Netflix has produced a feel-good gem, their first full length animated film, right on time for the Christmas season. Klaus offers a completely different take on the Santa Claus story. No matter what name we might call him, whether it be Santa Claus, Kersvader, Father Christmas or the casual Santa, he plays quite a big role at Christmas. There have been many versions of his story but, after doing some cross-checking in the archives of the North Pole, this one seems to be fact.
Klaus tells the story from the point of view of Jesper (voiced by Jason Schwartzman), the son of the Postmaster-General, who is coasting through the Royal Postal Academy. Jesper is living large: breakfast in bed, silk sheets and wealth. The rich postmaster is tired of his layabout son and gives him an impossible task; go to the remote, grey town of Smeerensburg and process 6000 letters. If he does not manage his task he is permanently cut off from the postal wealth.
With no option, he makes the arduous journey to this remote location while meeting a snarky boatman (appropriately voiced by Norm McDonald), who introduces him to the feuding residents of the town. The Krums are spearheaded by a matriarch, voiced by Joan Cusack, and the Ellingboes are led by a patriarch, voiced by Will Sasso. Because of the constant fighting, there is no mail. The children don’t go to school as they are too busy terrorising their neighbours. Empty schools result in a teacher, Alva (voiced by Rashied Jones), using the empty school to sell fish. Her goal is to get out of the angry town.
Jesper, freezing in his new residence and missing those silk sheets, seems to have given up on getting anyone to mail a letter when a child’s sad drawing manages to magically land onto the premises of a woodsman and amazing toymaker, Klaus (voiced by J.K. Simmons). Klaus recruits Jesper to give the newly crafted toy to the sad little boy. Jesper soon realises that if he gets the children to write letters to Klaus for toys he can make his target.
The Santa mythos, or fact, depending on who you speak to, is nicely incorporated in various parts of Klaus. The creation of the naughty list is depicted, as is the concept of flying reindeer, the HO HO HO belly laughter, and, of course, the iconic red suit. The film also has a very different look to what we are seeing currently in cinemas, as it brings the return of 2D animation. And it’s this hand-drawn animation that adds to its traditional charm.
Klaus brings a unique spin to the Santa story. Sure, it is not knee-slapping funny but it is heart-warming and one of the main themes it portrays is that the true act of goodwill always sparks another. And seeing that this is the season of goodwill, what better movie to watch with the family at Christmas.