Santa’s origin story is something for both kids and adults.

I apologize for my late review of “Klaus.” Things have been tight with the mainstream movies and holidays, but I’ve managed to finally find the opportunity to see it on Netflix. I’m glad I did, because it’s one opportunity after another.

This animated feature has its own perspectives on how the myth of Santa Claus came to be. And it also takes risks in giving the drawings such attention to detail, it deserves to be seen. Using volumetric lighting, the movie combines computer animation with traditionally drawn characters. I was dazzled by their texture, and not just the people, but also the buildings, the woodwork, the inventive toys, and the snowy environments. 

Regarding the Santa Clause story, it involves Jesper (voiced by Jason Schwartzman), the spoiled son of the postmaster general, who sends him to Smeerenburg on Amsterdam Island, and requires him to deliver 6000 letters or be forever cut off. It becomes complicated as everyone is consumed by the power of feuds, anger, and mean-spirited humor. 

They’re basically divided in two groups: the Krums, all of whom have black hair, and are under the leadership of Mrs. Krum (voiced by Joan Cusack); and the Ellingboes, all of whom have red hair, and are under the leadership of Mr. Ellingboe (voiced by Will Sasso). This side of the movie gets really old and exhausting, because of how typical and routine the feuds have to be. It’s kind of like “Romeo & Juliet” in a sort of way.

But “Klaus” has its heart in the right place when we meet Mr. Klaus (voiced by J.K. Simmons), a woodsman with a room filled with homemade toys. Jesper decides that in order to get off the island, he tells the children to write letters to Mr. Klaus, and the big man himself takes him under his wing. 

The film was written and directed by Sergio Pablos, who served as a character designer for such animated features as “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and “Tarzan,” and was the creator of “Despicable Me” and “Smallfoot.” Here in “Klaus,” he assembles a team of professionals to give the film such an artistic form, it deserves a home on Netflix. And given that we’re in the CGI era, it’s very rare we get these kinds of tractional animated features crafted by computers. And I recall having a sense of awe with “The Peanuts Movie” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.”

The voice acting is eclectic, allowing Schwartzman to play the cynical and silly postman, and Simmons to give out his “ho, ho, ho!” And you also get some charming supporting characters from a grouchy teacher (voiced by Rashida Jones) to a sarcastic ferryman (voiced by Norm Macdonald), to an adorable Sami girl (voiced by Neda Margrethe Labba).

The set-up for the myth of Santa Claus isn’t as obvious as you would expect it to. It’s given patience and ambition, and never accuses him of being a jolly figure. He’s a disgruntled character, who reminds his new friend and himself about the joys of goodwill. The writing for these characters is kind and considerate.

“Klaus” is a Christmas movie that puts more effort in the Christmas spirit than a lot of recent holiday entries. Again, I’m sorry I’m a bit late, but I’m happy to share my review of this movie with you. 


Now Available on Netflix

Categories: Animation, comedy, Family

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