It’s that time of year and my first Christmas film of the year is this film, Klaus. Starring Jason Schwartzman, J.K. Simmons, and Rashida Jones Klaus gives audiences a new twist on the myth of Santa Claus.
This animated feature is directed and written by Sergio Pablos. Pablos has an incredible resume having worked on animated treasures like A Goofy Movie, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, and Tarzan to name but a few. Now in his directorial debut, Pablos gives audiences a new take on the iconic figure.
Santa Claus or Klaus?
When Klaus opens up audiences are introduced to Jesper (Schwartzman). He is our eyes into this weird and wonderful world. He’s sarcastic, narcissistic, and cowardly. He is squandering his father’s fortune and in his latest opportunity to find a purpose, become a postman, he fails once again. So his father sends him to Smeerensberg, to build a post office there, if he does not succeed then he will be disinherited. Terrified of this possible future he heads to Smeerensberg only to find what I can best describe as a village living in the purge.
On an almost daily basis, the two clans of the village are at war. This can range from simple vandalising to children literally sending old people to their doom in increasingly hysterical ways. Jesper is in dire straights until he arrives at the woodsman cabin. There he meets Klaus and from there the legend of Santa Claus begins.
He’s making a list, and he’s checking it twice
I was immediately taken by the animation style of Klaus. If you’re a fan of Pablos you will recognise this animation style. There is a familiarity with some of his characters that adds an odd warmth to it. This world is full of character thanks to the impressive cinematography and animation style.
For example, there is a transition from a map to the location on the map and the transition is flawless. Pablos and his studio Sergio Pablos Animation Studios went for a style that he believed would be the natural evolution of traditional animation. In my opinion it works, there are moments that are reminiscent of films like Beauty and the Beast and Treasure Planet two films the team behind this worked on. Easily the best part of Klaus is the production that went into it.
Another element that comes a close second to the animation is the film’s narrative. From the moment the first present is delivered your heart will melt and grow three sizes. You see the villain of the piece is the matriarch and patriarch of the two clans. They’re okay, nothing particularly special acting-wise.
What they represent is far more potent though, the heritage of hatred that has passed down from their family to all those around them. It’s great watching the innocence of children break down the borders of this village. The literal colour returns to Smeerensberg and it’s a subtle but impactful element.
From local hero to legend
Now to speak on the characters of Klaus, Jesper is your usual spoilt rich kid that learns what he needs to learn throughout the course of the film, nothing new there. You also have Alva (Jones) a teacher turned fishmonger who has lost all hope for the children until Jesper arrives in town and finally you have the titular hero, Klaus (Simmons). He’s amazing, he speaks little but when he does his words speak volumes. He is exactly what you want from your Santa Claus.
The plot is somewhat predictable once it kicks into its third act but the film has garnered such goodwill by then that I didn’t mind. And even though the plot can be predictable some of the risks they take are quite heartbreaking and deep.
I was surprised by Klaus. I went in simply looking for a good time, instead I got an addition to my Christmas viewing list. You all know what I mean, films you watch on the lead up to Christmas. Klaus is one of those films, reminding me of the renaissance of Disney films.
It’s a funny, surprisingly emotional story that will become an instant classic. Stay tuned to Scannain for more reviews and news.