Klaus is the most surprising retelling of Santa Claus’ origin I’ve ever seen. It’s no secret that computer animation has left traditional animation all but extinct on the big screen. The goal of Spanish Disney alum Sergio Pablos was to bridge the gap between 2D & 3D. So he formed SPA Animation Studios. After years of development, the hand drawn look with computerized texturing ended up looking more beautiful than anything I’ve seen in the medium before. Of course no studio wanted to take the risk. Until Netflix came around to save it.
Klaus is honestly the film that should’ve won Best Animated Feature. I don’t call many new Christmas movies instant classics, so I was surprised by how much I loved it. Klaus does indeed offer an alternate version of Santa Claus’ origin, but this is actually Jesper’s story. He’s a spoiled rich kid whose postmaster father gives him a serious reality check. Forcing him to deliver letters as a postman for the unhappiest place in the North called Smeerensburg. Everyone fights because of feuding families and kids don’t go to school since the embittered teacher Alva sells fish.
The answer to Jesper’s letter problem comes in the form of burly woodsman Klaus. As Santa’s go, he’s a man of few words, but J. K. Simmons brings warmth to the recluse. Many clever Santa explanations are given. Whether it’s kids sending letters for toys, how he got his sleigh, used reindeer, or got his red coat from Sami people acting as elves. The explanation for why he makes toys is unexpectedly heartbreaking. It only strengthens the bond between the postman, toymaker, schoolteacher, the town, and kids everywhere on Christmas day. Klaus is a heartwarming modern Christmas tradition in the making.