It’s the Most Wonderful Movie of the Year
Review of Klaus
The Streaming Wars has began with the arrival of Disney+ (literally no one cares about Apple TV+), and everyone’s jumping at the chance to dunk on Netflix, the streaming service that started it all. I get it, many people directly link Disney to their childhoods and want to bask in the warm glow of nostalgia. However, my childhood is more closely linked to the Ninja Turtles, He-Man, GI Joe, Thundercats, Voltron, Ghostbusters and the like, properties that Disney (thankfully) doesn’t own (or at least not yet). The arrival of Disney+ really didn’t mean much to me, outside of morbid curiosity, and with reports that customers’ accounts are already being hacked and sold, I’m glad that I won’t be joining the service anytime soon. The fact that the term “Disney Plus and thrust” now exists is enough of a reason to stay away. So while everyone else is proclaiming that they are canceling their Netflix accounts or writing opinion pieces about if Netflix is still worth it or not, I’m here to tell you that yes indeed, you should keep your Netflix account, just in case.
Obviously with Disney creating its own streaming service, the children’s section of Netflix would become a tad lacking, but thankfully, Netflix is going to fill that void with its new deal with Nickelodeon, for those of us like myself who are more nostalgic for the glory days of the “first network for kids.” But if daydreaming about old programming from the 1990s isn’t your thing, and you just want a well animated and heartfelt movie that the whole family can watch, Netflix has that for you, too. Yes, that’s right, while Disney traditionally has a chokehold on all things “family friendly entertainment,” there are gems out there that are equally high in quality as anything the House of Mouse makes. And considering that all the House of Mouse makes these days are remakes and reboots of their own properties or properties they bought, someone needs to step up and create something original for a change. Which is why I’m glad (nay, grateful) that Netflix has released what I consider to be the best animated movie of this year in Klaus.
Produced by SPA Studios, Aniventure, and Atresmedia Cine, and written and directed by Sergio Pablos, Klaus is a movie destined to become a holiday classic alongside the likes of It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Home Alone, Love Actually, A Christmas Story, and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Yes, that might seem like hyperbole, but I assure you, it is that good. The story is of Jasper (voiced by Jason Schwartzman), the privileged heir to a wealthy family, who has been forced by his father to work for the postal service. He fails on purpose in hopes of returning home, but instead, his father has him sent to the distant, arctic town of Smeerenburg, and given the lofty goal of delivering 6,000 pieces of mail. If he refuses or fails to meet this quota, he will be cut off from the family fortune. Upon his arrival, Jasper learns that the town has long been suffering from a feud between two families, the Krums and the Ellingboes, leaving everyone in less than civilized circumstances. With no mail to deliver and being stuck in a freezing cold environment, Jasper feels he is doomed to failure. However, during a chance encounter, he meets a reclusive toy maker named Klaus (voiced by J.K. Simmons), and together, they set out to bring positivity back to the hostile people of Smeerenburg.
Much like with Santa Claus: The Movie, Klaus is designed to be an origin story of how the myth of Santa Claus came to be. As Jasper and Klaus perform small good deeds throughout Smeerenburg, aspects of the Santa Claus mythos are formed. Concepts like Santa entering homes through the chimney, that he enjoys cookies and milk being left out for him, that he gives lumps of coal to naughty children, and that he rides around in a shed driven by eight reindeer. It all comes together quite nicely and cleverly. But there is much more to this movie than the creation of everyone’s favorite holiday mascot. There’s also the glorious artwork and animation. “Every frame is a painting” is the best way to describe the look of the film. While the characters’ appearances are exaggerated for effect, all of their surroundings are beautifully designed as if they are part of a painting that has come to life. In this day and age of lazy animation, where everything looks as though it was drawn by grade school children, it was a breath of fresh air to see an animated feature that was made by grown artists with actual talent, and who put time and effort into their craft. It is a feast for the eyes.
Although where Klaus is the most powerful is in its messaging. Above all else, the story is about how an unselfish deed can go a long way. It’s the most obvious theme, as its mentioned point blankly every now and then. But there are other messages more subtly hidden within the actions of the characters, such as the importance of education and community, that it is best to let go of old grudges, and that people’s attitudes towards life can be changed. In other words, it’s all about the true meanings of Christmas. And if that weren’t enough, the movie will also “hit you hard in the feels,” as the kids say these days. The Klaus character is given a tragic backstory that explains why he spent his time creating so many toys and why he became a recluse. It will melt the heart of the most jaded person.
There’s not much I can negatively say about the movie. Younger children might not understand some of the visual jokes or spoken humor, but there’s nothing wholly inappropriate for them to see. There are some scenes that might be a little too scary or filled with tension for them, but they are quickly followed up with comedy to lighten the mood. Other than that, this is a movie that all ages can enjoy. I read that writer/director Sergio Pablos once worked for Disney, and much like Don Bluth, he took what he learned and used it to create masterpieces of his own that should be admired for generations to come. And we’ll forgive him for creating the Despicable Me franchise and filling up store shelves with endless supplies of Minions merchandise.
Overall, I give Klaus the coveted five out of five stars. Yes, I’m sure that’s not surprising, considering how much I have gushed over this movie for this entire review, but I believe it was earned. If there was any justice in the entertainment world, this film will win everything at the Annie Awards, and recieve Best Animated Picture at the Oscars. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a world with a just entertainment industry, as Disney rules over it with an iron fist, and the pointless, cash grab sequel that was Toy Story 4 will probably win instead (do you like how this article went full circle like that). With that being said, do yourself a favor, and stream Klaus on Netflix, anytime between now and Christmas Day. Make an annual tradition out of it, if you can. That concludes this fanpicked review. And remember, when it comes to the media that you consume, be like Indiana Jones, and choose wisely.
- Spectacular animation.
- Teaches important life lessons and morals.
- Will emotionally tug at your heartstrings.
- Some younger children might not understand the humor.
- Some scenes might be too scary for younger children as well.
Verdict: ***** (five out of five stars).