Like the reliable radio station that plays nothing but holiday hits, insane lines at the malls and that pesky relative with unsolicited life advice, we can now count on Netflix to deliver at least one truly great Christmas movie each year. This year’s winner or at least the early favorite is Klaus, a movie so boundlessly endearing and emotionally heart-warming it’s the film version of a cup of hot chocolate after a bitterly cold day.
Seriously as chaotic as you might allow the Christmas season to be find 90 minutes to take this one in and you’ll be amped up and ready to take on the craziness of this wonderful time of the year.
Pampered postman Jesper (Jason Schwartzman) has finally annoyed his postmaster father enough that he’s giving him the tough love treatment. Jesper is sent to the desolate island of Smeerensburg where the inhabitants are hardly welcoming of strangers or each other.
Caught in the middle of a decades long family war, Jesper is baffled how he’s going to meet his father’s delivery edict since the residents prefer to deliver their messages with fists, knives or whatever else is handy.
Jesper’s fortune might improve after encountering a towering woodsman named Klaus (J.K. Simmons, Veronica Mars), who’s got a knack for making toys. With the help of former teacher turned fish supplier, Alva (Rashida Jones, Inside Out), Jensen might be able to turn Smeerensburg around with one true act of goodwill.
But Jensen and Klaus’ efforts to heal the town after appreciated by everyone namely the heads of the warring clans, Mrs. Krum (Joan Cusack, Let It Snow) and Mr. Ellingboe (Will Sasso), who’d rather make war than peace. Norm MacDonald has a fun supporting role as the sarcastic ferryman Mogens. Simmons was an inspired choice to play Klaus as he’s not the first actor you’d think of for the warm and jolly Saint Nick. Overall, the cast is the ideal mix of hard to mistake voices and those who can make the characters their own.
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I really liked the animation style for the film, which is the first traditional hand-drawn film to use volumetric lighting and texturing to provide the 3D look audiences come to expect from CGI animated films. Directors Sergio Pablos and Carlos Martínez López create a visual and feel similar to Frozen well coming off unique enough due to the lack of hand-drawn animation films in the CGI era.
The script, by Pablos, Zach Lewis and Jim Mahoney, is a clever origin tale on the Santa Claus mythos. It’s fun seeing how the various familiar elements like naughty kids get coal in their stocking or flying reindeer are played out in the film. It also has a simple and effective message of being nice and treating others like you want to be treated. That should be an easy concept for children to comprehend and it just might sink in for some adults as well.
Even with the encouraging message, the script has a good amount of humor with some nice laugh out loud moments. To further its case as a memorable soon-to-be Christmas tradition, it’s got a terrific original song “Invisible” performed by Zara Larsson.
Disney and Pixar have some strong entries in the animated film this year, but Klaus comes as a legit contender to win Best Animated Feature.
Rating: 10 out of 10
Photo Credit: Netflix