From director Sergio Pablo’s animation studios come his feature debut, a toy friendly feature animation that runs like a Santa Claus story. Serving as a fictional origin story to the myth of Santa Claus, the plot revolves around a postman stationed in a town to the North who befriends a reclusive toy-maker (called Klaus).
Jesper (Jason Schwartzman) comes from a wealthy family in the postal business, and is a selfish brat with no life ambitions whatsoever. When Jesper’s father puts him in the royal postal academy in an attempt to teach him that hard work pays and being from a rich family is not a shoo in to wealth, he deliberately distinguishes himself to be the academy’s worst student, and so his father comes up with another plan to teach him a lesson: he is stationed on a island above the Arctic Circle by his father, with the ultimatum that if he doesn’t post 6,000 letters in a year, he will be cut off from the family.
Jesper gets into the island’s town of Smeerensburg and is shown around by a sarcastic ferry boat skipper who tricks him into ringing a bell to start the reception, instead revealing that the town inhabitants hardly exchange words let alone letters; they are divided, feuding locals filled with anger, bitterness, hatred and animosity. Trying desperately to come up with a way to get the town locals to send letters, he notices on the map in his office a far off little establishment. Investigating, he finds a woodsman named Klaus (J.K. Simmons), with a skill of woodworking and a house with lots of handmade toys.
The film works in different ways, with charm of a different nature from those expected from the Disney studios. The film pays a little tribute to the Road Runner/Coyote cartoons in the segments where Klaus has problems with different deliveries – chased by chickens and other assorted animals; climbing up steps. Charm also occurs with play of the Santa Claus legend. Klaus delivers toys through chimneys unnoticed by the kids and love cookies. The wonder of young love: ‘the heart palpitations, the intense looks… ‘ are experienced by Klaus and the female schoolteacher (Rashida Jones).
The humour is strictly of the goofy type, more suitable for children but would also be able to grab a few smiles from adults. A lot of humour also plays to the Klaus story: “Do you still want to throw that snowball and be on the naughty list?” tells Klaus to a child. The film also reveals the origin of Santa Claus ‘Ho-ho-ho” laugh.
The villain of the piece is a hunched over old lady (Joan Cusack) with bad teeth. She is head of a warring clan. The town’s main two fighting clans have to create peace to destroy the peace of the town, to maintain their clan traditions.
The originals score by Alfonso G. Aguilar is impressive and the original song “Invisible” writer by Justice Tranter isn’t half bad either.
With a message like “An act of goodwill always sparks another…” it is hard to dislike KLAUS with its over-bearing charm and catchy cheer.
The animation is an original Netflix feature that opened beginning of November. It is still available on Netflix for the Christmas season. KLAUS turns out an over-feel good different version of TOY STORY.