It's kind of amazing how "The Nightmare Before Christmas" became such a huge phenomenon. When it was released in 1993, it was released as under Disney's Touchstone Pictures banner as the company believed that it would be too scary to be released under their own image and the film didn't do as well because of that even though it was still a decent hit at the box office. The film then got a huge cult following to the point where Disney has since moved the film to its own image and now generally accepts it as one of their own. Having watched it for the very first time, I can see why it's loved by so many people. It's a very imaginative and creative movie with a nice simple story, great animation, likable characters as well as some fantastic songs.
The famous holidays of the world are divided into separate towns and celebrate their cheer on their one special day every year. One of these towns is Halloween Town populated with witches, vampires, werewolves, mummies, witches, you get the idea. The leader of the town though, Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon and sung by Danny Elfman) is getting tired of doing the same routine the residents do year after year and dreams of doing something new. He then accidentally stumbles upon the world of Christmas Town and tries to show the residents of town the idea of the holiday, but all fail to grasp it. Jack then gets the idea of taking over the holiday and asks the citizens to gather materials to turn the holiday into a "Scary Christmas", even going to the point where he kidnaps Santa Claus, (Ed Ivory) himself. What happens next I'd rather not say.
Because the film is not very long, the story is actually very simple and easy to explain. It also is very original as well because it has so much imagination and creativity thrown into it. The worlds that they live in are so imaginative that you just want to explore and get yourself lost in. The animation is top notched. The stop motion is pretty seamless and the characters design look very expressive as well as colorful that even for the citizens who live in Halloween Town don't look all dreary and gray. The animation was so good that it got the film an Oscar nomination for its visual effects. The characters are also great. They have very expressive personalities and are very likable as well, particularly Jack Skellington. But by far the best part of the entire movie is the songs. Written by composer Danny Elfman, they are very memorable and like a good musical should, advances the story. The song "Kidnap the Sandy Claus" in particular, got stuck in my head the day after I saw the movie. That's the sign of some good music. If I had only one flaw with the movie, it would be the way to these portals work. They're not clarified how these towns work and it really confused me when the characters would enter one world and then come back without showing how it works. It's really a nitpick though.
"The Nightmare Before Christmas" is a great example of a Halloween (or Christmas) classic. The story, animation, characters, and the songs are so memorable and creative that I'm glad the movie is getting the attention it should. I could see somebody being disappointed by the movie if they're building it up to be something big and fantastic, so if you're planning to watch it for the very first time, have your mindset to a short and humble film rather than the former. That's what I did and I certainly enjoyed it.
P.S. If you plan to watch this film for the very first time and want the best picture quality, be sure to watch the version with the Disney logo in front of the film and not the Touchstone logo as the latter's quality is so poor that it can become distracting.