Netflix’s first animated feature is a new take on the story of Father Christmas, aka Santa Claus. Rendered in traditional 2D animation, it comes a year after last year’s lovable live action Netflix original, The Christmas Chronicles, which was a hard act to follow. And yet… Klaus truly is a Christmas miracle.
Jesper (Jason Schwartzman), a young trust fund type addicted to daddy’s wealth, is bumming around the family postal business — stamping only his reputation as a manipulative (yet likeable) slacker. That is, until dad suddenly ships him off to the faraway island of Smeerengsberg (way up near the North Pole), giving him exactly 12 months to turn the foundering Smeerengsberg post office into a real business — or be cut off from the family funds forever.
Jesper has his work cut out for him:Smeerengsberg turns out to be a horrible place full of feuding, suspicious hooligans, but the tricky heir eventually finds a way of getting kids to post letters – by writing to a Mr Klaus (gruff-voiced Oscar winner J. K. Simmons), an old toymaker, and asking him to deliver some to their house. How this idea turns Smeerengsberg into a place where people start doing nice things for each other (without even realising it), turns out to the be the story of Santa Klaus, his reindeer, the toys, the chimney, the ‘naughty and nice’ list, Santa’s helpers, and the hohoho. It’s all there. What’s interesting is the way everyone starts doing nice things for other people, but in a self-interested way. And it all works. Which is really the theme of the movie — kindness begets kindness.
Is Klaus a Good Movie for Kids?
Absolutely. My 11 year old loved the rickety outdoor toilet gags, the rancorous dogs, the way the story unfolds with plenty of mystery and suspense — plus the creepy, kooky characters. But he also understood the greater message and he liked it when the people started to become closer to their true selves.
I gave Klaus 5 stars for the old-school animation, the inspired characters – Mrs. Krum (Joan Cusack) and her feuding neighbour Mr. Ellingboe (Will Sasso) are hilarious – and the way this heartwarming story unfolds slowly. Maybe that’s why this movie, instead of coming off clichéd and cheesy, feels genuine and authentic. I had tears at the end.
Melinda J. Irvine
Klaus is now streaming on Netflix