Every once in a while a movie comes out which feels intended for me. It’s like the creative teams are in my head and making something I’d love. Such is the case with the new animated film Klaus. By combining stunning 2D animation and a lovely Christmas story animator Sergio Pablos directs a film which is on its way to becoming an annual holiday favorite.
Santa Origin Story
Klaus tells a unique origin story of Santa Claus. From the marketing, I thought this version of Santa would be like the ‘tough with a heart of gold version’ we saw in Rise of the Guardians. However, that’s not the case. This version is wounded and grieving for his wife. He’s lonely but enjoys making toys for children and seeing the joy on their faces.
We meet Klaus (JK Simmons) through our lead character Jesper (Jason Schwartzman). Jesper reminds me a lot of Kuzco in The Emperor’s New Groove. He’s conceited, rude, ungrateful and very entitled. To try and teach his son a lesson, Jesper’s father sends him to work in a small town where he must deliver 6000 letters in a year or be cut off (the family fortune is in the postal business).
Jesper’s task is made all the more difficult by the town’s continual feuding, failure to educate their children and overall gloominess. They need a serious dose of Christmas magic!
There is nothing I enjoy more than a Christmas movie that focuses on the redemption of what appear to be lost causes. This is what Christmas with it’s religious origins is about. At it’s core, it’s a time of turning away from the world and becoming a new person full of love and kindness. Klaus doesn’t just give us 1 person redeemed but a whole town, and I felt almost all of them! You grow to love and empathize with these characters as they are brought out of their cold bitter hearts.
Stunning 2D Animation
It almost goes without saying that the animation in Klaus is stunning. Seeing 2D animation in a feature film is very refreshing but what impressed me the most was the animators use of lighting to convey tone and character development. The bitter members of the town are almost in black and white and as Jesper begins to change we see light pour upon his character. It’s a subtle but beautiful touch.
I also loved the geometric feel to the character designs. That doesn’t always work for me but in Klaus it added personality to the characters in a way usually reserved for stop motion animated films like Corpse Bride. It was such a cool, striking aesthetic for a 2D animated film and helped Klaus feel unique visually.
I know much of Netflix’s feature film offerings are less than appealing but trust me: Klaus is definitely worth watching. It’s both a beautiful animated film and a touching Christmas story. The perfect combination if you ask me!