Ladies and gentlemen, it’s a holiday miracle! Despite current events, I have found a Christmas movie that’s fun for viewers of all ages. Released into select theaters for 2019, and now available on Netflix, I’m happy to share with you the animated family film: “Klaus.”
Having been labeled as the postal academy’s worst student, Jesper (Jason Schwartzman) is dispatched to the foulest place you could send a postman, to a lone island known as Smeerensburg. There, he finds a broken-down town occupied by two rival families, who are more focused on exchanging brawls than words, let alone letters. Trapped in such a grueling location, Jesper is all but ready to throw in the towel, until he discovers a lone cabin out in the woods, inhabited by an enormous woodcutter known only as Klaus (J. K. Simmons), who despite living alone, has a home filled with handmade toys
Soon, Jesper hatches an idea. For while the adults of the town have no desire to send letters, the children are more than eager, especially for a chance to receive a brand-new toy from the kind toymaker out in the woods. Together, Jesper and Klaus form an unlikely team as they begin delivering presents to every needy child of Smeerensburg. While their actions help bring joy into the children’s lives, it also just might do something more, and turn a once thought hopeless town into something better. The animated film also stars Rashida Jones, Norm MacDonald and Joan Cusack.
It’s been a long time since I looked at an animated film, and a Christmas film no less. “Klaus” was like a breath of fresh air. The film is just beautiful to look at, and with such a feel-good story, I’m surprised it hasn’t received more attention.
The movie was written and directed by Sergio Pablos, who worked as the Supervising Animator for Disney’s “Tarzan” and “Treasure Planet,” however, some of you might also know him as the co-creator of “Despicable Me.” With such an impressive resume, it’s no wonder that the film’s animation is so unique. You see, this isn’t computer generated like your average Pixar or DreamWorks film. No, “Klaus” is a 2D film made from hand-drawn animation, mixed with CGI lightning techniques. So, while the film may have a 3D look to it, don’t be mistaken, “Klaus” is indeed a 2D animated movie.
Every detail of the world is drawn beautifully. It doesn’t feel like you’re looking at a village from someplace in the real world, it feels like something out of a fable. The movie knows how to use colors creatively, showing us scenes that are bright and vibrant; while dipping into parts that are dark and grim. It almost feels like a Disney film from the early years.
As for the story itself, I must beg your pardon, as I feel there’s no other way I can better describe the movie except through one simple word: cute. This is just a cute film with wonderful animation and an equally wonderful cast. Plus, J. K. Simmons, as always, is an absolute treasure. What I love most about the story, however, is how it interweaves the Santa fable into the movie, without ever using the name “Santa Claus.” The story is an original tale about the beginning of the jolly man in red who gave presents to children, and the film is quite clever in how each part of Santa’s mythos came to be—the naughty/nice list, the cookies, the chimney, etc. Plus, clocking in at only 1 hour and 36 minutes, it’s a viewing that never feels like it’s dragging or wasting your time.
“Klaus” is rated PG for crude humor and mild action. If you’re making a list of Christmas or animated films you plan on seeing, this is one you have to add. It’s an enjoyable watch for viewers of all ages, and a fun film for the holidays. It certainly was for me, which is why the final score for “Klaus” is an outstanding 8.5 out of 10!