KLAUS (NETFLIX) (2019)
SYNOPSIS: When Jesper (Jason Schwartzman) distinguishes himself as the postal academy’s worst student, he is stationed on a frozen island above the Arctic Circle, where the feuding locals hardly exchange words let alone letters. Jesper is about to give up when he finds an ally in local teacher Alva (Rashida Jones), and discovers Klaus (Oscar® winner J.K. Simmons), a mysterious carpenter who lives alone in a cabin full of handmade toys. These unlikely friendships return laughter to Smeerensburg, forging a new legacy of generous neighbors, magical lore and stockings hung by the chimney with care.
Pardon us for being fashionably late for this review. Four months to be exact. Klaus was released nearly a month on Netflix before Christmas and it has since netted plenty of awards including being nominated for an Oscar although sadly, it lost out to Toy Story 4 in the end.
To be frank, Klaus is definitely a breath of fresh air in terms of technical accomplishment, artistry and story wise.
Co-written by director Sergio Pablos, Jim Mahoney and Zach Lewis and produced by Pablos’ very own SPA Studios in Madrid, Klaus is basically the alternate origin story of Santa Claus. It all started with Jesper Johansson (Jason Schwartzman), the spoiled and lazy son of a wealthy Postmaster. In order to toughen him up, Jesper is sent by his father to a distant town of Smeerensburg to run his own post office. He is given the task of posting six thousands letters within a year or risk being cut off from his family fortune.
But the town of Smeerensburg is run by two warring families, the Ellingboes and the Krums who spent day in and day out squabbling and brawling. In the end, Jesper has no postal customers but with the help of a mysterious old man, Klaus (J.K. Simmons) and a fishmonger cum ex-teacher, Alva (Rashida Jones), perhaps Jesper can manage to turn things around in the end.
Klaus is a beautiful movie that is equally playful and heartwarming. It’s a story that will resonate with both adults and children if you are sick of A Christmas Carol, The Nightmare Before Christmas and The Grinch. Kids will love how Jesper lure the town kids to the post office with Klaus’ presents and adults will be touched by the reason behind why Klaus became a recluse.
The full-length animated feature has no lack of cute or memorable supporting characters, there’s an adoring girl who only speaks Saami and a sarcastic ferryman who always appear to mock fun of Jesper. And there’s the creepy looking Mrs Krum (Joan Cusack) and Mr Ellengboe (both looking like castaways from a Tim Burton animation) who is always out to create trouble for Jesper and Klaus. There’s also this very imaginative, exciting chase sequence in the finale that will bring joy and smile on your face.
Pablos who has worked previously in Disney animations and most recently, the Despicable Me series has created an animation that will endear many in years to come. Without a doubt, it’s an animation that is willing to take risk with its animated visual style. It’s funny, heartwarming, an absolute reminder that without Netflix, we probably be stuck with Toy Story 5 or How To Train Your Dragon 4.
Review by Linus Tee