“Klaus:” Netflix’s Christmas Present

It’s a buddy comedy and origin story all wrapped up in a beautiful bow

Movie+poster+courtesy+of+Netflix.+Modified+for+sizing.

Movie poster courtesy of Netflix. Modified for sizing.

Are you tired of all the “Polar Express” repeats, “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” variations and takes on “A Christmas Carol” that just seem to keep getting darker and darker? Netflix and SPA Studios is here to provide you with a brand new movie that’s sure to become the next Christmas classic. Set in a flamboyantly fictional 19th-century world where people still write letters, “Klaus” provides a delightfully fresh look of Santa Claus’ origin story through the eyes of someone you’d least expect—an entitled postman.

Obviously, with a combination like this, a buddy comedy is sure to come with both characters developing along the way.

Voiced by Jason Schwartzman, Jasper, a spoiled rich boy being forced to work at a remote village mainly populated by to feuding families, goes through a very “Emperor’s New Groove” humbling experience. Then Klaus, voiced by J.K. Simmons, goes from a cold, grieving woodsman to the jolly man we know and love today. These two partner up to make one kooky duo that play off of each other so well, they naturally bring the origin of Santa Claus to life with a great amount of heart and plenty of laughs along the way.

Jasper, working to trade letters from the town’s children with toys handcrafted by the woodsman fuels the legend behind all the iconic things cultures all over the world recognize from the Santa Claus mythos. With the workshop, the toys, the sled, the milk and cookies, the flying reindeer, the lists, the iconic laugh, the elves and, of course, the jolly man in a bright red suit himself, you watch it all add up with such character that even the coldest heart has to give at least a warm chuckle at some point through the shenanigans sprinkled throughout this family-friendly adventure.

Added to this is a colorful cast of characters that flesh out the rest of the world and provide a nice, fluffy backing to the legend. It’s a world that works against all of the characters living in it. Families stuck in a centuries-long fight, a teacher trying to escape a life in a town that refuses to learn, a sarcastic sailor with quick jabs, an acceptance of the town’s toxicity and a vibe that leans heavily on that of the cyborg from the Disney hidden gem “Treasure Planet.”

These characters and the world they live in work together to create a stellar stage to pass on the message, “A true selfless act always sparks another.”

In addition to this, animation fans will find a true Christmas present in this film. The funny thing is, though, Netflix was simply looking for more Christmas content, but got so much more in green-lighting its first animated feature film.

Then again, what else can you expect from Sergio Pablos? He’s the man who created the “Despicable Me” franchise and worked as a character designer and animator on various Disney Renaissance films such as “A Goofy Movie,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “Hercules,” “Tarzan,” and “Treasure Planet.” His work shines throughout “Klaus” with a storybook-like feel and an art style that’s reminiscent of the short film “Paperman.”

What’s really innovative in this film, though, is how in a creative world that runs on making movies more and more realistic with CGI, this film takes the latest technology to a 2D drawing board with one simple department added to the mix: lighting. Adding this to the movie’s mixing pot of aesthetics creates a look that both keeps up with the times and induces a heartwarming sense of nostalgia.

At the end of it, “Klaus” combines a brilliant take on the origin of Santa Claus with beautifully done animation to rekindle your love for the holidays and the magic it brings.