Klaus (2019)

Every year, a new Christmas animated film sees the light of the day. And every year, although the story is different, the substance doesn’t really change and hence it feels like opening the same present only with a different wrapping paper. Netflix’s first original animated feature, Klaus, shies away from it as it is as refreshing and unique as it is heartwarming and emotional — arguably 2019’s best animated film. 

The story follows Jesper (voiced by Jason Schwartzman), the lazy and selfish son of the Postmaster General who is wasting his father’s fortune and every single opportunity that is given him. Disgruntled by his lack of motivation, rather than firing him, his father promotes him and sends him on the island and freezing island of Smeerensburg to take over the post office: if he doesn’t post 6,000 letters within a year, Jesper will be disinherited. 

Terrified to lose his wealth, Jesper is determined to get the post office running. However, after being brought to town by a sarcastic ferry boat skipper (voiced by Norm Macdonald), Jesper finds the post office completely run down, just like the rest of the town as it’s inhabitants are too busy being consumed by a feud between two families. Even Ms Alva (voiced by Rashida Jones), a teacher Jesper meets on his first day, has given up on the town and teaching altogether. 

Things take a turn for the best when Jesper meets Klaus (voiced by J. K. Simmons), a giant, white-beard reclusive woodsman, and Jesper starts using kids to get out of Smeerensburg. 

The story is one of Klaus's biggest accomplishment. While it is not entirely original and it's rather simple and predictable, it is a refreshing take on the Santa Claus origin story that answers most if not all questions surrounding his myth, providing a logical explanation to all — why does he use reindeers? Why does he travel on a sleight and why is it said to be flying? Why does he use the chimney? And how did he come up with the naughty list idea? —; furthermore, it manages to deliver some surprises along the way and entertain and engage from start to finish. 

It is both a coming of age tale — Jesper finally becomes a man — and a growing old one — seeing Klaus find a new purpose in life, happiness even, was heartwarming to say the least —, and it delivers both beautifully. 

It is a story that touches familiar themes such as kindness and friendship without ever being clichéd, and, most important, it shows how hate is instilled in children, by telling them to hate someone because of their physical characteristics.

The characters are a delight to watch. They all are memorable, even those with very little screen time able to leave a mark, and they really struck you because of how grounded and realistic they are despite the many fantasy elements in the story. Although he's a slacker, Jesper is a very likeable lead, his clumsiness making him kind of adorable, and Jason Schwartzman's voice work is fantastic — his attitude and sarcasm did often remind me of David Spade's Kuzco is The Emperor's New Groove though. The stoic and solitary Klaus is both a source of sadness and happiness and J. K. Simmons is a delight in this role — it was really nice seeing him, actually hearing him play a good character instead of his usual asshole. The supporting cast also does a good job — I especially loved Joan Kusack's humorous performance as Mrs. Krum, the old women leading one of the feuding families. My only complaint is that the female characters don't get the attention they deserved — both Alva and Margu, a little Saami girl who befriends Jesper, are criminally underused, their subplots completely unexplored. 

Comedy-wise, Klaus doesn't have to rely on ironic jokes to keep adults engaged — in the same way it doesn't need technology or another modern theme to engage kids; it is its blend of dark humour and simple yet effective jokes and gags that do the trick. 

What surprised me the most is the film's ability to be festive and sending a Christmas vibe with very little Christmas visual elements. The town of Smeerensburg, with its shades of grey, the family feuds and people making mischiefs one another, is the opposite of festive and yet Klaus feels like a Christmas film through and through. 

With all that being said, the aspect of the film that stands out the most is the animation. In an age ridden by computer animation, Klaus rocks a gorgeous hand-drawn animation with plenty of details, stunning locations, bright colours and beautiful characters with unique designs and amazing facial expressions. 

If you haven't already, please open Netflix and go watch this beautifully, heartwarming and touching Christmas film. 


  1. My son had watched this movie several times already but I haven't gotten a chance to sit down and see it with him. I think I will this weekend. Great review!

    1. Thank you! I'm so glad to hear your son loves it, and I hope you'll love it too.

  2. Oh I need to see this! I keep getting click-baity ads on Facebook claiming how amazing it is but you have to take them with a pinch of salt, sometimes.

    1. I usually avoid anything related to Facebook ads so you're not alone haha

  3. Excellent review! You certainly hit on all of the relevant points. I usually pass on most animated movies, but I am glad I watched this one. Regards, Goat from Ruthless Reviews (largest collection of Christmas Reviews on the internet)