There is an astounding number of films about Santa Claus. From the real-life inspirations to the completely fictitious Claus used to push consumer culture. He has been the choice subject for many Christmas themed films. In fact, a whole genre can be established based on this one singular figure. And, for Netflix’s first foray into original animation, they have chosen to start with the man who brings joy to all.
Klaus is a fictional retelling of the origins of Santa Claus. The story follows a lazy postman named Jesper (Jason Schwartzman). He is a spoiled rich kid who is being taught to value work. After failing postal academy he is sent to a remote location in the North to set up a successful postal service. What he is met with is the town of Smeerensburg, which can only be described as the city of Verona, but cold, bitter, and poor. Jesper unwittingly walks right into a lifelong feud between the Krums and Ellingboes who thrive on their petty war. Jesper is desperate to get the towns people to use postage, which leads Jesper into encountering the reclusive toy-maker Klaus (J.K. Simmons) as a last ditch effort. The encounter sparks an unusual relationship between the two, and forever changes the town.
The script was written by Zack Lewis and Jim Mahoney based on the story by director Sergio Pablos. It is a snappy, sweet, and funny tale with a ton of heart. Although it is very kid friendly, there is a maturity to the story that adults will surely appreciate. Paired with Pablos’ incredible animation, Klaus will easily become a hit with animation fans everywhere.
Pablos brings his experience working on Disney Renaissance films such as Hercules and Tarzan to bring to life a new traditionally-animated film. The animation in Klaus is a love-letter to the classic 2D animation that built an empire, and the results are a beautiful. Every frame feels as though a loving hand crafted every detail, which is a promising show of how the new school way of animation isn’t the only way to do it.
Klaus is a sweet and simple re-imagining of the story of Santa Claus. It offers many of the same lessons that previous films have taught, but that in no way diminishes the enjoyability of this delightful animated film. It is the kind of film that has you falling in love with animation all over again, and is the perfect gift for this holiday season. Sergio Pablos’ animation studio has a bright future ahead of them if they keep up with this nostalgic and innovative work.
Klaus streams on Netflix from November 15th
by Ferdosa Abdi
Ferdosa Abdi is a lifelong film student and aspiring film festival programmer. Her favourite genres are science-fiction, fantasy, and horror and her favourite director is Guillermo del Toro. She is madly in love with Eva Green and believes she should be cast in everything. You can follow Ferdosa on Twitter @atomicwick