/ Articles / ‘Klaus’ delights; sparks joy in visually stunning holiday treat

‘Klaus’ delights; sparks joy in visually stunning holiday treat

November 22, 2019 by Kayla Houp

A true act of goodwill always spark another.

This is just one of the many quotable themes at the heart of Netflix’s most recent — and first animated — original movie “Klaus.” 

‘Tis, after all, the season (well ... almost, anyway) to curl up with blankets and a mug of hot chocolate and settle in for all the fun, festive, and feel good movies to really bring that holiday spirit to life; and ‘Klaus’ is sure to spark that joy.

Released on Nov. 15, “Klaus” is written and directed by Sergio Pablos and follows Jesper, the selfish son of a high-ranking official in the postal business who distinguishes himself as the worst student in the postal academy.

As punishment, Jesper’s father stations him in Smeerensberg, a cold and isolated island town populated by feuding families, with the task of mailing 6,000 letters in a year.

While Jesper struggles to adapt to a life bereft of luxuries and wealth, he meets a reclusive toy maker and hatches a plan that serves as the catalyst for an unlikely origin for holiday cheer and the birth of traditions.

There are so many wonderful and incredible things I could say about “Klaus” because it is truly one of the marvelous films I’ve had the pleasure of watching all year. This film is absolutely beautiful, with stunning animation and imagery that adds a whole new depth to the film.

In “Klaus,” Pablos, who worked on films including “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and “Treasure Planet,” returns to hand-drawn 2D animation in “Klaus” and incorporates technology typically used in CGI, such as volumetric lighting and texturing that gives “Klaus” a storybook look fitting a Santa Claus origin story.

“Klaus” attempts to not only capture the essence and need for kindness in everyday life, as well as the holidays, but also touches on the nuances of tradition, breaking away from the old and starting anew.

Another one of the film’s strengths is its voice acting. With Jason Schwartzman voicing Jesper, J.K. Simmons as Klaus, Rashida Jones as Alva, and the talents of Joan Cusack and Will Sasso as the head of the Krums and Ellingboes, respectively, “Klaus” is a multi-faceted gem of an animated feature.

The townsfolk of Smeerensberg are part of two feuding families, the Ellingboes and the Krums, whose tradition of violence is topped off by daily battles in the town square announced by the Battle Bell. No one really knows where this tradition originated, but had just come to accept it as “the way things are.”

Yet, throughout the film, Jesper and Klaus inspire them to start setting aside their differences and abandon traditions that no longer serve them, replacing them with selfless acts of goodwill and kindness.

I could talk for days about how much I loved this film, how I’ve permanently added it to my holiday watching list, or how it is the only holiday film to date that has really made me genuinely smile while watching it (I could also just be a Grinch at heart, jury’s still out on that one), but it would still not be enough to get into everything that makes this film so joyful and fun to watch.

“Klaus” is a film about change and growth, about kindness and goodwill, and about surrounding yourself with traditions that make you happy and bring joy, over ones that don’t. 

Kayla Houp may be reached via email at [email protected]

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