Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas

There's a new Santa Claus in town, and if you're lucky your Christmas gifts could include a hungry snake or a severed, shrunken head. Welcome to THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, producer Tim Burton's animated, musical vision of a world where skeletons are considered handsome and spiders tasty. Working within the relatively obscure techniques of stop-motion...read more

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There's a new Santa Claus in town, and if you're lucky your Christmas gifts could include a hungry snake or a severed, shrunken head.

Welcome to THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, producer Tim Burton's animated, musical vision of a world where skeletons are considered handsome and spiders tasty. Working within the relatively obscure techniques of stop-motion animation (by which puppets are manipulated, one frame at a time, to

create the illusion of movement), Burton and director Henry Selick have pulled off a spectacular visual coup, revolving around a character known as Jack the Pumpkin King. Frustrated with the limitations of his native Halloweentown, which is peopled by assorted macabre types and presided over by a

(literally) two-faced mayor, Jack tries to conquer neighboring Christmastown, where the nice people live.

NIGHTMARE betrays almost demonic powers of invention, every frame crammed with eye-catching (and frequently eyebrow-raising) detail. It's also appealing to the ears, courtesy of Danny Elfman's infectious, amusing songs. Yet the richness of the canvas only draws our attention to the weakness of

the narrative. Burton seems to waver between rooting for the scary guys and the cuddly ones, and his indecision makes it hard for us to respond on an emotional level. The result, though refreshingly different from mainstream animated fare, is ultimately more trick than treat.

MIXED-ISH - In "mixed-ish," Rainbow Johnson recounts her experience growing up in a mixed-race family in the '80s and the constant dilemmas they had to face over whether to assimilate or stay true to themselves. Bow's parents Paul and Alicia decide to move from a hippie commune to the suburbs to better provide for their family. As her parents struggle with the challenges of their new life, Bow and her siblings navigate a mainstream school in which they're perceived as neither black nor white. This family's experiences illuminate the challenges of finding one's own identity when the rest of the world can't decide where you belong. (ABC/Kelsey McNeal)
MYKAL-MICHELLE HARRIS, ARICA HIMMEL, ETHAN WILLIAM CHILDRESS
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