Film

‘Klaus’ is the only animated Santa focused film that has earned my Jewish respect

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Klaus and Jesper

In honor of a long year: I am reposting my review of “Klaus” from 2019 – with no edits

Christmas specials really aren’t my jam.

I’m Jewish. I don’t celebrate Christmas and don’t plan on ever having a tree in my home. And I really don’t get Santa and how he fits into the whole thing or how he’s become the main focus of the celebration. 

Like in Judaism, I can see the logical progression of how we celebrate our holidays. Most of them honestly haven’t changed too much. But I’m not stupid. I can see why Santa became a big draw, and why stories about how he works are popular. Even if for me, they’ve usually fallen flat.

Until I watched Klaus. Aside from the absolutely gorgeous animation style, this movie provides a wonderful backstory as to how Christmas as we know it came to be: through the work of a very unlikely duo.

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Beautiful animation

The story follows Jesper, the worst candidate at the postal academy and the son of the head of the postal service…He is spoiled, lazy and snarky. Think Kuzco. Only less obnoxious in the beginning. To teach him the value of hard work, his father sends him to the isolated island of Smeerensberg and tells him he must deliver 6,000 letters in a year or be cut off. Permanently.

And that’s no easy task. The two families that make up most of Smeerensburg’s population: the Krums and Ellingboes, have been feuding since the beginning of time. They want nothing to do with each other, and a lot of the kids don’t even write.

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In a desperate attempt to get at least a single letter sent, he journeys to an outpost where he meets the reserved and very, very big Klaus. Through a series of events, the two end up delivering a toy to one of the town’s children and the rumor quickly spreads that Mr. Klaus will bring any child a toy if they write a letter (partially pushed by Jesper).

To encourage more letters, Jesper gets the schoolmarm turned fish monger to open the school again and creates a system to deliver toys with Klaus. More and more kids begin to send letters and the pair’s shenanigans like Klaus throwing Jesper into the chimney and Jesper’s appetite begin to establish the Santa Claus myths.’

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Spreading the story

And the children’s desire for toys begins to change the town, much to the disdain of the village’s elders. Once Jesper convinces them that Klaus can watch them all the time and made the choice to give naughty ones coal (mostly a petty move on Jesper’s part), they begin to bond with each other and the adults begin getting along as well.

And as Christmas, (yes, Christmas already exists here) approaches, Jesper decides they need one last big hurrah and asks Klaus to make a bunch of toys to deliver to all the kids on Christmas morning. 

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I won’t spoil it, but if you’ve seen any movie where one characters starts doing nice things with a selfish goal in mind but begins to have a change of hearts and genuinely enjoys doing it…You know what comes next.

As the years go by, Klaus and Jesper keep expanding their operations. Then twelve years later, Klaus dies and his spirit is implied to become the Santa Claus, we know and Jesper is happy because he can still meet his old friend.

There is a lot I appreciate about the movie; I love how the build up the myths through the tall tales and imaginations of the children, I love Klaus’s backstory and motivation, I love the humor…When Jesper first meets Klaus, he’s convinced the man is an ax murderer and it’s hilarious…I love theme of the film and the humor is great.

It doesn’t rely on fart jokes or bad puns. There’s some genuinely funny parts and it doesn’t lag or focus too much on jokes. And a lot of humor comes from the interactions between characters, which is always important. And there’s one scene where Jesper is trying to convince kids to write letters that plays like he’s a drug dealer.

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The adorable Margu

And the movie also takes the time to include the Saami people; at first, it made me feel a little awkward. I wasn’t crazy about how they became Santa’s elves, but upon watching the movie a second time (Yes, I actually had time to watch it twice) I realized the motivations more clearly. And Margu, the tiny little Saami girl was a great character.

The scene of her riding her little sled was adorable and a great emotional moment for Jesper. It’s all very genuine. There’s none of that awkward crap about how the best gifts or handmade, or about how giving is better than receiving. It’s all about how one good deed leads to another.

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Christmas

Jesper and Klaus gave a gift and it makes other people want to do good things.

There is absolutely nothing to dislike about this film and everything to love. Most Christmas cartoons tend to be overly sappy or not very genuine when they mean to be. Of course, that could just be me. But this one is very sweet and absolutely timeless!

Please watch this new classic. It’s one of the few that matter. (The only other Christmas movie I truly enjoy is Elf.)

And thats the scoop!

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Score: 9/10

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Length: 96 minutes

Year of release 2019

Directors: Sergio Pablos, Carlos Martinez Lopez

Producers: Jinko Gotoh, Sergio Pablos, Marisa Roman, MAtthew Teevan, Mercedes Gamero, Mikel Lejarza, Gustavo Ferrada

Voice actors: Jason Schwartzman, J. K. Simmons, Rashida Jones, Joan Cusack, Will Sasso, Norm Macdonald

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If you liked this review read: The meaning of Chanukah…As told by the Rugrats.

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