Klaus (2019)

I have watched a few new Christmas movies this holiday season but Klaus has been my favourite so far.

This animated film brought to us by Sergio Pablos, the creator of Despicable Me, sets its sights on putting a little twist on the Santa Claus origin story.

Jesper (Jason Schartzman) is a wealthy, spoiled brat who has been forced to train as a postman by his father in a failed attempt to instill hard working habits. Jesper is sent to the isolated northern island town of Smeerensburg. His goal is to deliver 6000 letters in one year or else he will be cut off. Desperately trying to getting the townspeople to even write letters, he eventually meets an old woodsman Klaus (J.K. Simmons) and the real Christmas magic begins.


Without trying to spoil too much, the movie explains the elements of Santa's story in some creative ways. These explanations are rooted in reality but have a fun and goofy serendipitous nature to them all. The story explains everything from the sleigh, the reindeer, the laugh, and even the elves. 

The indigenous Sámi people were a cool addition to act as the elves in Santa's legend. I am not sure if that is culturally insensitive but I think it was done out of love more than anything. I like that the Sámi people don't speak English (I mean face it, no one in Smeerensburg really should) because it gives an outlet to show that people can be good to each other in spite or language or cultural barriers. It helps to impart the notion that love and kindness are universal no matter who we are, and the belief that:

"A true act of goodwill always sparks another"

I absolutely loved Klaus. I thought the story was relatively fresh considering how many times the story has been covered. Both the colours and plot are a bit dark and dreary but quickly lighten up as a great Christmas story should. The animation was absolutely stunning, a mixture of traditional 2D animation and CG lighting and textures to really bring dimension to the visual experience. Also, I noted some Tim Burton-esque vibes in the character design and colour palettes but there were clearly cues taken from a lot of different places strewn throughout. The characters were excellently cast. Schwartzman has a kind of squirrelly David Spade-like desperation that suits Jesper perfectly and Simmons has a warmth that works well with the titular big man. Rashida Jones, Joan Cusack, and Norm Macdonald round out the main cast. Honestly. I could go on for a while talking about this movie (well let's face it, any movie) but I don't want to bore you.

Will it crack my staple Christmas movie rotation? It very well may, we'll have to see if it holds up on subsequent viewings. Ultimately it boils down to this, even if it isn't in theatres near you, it is an easy recommendation that you can check out on Netflix.

- A lot of what I got is from an insightful Polygon interview with writer and director Sergio Pablos. My sources do in fact go beyond Wikipedia, albeit not much farther.
- Smeerensburg is a real place although it does not have the second 'S'. Smeerenburg used to be a small Norwegian whaling settlement, although there really isn't anything there now.


Popular Posts