(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)
The Series: Klaus
Where You Can Stream It: Netflix
The Pitch: When Jesper (Jason Schwartzman) distinguishes himself as the postal academy’s worst student, he is stationed on a frozen island above the Arctic Circle, where the feuding locals hardly exchange words, let alone letters. Jesper is about to give up when he finds an ally in local teacher Alva (Rashida Jones), and discovers Klaus (J.K. Simmons), a mysterious carpenter who lives alone in a cabin full of handmade toys. These unlikely friendships return laughter to Smeerensburg, forging a new legacy of generous neighbors, magical lore and stockings hung by the chimney with care.
Why It’s Essential Viewing: Truly great Christmas movies are hard to come by. Even some of the beloved holiday favorites that get played on TV over and over again around the holidays aren’t exactly of the highest order. We’re just a little more accepting of mediocrity with holiday movies because they bring warm feelings to our heart when it’s cold outside. But what if you could get those same warm feelings and have an enchanting story with beautiful animation and a fantastic voice cast? That’s where Netflix’s lovely Klaus comes into play, and it should be added to your annual holiday movie rotation.
Few movies have been able to tap into the mythos of Santa Claus in a meaningful, moving way. Miracle on 34th Street immediately comes to mind, and even The Santa Clause does something magical with the big guy that mixes well with Tim Allen’s sarcastic comedic antics. Klaus weaves a wonderful tapestry of kindness, understanding, and friendship, and it does so while creating a clever new origin story for Santa Claus.
With an animation style that has the aesthetic of classic 2D animation but with an artistic 3D touch, Klaus is one of the most stunningly animated movies in recent memory. It feels like it’s been sitting on a shelf for over a decade just waiting for 2D animation to make a comeback. The character designs alone are leaps and bounds better than a lot of animated movies today, especially when combined with the voice cast. Jason Schwartzman, Rashida Jones, and J.K. Simmons actually fit the look of each of their characters, something that has been getting harder and harder to come by as animation studios rely on big name talents instead of simply finding the best voice actors.
For all the holiday drivel that’s out there every year, it takes something extra special to add a new movie to your annual Christmas watchlist. But Klaus is not only worthy of watching every holiday season, it’s also an outstanding animated work that will hopefully get Spanish director Sergio Pablos a chance to create more beautiful stories like this in the future.
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