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Ross Family Movie Challenge: 'Beetlejuice' vs. 'The Nightmare Before Christmas'

Everett Collection; Disney

Every week EW’s Dalton Ross and his wife, writer Christina Kelly, have a… um, lively discussion about what movie they should watch with their two children (Dale, 12, and Violet, 9) that weekend. Now they make their cases publicly and you get to vote on the choices and decide how the Ross family will be spending part of their weekend. The power is in your hands, people. Last week, Dalton’s pick of ‘The Iron Giant’ easily outpolled Christina’s choice of ‘Young Mr. Lincoln.’ This week, the spouses each selected a Tim Burton movie for Halloween, but who selected better? Read on and then vote for which spooky Tim Burton film they should watch this week.

Dalton’s Pick: Beetlejuice (1988)
Honestly, I should just have to say the word three times: Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! (Or, for you sticklers out there: Betelgeuse! Betelgeuse! Betelgeuse!). I should just have to say it three times and my pick in this week’s special Tim Burton Halloween Movie Challenge of the Week should be automatically assured victory. Unfortunately, it is not that simple and I must rely on your votes, dear readers. But how can you vote against a classic of this magnitude?

We all remember the plot: Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis play mild-manned (read: wimpy) ghosts who are unable to scare the new residents out of the abode. So they call on pseudo professional exterminator Betelgeuse (Michael Keaton) to do the job for them. Only they get more than they bargained for. There is little doubt that this is the perfect family film for us to watch right before Halloween. Betelgeuse is rude and crude — which is to say completely hilarious to a 12-year-old boy and 9-year-old girl. (As well as their dad.) Plus, I had just been thinking how the kids have not been receiving their recommended daily does of calypso recently, but that is nothing a little possessed “Banana Boat Song” action can’t solve. The movie is funny, clever, and only mildly scary so won’t give Dale and Violet nightmares or anything. Unless head shrinkers seriously freak them out. Then we may be in trouble.

Christina’s Pick: The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Dalton and I usually pick movies that differ so dramatically that readers may wonder why we are even married. I promise that we do agree on some matters, such as the advisability of a Tim Burton film for the weekend before Halloween. Personally, I don’t like to watch traditional horror movies and purposely scare myself, since I can find daily life terrifying enough. Just driving my daughter to a soccer game in the neighboring town sends chills down my spine. Also, I think I was scarred for life by a childhood viewing of Willard, that creepy 1971 movie about a weird guy obsessed with rats. Clearly, my parents were too busy arguing about issues like “women’s lib” to hand-select our movies. Which brings me to my carefully chosen offering for my precious darlings.

The Nightmare Before Christmas grew out of a poem that Burton wrote, which was inspired by Christmas cartoons. Danny Elfman wrote the score, with the poem as source material. It is shot in cool stop-motion animation. The story concerns a creature from a Halloween world who finds a portal to a Christmas world.  When he tells his fellow Halloween creatures about this other place, they decide to take over Christmas. This completely unique fantasy may be the least Disney-esque film Disney has ever released. I think our kids will enjoy it, but, really, I’m not that invested in winning this week. I like Beetlejuice too. So go ahead: don’t vote for me. I’m not bitter about the absolute trouncing I endured last week. No, NOT AT ALL.

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