Since the release of the stop-motion animated masterpiece The Nightmare Before Christmas in 1993, the film has become a global phenomenon thanks to its strikingly original story, unforgettable musical numbers and unforgettable characters like Jack Skellington, Sally and Oogie Boogie. Produced by film icon Tim Burton and based on his original poem, Nightmare also launched the feature film career of director Henry Selick, who later went on to direct other stop-motion classics including James and the Giant Peach (1996) and Coraline” in 2009.
Now, just in time for Halloween, Selick is back in Wendell & Wild, another incredibly entertaining stop-motion film he co-wrote and produced with Academy Award winner Jordan Peele. The actor-filmmaker and his longtime Key & Peele comedy partner Keegan-Michael Key voice Wendell and Wild, two demon brothers who yearn to escape the underworld that has held them captive so they can live their dreams. The duo’s luck changes when they are called to the land of the living by Kat (voiced by Lyric Ross), a guilt-ridden 13-year-old orphan who hopes Wendell and Wild can help her after her tragic loss Finding peace with her mom and dad years ago.
New to Netflix, Wendell & Wild showcases Selick’s distinctive stop-motion film style, including moments reminiscent of The Nightmare Before Christmas. Only time will tell what kind of unanswered questions fans will have about Wendell & Wild, like one big question about The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Selick calls Nightmare a collision “between two of the most colorful and fun holidays”
Since the film’s release on October 15, 1993, perhaps the most debated question about The Nightmare Before Christmas has been whether it’s a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie. In an exclusive interview with Looper to discuss Wendell & Wild, Henry Selick offered his thoughts on the subject – an opinion that carries significant weight given that he directed Nightmare.
“At the very beginning when Tim [Burton] “When it first came to Disney and it was intended to be a half-hour Christmas special, the brilliance of his idea was that it was a mashup between the two,” Selick told Looper. “It [was] certainly inspired by The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and the original poem and whatnot. But the answer is, it’s both. It’s two of the most colourful, fun holidays and a collision between the two. It’s not real [one or the other]. I’ve pulled one over the other at various times, but the answer has to be both.”
Wendell & Wild is steeped in the same stop-motion spirit as Nightmare
While Wendell & Wild and The Nightmare Before Christmas are distinctly different stories, Henry Selick believes the two are bound by the same creative threads due to the timeless nature of stop-motion animation. As such, Selick is thrilled that the spirit of the tech is still intact nearly 30 years after the release of Nightmare.
“Something that is at the core of mainstream animation is the direct connection between the animator and the puppet, which must be moved up to 24 times per second to produce finished footage. That’s something we’ve never given up, that direct connection,” noted Selick. “While there’s certain technology that’s helped us – we’re no longer shooting on film and don’t have to worry all night about the lab messing up the footage – it still comes down to our super-talented animators and a well-made.” doll and hopefully a good story to tell. That hasn’t changed, and stop motion should never change.”
“Wendell & Wild,” starring James Hong, Angela Bassett and Ving Rhames, streams exclusively on Netflix.