But in later viewings, I do see why the film didn't hold up with mainstream audiences. It required a knowledge of what the product was supposed to look like, rather than what it did. It required the viewer to look past Chris Kattan and see the beautiful visuals, the lovely Anne Dudley score (why they didn't get co-star Bridget Fonda's husband Danny Elfman to compose is beyond me)
I've always felt a little sorry for Henry Selick--he's the real director of The Nightmare Before Christmas, and his talent for stop-motion is unmatched. Burton was originally supposed to be part of Monkeybone, but dropped out and left Selick hanging, which might explain why Fox felt they could push him around. Adding insult to injury, Burton went with another animation company on The Corpse Bride. But then Henry Selick kicked his ass by returning with Coraline, so I guess he won the puppet wars in the end.
Ultimately, Monkeybone suffers from the same style-over-substance that destroyed Cool World (another flop I've got a soft spot for) But there is some substance in there, buried deep underneath a lot of lameness. It's a film that I'm better off not watching again, instead savoring what I remember it being rather than what it might actually be.