For those of you who come across Klaus on Netflix and aren’t sure whether it’s worth it or not, you’re not alone. It’s a new animated Christmas movie this year with zero promotion. I opened Netflix looking for a holiday movie and spotted Klaus as one I’ve never seen before. I didn’t do any research and threw it on. I won’t say I regret it, but it’s a different kind of holiday movie.
The plot of Klaus is a spoiled son named Jesper gets sent to work a real job as a postman in a little town in the middle of nowhere. The town he goes to is dark, desolate, and filled with hate between two feuding clans. SPOILERS AHEAD Jesper discovers there is a man who makes toys on the outskirts of town if you send him a letter, and all the kids want something to brighten their day. The story ends up being a Santa origin story from Jesper’s point of view.
I think the character of Jesper can come off as somewhat annoying. He seems to be the most substantial connection to the film being a children’s movie. He is frantic, overly talkative, and somewhat childlike himself. Interestingly, the story is from his point of view, although he seems like he could be the buddy character in another movie. While Jesper’s screen time can seem like a detriment to the film, I am fascinated by every minute Klaus is on screen. Klaus is a side character and gets a decent amount of time, but I could have stood for more. The film alludes to there being much more to him than what we see, and I think limiting his screen time builds the mystery and suspense on revealing who he is and what the story becomes. So while I didn’t like following Jesper around, the movie hinges on it.
The animation of the movie is beautiful. It’s a little more dark and moody than usual for a holiday animated feature. It’s somewhere between the style of Paranorman and Frozen. This style adds to the mystery and mythology of the story. The movie not directly cheery and bright, but there are some shining moments. The landscape slowly transforms from a hollow shell into a bustling town during a holiday, so the impact of the excitement of the holidays becomes something visual. The animation style also serves to steer away from some children as the story isn’t for everyone.
The movie is rated PG, and I would say that’s for adult themes. Although at times during the beginning of the film, there’s some spooky imagery, nothing terrible happens. Instead of specific language or violence, some of the topics of the film will require explanation. Be prepared to talk about some of the characters’ motivations, Santa lore, and death. I felt that the movie was aimed more towards adults looking for a holiday movie with a new story. It can be enjoyed by all, but probably not without a discussion.
I think the movie is an intriguing tale that we didn’t ask for. I didn’t need to know who Santa was before he became the Santa we know, and I’ve honestly never even thought about it. I think the way the story unravels adds some mystery and darkness not expected when you put on a holiday film. There are parts of the movie that feel very Christmasy, some that feel emotional and Christmasy, and others that don’t feel like a Christmas movie at all. After the first 30 minutes, I wasn’t sure Klaus was even going to be a Christmas movie aside from the winter weather.
Overall, I would say I am glad I watched Klaus. It was entertaining, watching the story unfold. Although it didn’t blow me away or change my thoughts about Santa, it does offer some insight into a holiday legend. I wouldn’t suggest watching Klaus instead of The Grinch or even The Nightmare Before Christmas because it doesn’t have the same upbeat feel. I would say that if you want a new holiday story or don’t have any little ones, this could be an interesting December watch.