Animated films are a great way for the entire family to get together. Most of them (and especially the good ones) are heartwarming, entertaining and illuminating. For people with kids, it is a sure-shot way to keep them entertained and impart an important life lesson or two in the process. Klaus is well equipped to do all of that very well.
Klaus is a 2019 animated feature film brilliantly voiced by JK Simmons (Spiderman series, Whiplash) and Jason Schwartzman (Fantastic Mr Fox, The Grand Budapest Hotel). The film tells an alternate origin story of Santa Claus set in the 19th century and revolves around a spoiled young man (Jesper) who gets posted as a postman in the island town of Smeerensberg. Jesper is stuck in this hapless little town and his only way out is to process 6,000 letters. So on one of his trips searching for households that would want to post a letter, he chances upon a reclusive man (Klaus) who stays in a house full of hand-made toys. Jesper and Klaus form an unlikely partnership to deliver toys to kids who give written requests through a letter to the toymaker. Things unfold rapidly from here on out and changes take place in the wretched town that some factions are not happy about. How Jesper and Klaus overcome all this and in doing so cement the legend of Klaus is what the story is all about.
The story is simple and straightforward, but it is conveyed in the most beautiful manner. The writing blends all the folklore about Santa Claus into the narrative with such ease that you really want to believe all of it. From ‘one-horse open sleigh’ and ‘milk & cookies’ to ‘only good kids get a gift’, and ‘the magical flying sleigh’, every little thing is showcased with a high level of creativity. The visuals are an absolute highlight as Klaus uses traditional animation where each frame we see on screen is drawn by hand. There is definitely an old-world charm in watching non-CGI animation because there is a certain innocence that comes along with it. CGI does help to make some fantastic cinema, creating real and believable worlds out of thin air. However, sometimes fantasies need to be what they are, without making them real or lifelike. Fantasy films help us enjoy cinema the way we did when we were little kids, all gleamy-eyed and full of dreams. Almost like a hopeless romantic. Klaus is the perfect film to watch in this regard as well.
The film also offers plenty of takeaways for kids and adults alike. There are subtle and not so subtle hints towards the nature of politics seen in today’s world. This is something that adults will pick-up easily and it will add the required maturity in the narrative. Kids, on the other hand, are getting valuable lessons about friendship, helping thy neighbour, bullying and just being kind. It is unfortunate that we live in a world where ‘being kind’ is not a given, not even among kids. Overall, Klaus is a perfect entertainer that can unite your family to sit down and watch something together as one. It is available to stream on Netflix.