Netflix’s animated movie Klaus presents a story about how and why Santa Claus started delivering toys on Christmas. Although this is cherished territory, the filmmakers and their cast and crew have cooked up a creative fairy tale that’s both amusing and thought-provoking. Major ingredients include: a reluctant postman; a grieving toymaker; neglected children; and a village torn apart by an age-old feud.
It’s encouraging that uplifting themes of redemption and the power of kindness anchor this excellent movie directed by Sergio Pablos, who also created one of my favorite animated offerings, Despicable Me. Happily, a quirky animation manages to hold our interest. Sometimes quite frightening, it also offers scenes of great beauty, especially certain snowy sequences and one lovely display of bird houses gently swaying while hanging from trees.
The story follows Jesper (voiced by Jason Schwartzman), a lazy and selfish son of a powerful Scandinavian father, who gets sent to Smeerensburg to be its official postman. He must make sure the Post Office is operating and receiving so many letters within a certain time period before he will be able to go home. Jesper’s father believes this task will help his son become a better person. Unfortunately, Smeerensburg is located faraway, even above the Arctic Circle, and the old Post Office is not only run down. It’s in shambles, just like the rest of the town whose inhabitants seem consumed by a feud between two families. This terrible situation has even impacted Alva (voiced by Rashida Jones), the school teacher, who no longer tries to teach the town’s children.
Things look bleak for Jesper until he meets Klaus (voiced by J.K. Simmons), a giant woodsman who scares him at first. But Jesper learns that Klaus has a soft heart for toys and kids. Plus, Klaus has a house full of toys he made himself.
Mr. Postman and great big KLAUS
entertain us while cleaning house.
These characters make quite a pair
in a movie that’s meant to share.
Animation and storyline?
Both creative and oh-so fine.
Intriguing voices help us feel
for cartoon people like they’re real.
At first this film looks mean and dark
but finishes with joy and spark.
So now we know how Santa starts
and why he lives inside our hearts.
“A single act of kindness always sparks another.” That quote from the film explains the motivation for massive changes in Smeerensburg and in Jesper.
I think Klaus ends up being a wonderful way to start the holiday season.
(Released by Netflix and rated “PG” by MPAA.)
For more information about Klaus, go to the IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes website.