Klaus (2019) Review

By Daniel Hart
Published: November 13, 2019 (Last updated: December 30, 2023)


Klaus is the Christmas film Netflix needed; full of festivity and an underlying message that involves empathy and kindness.

We review the Netflix animated Christmas film Klaus (2019), which does not contain any significant spoilers.

Netflix loves the Christmas genre, and I’m confident that in 2019, the titles have increased in volume. Some are hit and miss. Some bring heartwarming family feels. After the release of Let It Snow, Netflix is throwing another seasonal movie at us in the form of Klaus. 

Klaus (2019) Review and Plot Summary

Klaus is the alternative origin tale that no one asked for, but it’s clear that we wanted. Santa Claus is written in many stories and arrived in many forms, but Klaus is wonderfully creative about it, without making it too sweet and soppy. All the elements of what Christmas is meant to be about for the children feel accidental, not magical, and that’s one of the major strengths of the Netflix film.

The story follows Jesper (voiced by Jason Schwartzman), who is extremely selfish and arrogant and works for his father’s Postal Service. Jesper does not take the training seriously, so his father punishes him by sending him to be a postman in a faraway, miserable snowy place. His target is to deliver 6,000 letters in a place called Smeerensburg, which ironically does not entertain a postal service. Jesper’s life takes a turn in this depressing town when he meets toymaker Klaus (voiced by J.K. Simmons).

Putting aside the sentiment, Klaus is well crafted, introducing a character that is easy to figure out — it’s obvious that his selfish attitude is created to be unpeeled as the film strengthens in the middle act and becomes a Christmas story. Klaus is merely about kindness — how a simple act of gratitude to one person can spark another. How favors can melt feuds and bring people together.

Of course, beneath the underlying message, Klaus slides in Christmas references to uphold an origin story. The first time Klaus laughs it is “ho-ho-ho” and Jesper has to slide down chimneys in order to deliver his parcels. The references are part of the story and engineered in moving scenes rather than cornily added to stick out like a sore thumb. The writers have evidently thought about how Klaus can be a film about Santa, without it being a film about Santa, thus becoming a powerful story in itself.

Is the 2019 movie Klaus good?

Klaus is funny too — when Jesper first arrives in the disheveled town, he is met by groups of people ready to fight at any given moment. The Netflix film plants a privileged character in a dysfunctional degenerate community that corrupts his idea of what life should be about. It’s a real “rich boy meets real world” type narrative that I feel audiences will enjoy.

As always with Christmas films, if you enjoy this season, you will enjoy Klaus regardless, but it’s a genuinely enjoyable Netflix film anyway, which can only be a good thing in the lead up to the holidays.

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