Okay, disclaimer time. I am not a fan of Christmas films, I find them very cliché and sappy, and overall I feel my time could be better spent watching paint dry. BUT that being said, I sat down this weekend to watch the new(ish) Netflix film, Klaus. In fact, my boyfriend and I decided, on a whim, to check it out and we became so enthralled with the darker, slightly more edgy animation that we decided to grab some snacks and settle down for the long haul.
The premise of this 2019 movie follows Jesper, voiced by Jason Schwartzman, a very entitled young man from a postal business who shows a complete lack of enthusiasm for the family business. Fed up with his antics, Jesper’s father, the Postmaster General, basically exiles him to the town of Smeerensburg which is situated somewhere around the arctic circle with a seemingly impossible ultimatum – to deliver letters in an atmosphere of outright hostility.
In an attempt to get out of the battle-riddled, hostile town, Jesper happens upon a mysterious carpenter by the name of Klaus, voiced by J.K. Simmons, who lives in a cabin filled to the brim with handmade toys. With an irritable and unlikely ally, in the form of a local school teacher, by his side Jesper inadvertently sets off on a journey to deliver toys and bring about a change in his new surroundings.
Thanks to Spanish filmmaker Sergio Pablo (Despicable Me), Netflix’s very first animated film has a feeling very unlike the usual clean, polished atmosphere of a typical Disney-Pixar film, with hand drawn characters and scenes reminiscent of traditional woodcuts. The atmosphere at the start of the movie has an almost Tim Burton-esque feeling to it thanks to the character design and muted scenery which evolves throughout the movie.
This film amuses with lively characters like a sarcastic boatman, an irritable school teacher turned fish seller, and creepy kids. And if you find yourself trying to guess at the oddly familiar voices coming out of the mouths of the sometimes loveable, sometimes despicable characters, keep an ear out for the likes of Joan Cusack, Rashida Jones and Norm Macdonald among others.
The reason why I so enjoyed this movie, despite disliking Christmas movies in general, is thanks to spin they’ve put on the story of Santa Claus. His origin story is convoluted to the point of being unidentifiable, and though the word “Christmas” is mentioned, “Santa Claus” or “Father Christmas” never is. It obviously has its more expected scenes, because it is after all a Christmas movie, but it hits you in the feels with some perfectly timed emotions and humour as well.
Although no doubt created for a younger audience, Klaus is sure to entertain an older audience as well.
Klaus has received phenomenal reviews from the likes of Rotten Tomatoes scoring it 92% and a 8.3/10 from IMDb.
You can watch Klaus on Netflix, and if you haven’t yet checked out the trailer, you can do so here: