Netflix is like a mixed bag. They produced such great contents but on the other side, they produced an abomination of bad content as well. “Klaus” belongs to great contents and I love it too when American tries to use traditional hand-drawing animation. Because most American animated movies always used modern technology. Laika is also one of the prominent examples of great studios who still used a traditional way in their animation. However, this movie is like a charming gift in Chrismas, although the movie retold and deconstructs back the origin of Santa Claus in most of the unique ways.
“Klaus” is about a postal academy student, Jesper (Jason Schwartzman), getting banished on an isolated island out of nowhere. His father sent him to work thereafter he was lazy and his work was bad. In the end, his father sent him in Smeerenburg, a city where there was a dispute between two clans. To be eligible to go home, he must be able to send six thousand letters within one year. Smeerenburg is a cold, depressing yet horror city. The Krums and the Ellingboes are just two clans that remain hostile, a tradition from generation to generation.
Jesper, who initially complained about this work, had to be able to trick these people into sending a letter. He must be able to invite them to make letters, write letters, and mailing letters to achieve his freedom. However, he never succeeded. One place in the woods lives one of the people named Klaus (J.K. Simmons), the toymaker. After the two of them met accidentally, Jesper had an idea and used Klaus for his work. He first tricked the children by sending a toy if the children wanted to send a letter.
From the mutual but cynical relationship between Jesper and Klaus gradually became friends. And the legend of how Santa Klaus was born from here, where everything becomes dark turn into light. Jesper also found a schoolteacher, Alva (Rashida Jones), who also had a motive for getting out of the city and island. Throughout the days, day after day, month after month, Jesper, unconsciously, changed the city to become even more peaceful.
“Klaus” is a fantastic movie like most of Netflix original movies in general. But, if they stay like this in the future, I’ll like it even more. Sergio Pablos, the writer-director, puts our protagonist in the corner of the room. This movie has its charming moment but most of them are played as slapstick. Jesper’s progression from a brat and manipulative guy also works very satisfyingly. He turns into someone who often complains of being someone who learned a lot after living on the island for one year. He came with a depressed face but came home with a depressed face.
Most of the modern animated films, especially American, always work awkwardly, are more relatable, and are more focused on wordplay. The traditional way of how comedy works through editing, gags, exaggerated, and visual, was gone. Unfortunately, “Klaus” not only used a traditional hand-drawn, but most of the jokes have a classical vibe to it, like watching old charming Disney movies or every Looney Tunes cartoon. Yeah, the jokes also still used wordplay as Bugs Bunny can always spit it out. But, this movie used a traditional way of conveying jokes. Like the running gags where the everyday life of two clans works or the first introduction of the Alva sequence where she just “sells fish” in her school. Get it, “sell-fish”?
The animation is looking more like a cartoony on a holiday where I always watch it on Sundays. There is despair in specific parts and there are also charming parts as well. The spark and the lighting are great. The design characters are also memorable. The hand-drawn animation is indeed impressed like Walt Disney’s traditional cartoon. One of them being “Tarzan”. The influence was there and you can say enough if only this is like watching Disney fantasy animated movie. Yeah, we just don’t need modern technology to make a spectacular animated big-budget movie. We still have a traditional way, a hand-drawn technique and this is what I love about animation. The landscapes, the sketched painted, the landscapes, the movement of characters; you see, 2019 isn’t a bad year, to be honest.
Indeed, this movie seems not aged well when it has reached more than 10 years. A story about a selfish person learns about each other’s care is just a cliche story with a predictable ending. And I’m pretty sure that high-five in the 19th century isn’t normal. Or has high-five been discovered in that century? Then, who found it? The romance part between the protagonist and Alva is out of the place. I think if there were a build-up and chemistry between them, but the movie just places like, which like there isn’t enough place with this element. And yeah, you also didn’t forget about the pop songs. Can’t forget about those.
If only, people treated animation like this, it might be able to change people’s mindsets about animation. Slowly, they will be interested in animation. Sergio Pablos’ “Klaus” is one of the few examples of how animated combines a traditional way with more modern sense on it. It takes the quirky introduction of Santa Claus, it’s fun, imaginative, fresh, interesting, one of the best Netflix has produced this year. I hope after this movie, there will be plenty of animators who can make, and use the traditional way, a variety of animation. The animation is not just for kids and it’s a part of what medium can affect its mainstream pop culture.
4 out of 5 stars.