Klaus – Review

Worth seeing: as a Santa Claus origins story, using an uplifting coming-of-age tale as an alternate take on an enduring Christmas story
Director:Sergio Pablos
Featuring:Jason Schwartzman, JK Simmons, Rashida Jones, Joan Cusack, Norm MacDonald, Sergio Pablos, Will Sasso
Length:96 minutes
Released:15th November 2019


Jesper (Jason Schwartzman) is training to be a postman – but he’s not training very hard. He’s an entitled brat whose dad runs the postal service and has finally had enough of his son’s laziness, so Jesper is sent to a far-reaching, frosty outpost of the country to run the local post office.

He’s told he can come back only if he delivers 6000 letters – but no-one on the remote island of Smeerensburg is remotely interested in posting – or indeed writing – any letters; most of them are too busy fighting an age-old battle between two local clans.

When an ageing toy-maker named Klaus (JK Simmons) finds a discarded note from a small boy, asking for help, he decides to send him one of the hundreds of toys that have built up in his shed – and he gets Jesper to deliver it.

Jesper realises that if he can persuade all the children to write to Klaus, he’ll give them a toy. The pair strike up an unlikely friendship – and before long, Jesper is approaching his target.

But the clan-leaders are keen to stamp out their arrangement, as the present-giving has made the locals less interested in fighting – and when Klaus runs out of toys, he doesn’t share Jesper’s motivation for making more.

Will Jesper manage to deliver enough letters to go home? Or will he realise that what he’s created in Smeerensburg is worth holding onto?


Klaus marks Netflix’s entry into the world of feature-length animation and the streaming – and production – giant’s first outing earned Oscar and BAFTA nominations.

Depending on where you’re coming from, it’s an uplifting, coming-of-age tale or a cynical, box-ticking exercise that acts as an origin story for Father Christmas himself.

A reclusive toy-maker in a snowy outpost joins forces with a reluctant postman and an army of hard-working locals to make and deliver presents to well-behaved children, with a herd of reindeer pulling his sleigh – he’s an age-old character that people around the world hold dear. But where did he come from?

This film considers how Klaus came to make toys and how he was inspired to share his treasure trove with deserving youngsters who write to him – but makes him a supporting character in the story of Jesper – a spoilt brat who’s taken down a few pegs and learns to be a better person as he enriches the lives of those he never imagined he’d meet. The true spirit of Christmas, if ever I heard it.

Any parents worried that attempting to give some kind of real-world grounding to this universal legend would strip him of his magic needn’t fret – a rare downbeat moment ensures that Santa Claus – as we know him – remains in the realms of fantasy.

Despite his dubious beginnings, Jesper quickly turns from an anti-hero to a protagonist we’re rooting for and Klaus, a fearsome giant when we first meet him, soon becomes a loyal and loving soul, whose selflessness rubs off on all those around him.

Well, almost. The clan leaders – and their desire to continue fighting each other – provide the only real antagonism in the film, but even they are united in their wish to remain divided. Perhaps Klaus’s sense of community does rub off on them after all.