By Jackson Troxler
Directed by Sergio Pablos, Klaus is a remarkable Christmas comedy that can get anyone in the mood for the holiday season. With stunning animation, a charming plot, and colorful characters, the film has won the hearts of countless audiences and critics alike. No one should miss out on this noteworthy holiday film.
When a postman in training named Jesper (Jason Schwartzman) is deemed highly insufficient, the postmaster, who happens to also be Jesper’s father, assigns him to establish a post office in the isolated town of Smeerensberg. If he fails to accomplish this task, he will be cut off by his family, ultimately sending him into poverty.
After being given a horse and carriage, Jesper makes the excruciating journey Northward. He manages to meet a relentlessly sarcastic ferryman named Mogens (Norm MacDonald) who takes Jesper to Smeerensberg. The town appears quiet and decrepit upon arrival, though Mogens teases Jesper by insisting that “you should see it in the spring. That’s when those grays really pop.”
When Jesper is tricked into ringing a “battle bell” by Mogens, the postman discovers the majority of the town’s residents are members of two families named the Krums and Ellingboes, who have been in a bitter rivalry with each other since time immemorial. With the town’s only other residents being the aforementioned Mogens and a school teacher named Alba (Rashida Jones) who’s been reduced to selling fish, Jesper finds his father’s task of supreme difficulty in a town where the only message most townsfolk want to send is hatred.
Jesper spends weeks, if not months, in Smeerenburg, advertising his services to the town’s residents. Despite his efforts, the Krums and Ellingboes are insistent on harming each other through any means possible. This is especially true with the leaders of the two families, Mrs. Krum (Joan Cusack) and Mr. Ellingboe (Will Sasso), who provide guidance to their families and teach their children of the history of hatred shared between the two bloodlines.
When all hope seems lost for Jesper, he meets a mysterious woodsman named Klaus (JK Simmons) who expresses interest in delivering toys to the children of Smeerensberg. With Klaus’s aid, Jesper hopes to complete his father’s goal in spite of the town’s seemingly ancient hatred and, in the process, perhaps help improve the lives of its residents.
The characters are all charming and enjoyable to watch, whether it be from the seemingly endless reserve of irony provided by Mogens, the inspiration of Alba, the ruthless bickering conducted by the leaders of the two clans, Mrs. Krum and Mr. Ellingboe, or the heartwarming friendship that develops between Jesper and Klaus over the course of the film. Each character is bursting with personality and aids this film in establishing its unique charm.
The main appeal for many, however, will be the film’s animation. The film not only marks Netflix’s first primarily 2D animated film, but it also provides remarkable innovation for the artform. Pablos said that he wanted to “demolish the limitations we traditionally had with 2D animation.” His goal was accomplished by creating new animation techniques. The animators utilized techniques that have rarely been seen in other animated films, if at all. Much of the film’s lighting, for example, was made using tracking systems that were created specifically for the production of Klaus.
Klaus marks stupendous innovation for animation as a whole. Combined with its likable characters and heartwarming plot, it would be jolly of you to watch this unique film this holiday season.