Since the dawn of cinema, animation has entertained audiences with the ability of showcasing stories that wouldn’t be possible in live action. From the princess adventures of Disney to the whimsical lands of Studio Ghibli, animation is a medium of endless possibility.
Over the years, the animation industry has changed in significant ways. Originally, if one wanted to make an animated feature, the entire thing would have to be hand drawn. With advances in technology, the industry has transitioned to one that is dominated by computer generated graphics, thanks in part to companies such as Pixar.
While CG animated films can certain be good, there was a bit of magic that was lost with hand drawn films almost completely disappearing from the animation industry. “Klaus,” a new holiday film from Netflix, looks to not only bring a new spin on the tale of Santa Claus, but also reinvigorate the publics love for hand drawn animation.
Jesper Johansson is a rich, selfish young man who has lived a plush life as the son of a wealthy postman. Seeing how spoiled his son is, Jasper’s father sends him to a remote island in the Artic Circle with the goal of posting 6,000 letters in one year. If he fails to do this, Jesper will be cut off from the family fortune.
This might not sound like the plot of a traditional Christmas movie and that’s because it really isn’t. “Klaus” finds a wonderfully unique and creative way to tell the story of Santa Claus in an industry that seems to be losing the ability to tell new stories.
This is even more surprising when one finds out that the film’s director is Sergio Pablos, the creator of the “Despicable Me” franchise. Instead of a film full of annoying characters such as minions, Pablos creates one of the most beautiful animated films I’ve seen in years.
“Klaus” is a perfect example of why hand drawn animation is so special. The film is animated so beautifully that my jaw was constantly on the floor. Seeing as how the film was in development for years on end, its no surprise that its visual quality is top notch.
Not only does “Klaus” have beautiful animation and a touchingly unique story, it also has outstanding voice performances. Jason Schwartzman is great as Jesper. Watching him transition from a terrible person to someone who actually has a heart was not only fun, but believable.
J.K. Simmons gives a predictably great performance as Klaus, giving life to the tired caricature that is Santa Claus. Rashida Jones rounds out the trifecta of outstanding main characters in the film, playing Alva, a schoolteacher that has lost all hope in the town she lives. Between Schwartzman, Simmons, Jones and the rest of the voice cast, the film is completely devoid of bad performances.
While many might expect “Klaus” to be another cheesy kids film about Christmas, it has proven that it is much more. In all honesty, it might be the best animated film of the year and I sincerely hope the Academy takes notice for this years Oscars.
“Klaus” is most likely going to become a yearly watch for me whenever the holidays come around and, if you’re looking for something to watch this season other than “The Grinch” or “Rudolph,” “Klaus” is your best bet.