Double-Feature Review: The Pumpkin King Meets The Extravaganza

The Nightmare before ChristmasDear Reader,

Please forgive me for what I am about to admit to you. Though it’s a sin of practically unforgivable proportions (or so I’ve been told), I’ve never seen Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. I’ve heard about it, I’ve seen the posters, I’ve even listened to sections of “This is Halloween”, but despite being on this Earth all these years, I had never seen the actual film in its entirety. Until just now, that is. Perhaps it is just the types of communities that I have participated in (many of them theatrical ones), but The Nightmare Before Christmas has had a huge reputation. Though I had never told anyone that I had yet to see the film, the comments that I heard told me that this was a film not to be missed. Now that I have seen the film, I must stand back and say that this reputation has been properly justified. The film is a wonderful musical trip that encompasses much of the spirit, adventure, and fun of childhood. At the same time, there is much to love for adults as well. Though the stop-motion has a dark look to it (and does feature skeletons, witches, ghosts, and other ghastly figures), the film is actually about one man’s quest to find the meaning of Christmas. There are no plot twists or epic surprises, but the film has such a strong cast that it doesn’t need any of that in order to be the enjoyable and captivating story that it is.

This leads me to the second part of this double-feature review. Though The Nightmare Before Christmas is a well-known story by now, something that may not be as well-known is The Julius Romeros Extravaganza by Hayley Lawson-Smith. If this sounds familiar on my blog, I did a post about it before. That blog post talked about the first part of the trilogy. Part Two is now available for reading. If you read the book (or the blog post about it), you might remember that the first book (“A Bearded Girl“) details a bearded girl named Abigail and her journey to find a family that she can call her own. In the second part (“A New Adventure“), she has found her family, who are a colorful cast of circus performers. However, though Abigail is with the Extravaganza, unwanted changes to the circus act means that the family will have to find new ways to deal with a world that they cannot control. Just like The Nightmare Before Christmas, the characters all have their own distinct personalities. Though this book isn’t a musical the way that Nightmare is, the dialogue has a great rhyme to it that feels as melodious as instruments working together. This is a story about finding one’s identity and figuring out who one is (both in their community and on their own) and about understanding how one can still be oneself when some of their physical attributes are modified. In the same vein of Nightmare,  young adults and adults should be able to enjoy the tale together (so get multiple copies).

Have you seen Nightmare or read Julius Romeros, Part One or Part Two? Let me know down below.


Jumbled Writer

*Photo Courtesy of Gloria Miller from


8 Responses to Double-Feature Review: The Pumpkin King Meets The Extravaganza

  1. Okay, since we are admitting such things here, I suppose it would be the proper forum to say that I had never seen “The Nightmare Before Christmas” either until last week when I was finally tied to the couch so that I could leave. My children can be quite adamant sometimes 🙂 I thought it was a fabulous, fun movie and even asked the kiddos why they hadn’t tied me down to watch it sooner. I could listen to “This is Halloween” over and over too…it is just so catchy and fun! Glad to hear that you also enjoyed it.

    • It seems we are both latecomers to this franchise. I can definitely see why it is loved so much by critics and fans. I believe Danny Elfman composed the score, which makes sense, since he creates a lot of great music.

  2. I like your unique titles you have. Yes, I’ve seen the Nightmare Before Christmas but I haven’t read the Julius Romeros Extravaganza books. I enjoyed the movie well enough, but it doesn’t evoke that feeling I get with certain movies that I can watch over and over. Well, my secret is – I can’t watch or reread many movies or books. But there are some….

  3. I have not seen it myself, but that’s more due to juggling and prioritizing on my part. Coming from a man who does not watch movies often, I often find myself in that “you haven’t watched that?!” group. Why, yes, I haven’t watched it; I’ve been trying to earn a living or make a better life for myself or figure out me as a person. NPR had an article earlier this year lamenting the physical inability not being able to read every book in the world because of proliferation. It would take a spectacular juggling act to include video media, too.

    It’s great that people can enjoy and get behind a movie like this, but the societal shock of not being on a bandwagon does wear a person out. No one should need to give you a hard time for not watching something, JW. Maybe it would be something positive, if they were to facilitate showings of their favorite movies instead of trying to shame you into doing it yourself?

    • It would be a hard thing to read every book and seeing all video media would be insane. Just think of all the TV shows that are out there right now. In some ways, film would be easier, since it is newer than literature, but I wonder if home videos on YouTube would classify as film? If someone wants to spend their time doing things other than seeing certain films or reading certain books, it should be fine.

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