Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: KLAUS (Netflix)

Hey, so it’s after Thanksgiving so you are probably looking for Christmas classics to watch with the family while they are still here for the weekend, exhausted from the bullshit that is Black Friday. While there are old reliable films such as Home Alone, The Santa Claus, It’s A Wonderful Life, White Christmas, Jingle All The Way, the bajillion adaptations of A Christmas Carol, and the classic claymation specials. Or if your family is just full of adults and you are into more sinister shit like Die Hard, some version of Black Christmas, Bad Santa or even the newer Better Watch Out, there is a new film I’d like to talk about on Netflix that was just released. Something that everyone, young and old, will enjoy, and that I think will end up being called a holiday classic in the next five years. It’s called KLAUS, and it is a more grounded, realistic take on how the whole myth and story of Kris Kringle came to be. It’s basically Santa Claus Begins, but with beautiful hand drawn animation that uses CGI lighting techniques to create an unique all new animated tale. It’s really something, the movie just keeps getting better and better as it goes along and deserves its emotional climax that I swear to God if you don’t have a lump in your throat, tearing up, or crying your eyes out at the end of it, you need a lump of coal in your stocking this year.

The film starts out with a post master general sending his self entitled spoiled brat son to a place far off north called Smeerensburg in a “make it or break it” deal: either successfully handle 6,000 letters in a year or be cut off from his lifestyle. When he gets to the town, it appears deserted but in actuality is invested by two groups of people that can’t fucking stand each other. There’s even a bell in the middle of town and when/if rung, they all come out of their homes to try to violently beat the shit out of each other (keep in mind, this is a family film so no one is actually really hurt and/or killed). Anyway, this spoiled brat postman eventually befriends a reclusive toy-maker, who feels bad for the children in the town that don’t have the hatred in their hearts the parents have for each other, and without spoiling anything else that happens in the film, the origin of the story of Santa Claus comes to light, albeit a bit more organically and realistically. There is of course more to the story, including a great comic relief gag about a woman that is a teacher at a school in town that isn’t used as a school, but as a fish shop, that all culminates in an hour and 36 minute tale that is magically funny, charming, heartrending, heartbreaking, yet hopeful and inspiring.

The voice acting elevates the film even more than the storytelling already does, with Jason Schwartzman, Rashida Jones, Joan Cusack, Norm MacDonald, the great J.K. Simmons, all providing excellent vocals to make all their characters come alive and not be one dimensional. Every emotional beat is earned, all wrapped into a giant incredible hand drawn animation package that you just don’t see anymore nowadays, but still wish you did. What is incredible is that Disney had nothing to do with this, this is Netflix’s first original animated feature, and they completely knock it out of the park. Their storytelling is so phenomenal, not even some of the best Pixar films have come close to matching Klaus’ wit and dexterity. I’m liking that my reviews have been shorter the past couple of go a-rounds, so I think I’ll end it here, and just say, Merry Thanksgiving/Christmas to all, and for those to all have a good night, cue this delightful film up to give your family nights some much needed holiday cheer.

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