Review: Klaus

Year: 2019
Runtime: 96 Minutes
Director: Sergio Pablos, Carlos Martínez López
Writer: Sergio Pablos
Stars: Jason Schwartzman, J.K. Simmons, Rashida Jones

By James Cain

Chances are you’ve got a few Christmas classics that you like to watch every year. Maybe you enjoy crime-capers like “Lethal Weapon”, “Die Hard”, or “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”. You might prefer holiday horrors with “Gremlins”, “Anna And The Apocalypse” or “Love Actually”. Or perhaps you go with family-fare such as “The Muppet Christmas Carol”, “Elf” or “Home Alone”. With Spanish animation “Klaus”, Netflix has released an instant festive classic for all the family, albeit with a lot of dark humour…

klaus

Introduced as an origin story for Father Christmas, Jason Schwartzman plays Jesper Johansson, the grown spoilt-brat son of a Norwegian postal magnate. Jesper’s lazy behaviour sees him sent to the northern island of Smeerensburg with a specific mission: Establish a post office and post 6000 letters or else be cut off from the family entirely. To make matters worse, upon arriving at the tiny, frozen isle, he finds that the sole town’s residents are waging a neverending war between two petty families, with little reason to send post to anyone.

klaus phoyo

The first thing that strikes the viewer about “Klaus” is the distinct visual style. Co-writer / director Sergio Pablos and the team at company Sergio Pablos Animation Studios, collaborating with Aniventure and other animation wizards, have created a beautiful look for the movie. “Klaus” is a hand-drawn animation using cutting-edge techniques, immersing you in this striking world while retaining a classic feel.

“Klaus” is a film with a lot of dark humour, particularly when it comes to the two warring tribes.

“The goal was to make it look like one of those gorgeous visual development illustrations that you see in those ‘The Art Of’ books after a film comes out,” Pablos told /Film. “We’re used to seeing those illustrations as part of the early production stages in a film before they get washed away during the production, so I wanted to keep that style.”

The script, co-written by Zach Lewis and Jim Mahoney, is similarly different from a lot of modern animation. “Klaus” is a film with a lot of dark humour, particularly when it comes to the two warring tribes. You get a lot of implied deaths and injuries, the schadenfreude often emphasised by the town’s children, their gleeful laughter a soundtrack for much of the mayhem.

klaus snow

There’s a lot of warmth too, though, with our anti-hero striking up an uneasy partnership with reclusive woodsman Klaus. Despite beginning with a hangman’s noose (a great little gag), their growing relationship is the backbone of the film, with Klaus’ development into Santa Claus – complete with deliciously on-the-nose origins for his reindeer, elves, outfit et al – bringing much of the film’s warmth.

The first thing that strikes the viewer about “Klaus” is the distinct visual style. Co-writer / director Sergio Pablos and the team at company Sergio Pablos Animation Studios…have created a beautiful look for the movie.

It’s also a film with clear moral, as our duo begin to collaborate with the local Sámi tribe. It’s immensely refreshing to enjoy a Christmas film with indigenous characters being the main part of the narrative, lending credibility to the film’s message of how important it is to spread kindness. Compare this to commercialist, consumerist bullsh*t like this year “Noelle”, and this is a film that’ll please a room packed with over-stuffed family members this Christmas.

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