December’s a minefield. Most of the year you can watch movies or TV shows, and you more or less know what you’re in for. If you’re watching the latest Martin Scorsese movie, things will probably get heavy. If you’re watching a sitcom, the stakes will probably be low. Even now in the era of prestige TV and extremely niche indie films—when the writing is, I think, sharper than it’s ever been, and creators feel free to hop genres and assume their viewers’ intelligence—you can usually decide how much depth you want to deal with, and tailor your viewing accordingly.
But not in December—in December even the wackiest comedies have to stop the action long enough to meditate on capital-M Meaning, and the grittiest dramas make room for capital-M Miracles, in order to acknowledge the annual cultural fulcrum that is Christmas.
In all of my searching I have found only one film that ignores this tradition of meaning-making. That movie is The Nightmare Before Christmas.
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