Released: 15th November 2019
Seen: 1st February
Over the last year of this blog, I’ve done my best to see everything, in part so that when the time comes to do Oscar Predictions I’ll be able to say that I saw all the major films nominated. This was my intention from the start since I started reviewing specifically because I had somehow missed all the best picture nominees when La La Land won in 2017 (I turned it off after then, I’m sure they made a great acceptance speech). So now we’re a little over a week away and it turns out I missed a few films so I’m going to do my best to catch up on what I’m able to, starting with the animation nominees who I missed… and I now wish I had seen this one on its release so I could’ve started a Christmas tradition because it feels like the kind of movie that will be watched every single year by many people.
Klaus follows the story of postman Jesper Johansson (Jason Schwartzman), a Kuzco-esque character who lives for the finer things in life and doesn’t ever want to take any real responsibility for anything because responsibility is hard and boring. His father, however, has had enough of his sons’ layabout ways so he sends the ill-mannered postman to an island town of Smeerensburg where Jesper is tasked with delivering six-thousand letters within a year or else he will no longer get to live in the lap of luxury. Determined to avoid this fate, Jesper tries to get the local townspeople into the idea of posting letters… unfortunately for Jesper, the townspeople consists of two constantly warring factions who wouldn’t deliver a letter unless it was tied to a brick and ‘delivery’ was code for ‘throw through the window’. When Jesper stumbles upon a large man with a white beard and a penchant for making toys by the name of Klaus (JK Simmons), he figures out a way to use this to his advantage.
The animation of Klaus might be some of the most beautiful animation I’ve ever seen. A glorious 2D animated feature film that uses some incredible new technology to make it appear 3D, every frame of Klaus is a visual delight that’s unlike anything that has been seen before. The trick of appearing 3D is stunningly done through some of the best shadow work you will find in an animated film and the fluid motion of every character helps trick the viewers’ eyes. It’s the kind of animation style that you want people to steal and use because it’s so beautiful that I just want to see more of it.
On top of just being visually beautiful, it also uses the classic animation poses to perfection. Those grand exaggerated actions that made the old Warner Brothers cartoons such a joy to watch appear throughout here and it’s just brilliant. It’s timeless, it feels like this movie has always been around and we just happened to stumble upon it in the last year. The animation is so perfect that it feels like it’ll never age, we’ll look back on this in a decade and still be amazed by how flawless everything is. There’s animation from a few decades ago now that will make you cringe (go back and look at the original Toy Story sometime, I love it but that film shows its age in several spots) but this? The animation is so perfectly done that it’ll never age. It just feels like this film will have a visual shelf life so long that it’ll outlast us all.
The story of this film is also fairly timeless since it’s a “Town in trouble until the new person turns up” story, combined with an “Asshole needs to learn how to not be a whole ass” story. Combined it creates an engaging tale where you spend the entire time wanting Jesper to improve as a person, almost cheering when he starts doing something for selfless reasons. The almost cheering becomes almost sobbing when the town’s children, who were just copying what their parents did (as is often the case), finally start realising that being nice is a good idea and maybe they should try it more. Combine a great story with some genuinely hilarious dialogue, every element of this movie just makes you want to smile brightly from ear to ear with how genuine and sweet it all is.
From top to bottom, start to finish, this movie is a joy. A simple and sweet tale told with a perfect blend of comedy and pathos that engages the viewer almost instantly. Every joke, both verbal and visual, are delivered expertly and create a sense of sweetness and warmth that lasts throughout the entire film. The hardest thing about reviewing this film is resisting the urge to make the entire review “Is good, go see”, but that’s basically what all my thoughts can be boiled down to. Klaus is good. You should go and see it. I know I should’ve seen it a few months ago, it’s so charming that it would’ve probably ended up somewhere on my best list.