A long time ago, director Sergio Pablos set up an animation studio in Spain, in his homeland. He had worked for Disney in the 90’s, on such films like Hercules and Tarzan as an animator. He believed in 2D animation still, and didn’t want to make CGI movies, so he decided to focus his studio on just that. 2D, hand drawn, animation, but with upgrades from the technical side to make other parts easier.
And from his mad, Amish brained body came the movie Klaus.
They wanted dynamic backgrounds and characters, and not just one or the other. They wanted to capture the magic of animation again and really pour their heart and soul into the picture.
And hey, if you want to capture magic, why not start with a little bit of Santa action?
Pictured: A little bit of Santa action.
Jesper (Jason Schwartzman) is a piece of work, I tell you what. He has lived a privileged life, his father in charge of the post offices around the world, and he hasn’t had to do much. So when he is put into the postman program for training, he doesn’t take it seriously and he slacks off. Despite this, his father still decides to send him to Smeerensburg, a tiny island far, far North, away from everything.
Jesper’s goal is handle at least 6,000 letters within a year, in the city or our of the city, and get the post office up and running. It sounds bad, but it is actually worse than he imagined. In this city, very few people are out and about. In fact, they are a town known for holding grudges and fighting.
There are two ruling families, the Ellingboes and the Krums, who have been fighting for decades, and won’t be nice at all. This means they don’t go to school. They don’t do nice things. They don’t frolic down the streets. And they definitely have no need to send any letters.
Well, thanks to circumstances, a child’s picture makes its way to Jesper and the lone woodsman in his cabin (J.K. Simmons), who decides that the picture needs a gift. So he demands that Jesper deliver the child a toy that he has created.
This spreads throughout the village kids, and they also want to make letters for toys. This is a good idea, thinks Jesper, this will get him back home to his luxury.
Pictured: Not home in his luxury.
Klaus blew me away on so many levels.
The first, worthy of talking about, is the animation style. It was a breath of fresh air! Much like how Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse changed the animation game last year, from American movie releases, Klaus is doing the same thing. The traditional 2D animation is so gosh darn full of visual pleasure that every frame feels more than a painting. The backgrounds, the characters, the details, everything is so full.
The story, a re-imagining of the story of Santa, is also a lot more unique. It isn’t a guy just trying to bring toys to kids who banned fun, or whatever those older stop motion cartoons said. It is creative, so despite hearing about Santa all my life, it was refreshing to see a new take on it. A legit, new take.
The voice acting was really well, although Schwartzman sounded liked David Spade at parts of the film (probably just because of MacDonald’s voice to get me in that 90’s SNL mood).
This film had a lot of darker moments early on, and so the transition from dark to gushy Christmas spirit was a nice and welcome one, instead of starting high and Christmas and leaving us sick of it. This feels like a new holiday classic to me. Something that can pair nicely with A Nightmare Before Christmas.
The only way it could be better is if it was a musical as well. Or maybe not. I’ll take it the way it is.