten annoyed by his little brother and not liked his actions, he still loved him.  And this is cinched for me when Noel tells Wayne that he was his hero as this speaks to a truth that so many younger siblings like myself have, our older sibling is our first hero.



Grace voiced by Emily Alyn Lind 






 









I don't actually side with the special presenting Grace as being naughty. Yes, her actions were wrong, there is no doubt to that but I think they are more understandable than just being straight-up naughty.  She's not a bad kid. She's just misguided and needs to be set straight and that is what she learns in this special.  She comes to have an appreciation for her baby brother and realizes that she has to be a better example for him. As a younger brother with an older sister, this is important to me. I love my sister, she is someone that I look up to dearly but I know that when I was first born, she loved me and resented me at the same time because as a younger sibling, I took the attention away from her.  Though we grew closer over time, sure there were bumps but that's true of any sibling relationship and she has always told me that she would do anything to protect me.  I feel that Grace is still in the early stages of understanding what it means to be an older sibling and how much her little brother is going to look to her as he grows up.



My Final Thoughts


This is a great special. The first is stronger in my opinion but still, this isn't that bad. Join me next time for a Recess break as we learn that


Yes, Mikey, Santa Does Shave