Being an animation enthusiast, Sergio Pablos’ movie KLAUS has been on my radar ever since I saw its original teaser trailer years ago. Fast-forward to 2019, and suddenly NETFLIX has an official trailer out…which changed the original, charming British voiceover to a David Spade soundalike. Eek, I thought. This character just went from charming to obnoxious. But since we’re ditching Netflix in December, I vowed to watch it before our subscription ran out.
BOY WAS I GLAD I DID. I’ve been jonesing for a new Christmas classic for years (hence why I wrote A Gingersnap Cat Christmas), and now I’ve found one! Here are four reasons why:
- Gorgeous 2D animation. Yes, folks, that’s 24 frames-per-second of hand-drawn love oozing into your eyeballs as you watch. Juicy lighting effects were added to give it more of that 3D glow Hollywood’s indulged us in for some time. But 2D is king of my heart, and it’s done beautifully here.
- The story doesn’t feel like a suit dictated it to the studio. You know how in animation, sometimes you get that poop joke or that current pop culture reference and it just doesn’t fit with the world? Like someone stuck it in there because some suit required them to? This movie is void of that feeling, save for three pop songs that…well, while they’re okay, *I* wouldn’t have used them. (Perhaps that’s why they stick out so much to me.) KLAUS feels like it’s in its own self-contained world, and I stonking LOVE that, especially for holiday movies.
- Genuine reactions. In the beginning, Jesper (the postman) reacts to the weirdo nowherestown* world the exact same way I reacted to seeing his world. Exclaming the same things, staring wide-eyed at the psycho Addams-Family-esque kids stabbing carrots into snowmen bodies in the exact same way I was. I hadn’t realized how often in other movies I’d been watching character reactions from a mental distance, watching their “antics”, unmoved…until this.
- It’s got positive messages…without being preachy about them. It’s easy for Christmas movies to get schmaltzy; all fluff and light and ignoring how real people feel about things. The pendulum (especially for live-action Christmas films for adults) has swung far the other way, with cynical stories all about how awful the holidays are because you’re stuck with crazy family or commercialism or whatever. I think KLAUS hits the sweet spot of having realistic character cynicism and wariness…but also having characters having their hearts softened–in realistic ways.
It’s a movie of such superior story and animation quality (especially when compared to other contemporary big-budget AAA-studio efforts *cough*FROZEN 2*cough*) that it reminds me of another dark horse animation classic from years ago: THE IRON GIANT (released the year as Disney’s TARZAN). I was angry for a sec that KLAUS didn’t get a wide release in theaters (because it’s worthy of it), but then realized…families with kids who see this will probably stream it over and over…and I think that’s great, because KLAUS has just the kind of uplifting message everyone of us needs in our story diets.
Don’t let this movie pass you by.
To everyone at The SPA Studios: congrats on making such a terrific movie!
To Netflix: you’d darn tootin’ well better release it on Blu-Ray because I want to own this movie SO BADLY YOU GUYS.
*Seriously, this is the most bizarre, Halloween-ic town I’ve seen in a Christmas movie since Nightmare Before Christmas. I mean this as a deep compliment.