Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Sergio Pablos|
|Edited by||Pablo Garcia Revert|
Klaus is a 2019 English-language Spanish animated Christmas comedy film written and directed by Sergio Pablos (in his directorial debut), produced by Sergio Pablos Animation Studios (also known as the SPA Studios) with support from Aniventure and distributed by Netflix as its first original animated feature. Co-written by Zach Lewis and Jim Mahoney, the film stars the voices of Jason Schwartzman, J. K. Simmons, Rashida Jones, Will Sasso, Neda Margrethe Labba, Sergio Pablos, Norm MacDonald, and Joan Cusack. Serving as a fictional origin story to the myth of Santa Claus, the plot revolves around a postman stationed in a town to the North who befriends a reclusive toymaker (Klaus).
Klaus was released on 8 November 2019 and was met with positive reviews from audiences, who praised its innovative animation, heartwarming story and vocal performances.
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Jesper (Jason Schwartzman) is a young man from a wealthy family in the postal business, and a selfish brat who has no life ambitions whatsoever. When his father the Postmaster General puts him in the postal academy, he deliberately distinguishes himself to be the academy’s worst student, so his father stations him on a island above the Arctic Circle, with the ultimatum that if he does not post 6,000 letters in a year, he shall be cut off from the family estate.
After Jesper is brought to the island's town of Smeerensburg by sarcastic ferry boat skipper Mogens (Norm Macdonald), it gradually becomes clear that the entire town, consisting of two feuding families, the Ellingboes led by Mr. Ellingboe (Will Sasso) and the Krums led by Mrs. Krum (Joan Cusack), hardly exchange words, let alone letters. Trying to figure out a way to post letters from the town, Jesper notices on the map in his office a far off little establishment. There, he discovers a reclusive woodsman named Klaus (J.K. Simmons), with a skill of woodworking and a house with lots of handmade toys.
Jesper is about to finally give up when unexpected events unfold that give him the idea of having Klaus donate his toys to the town kids who would ask him for them, and who, by doing so, would send letters. Klaus agrees to Jesper's proposal of donating the toys, provided that the deliveries will be at night so he can accompany Jesper on them. When Jesper discovers many of the kids can't write, he sends them to Ms Alva (Rashida Jones), a teacher who Jesper met on his first day in town. The increasingly developing actions of Jesper and Klaus delivering of toys becomes the talk of the town kids, with the nature of said actions making them believe that Klaus is not only solely responsible, but he also has certain magical qualities, including entering homes through any chimney in complete silence, and riding a flying sleigh powered by reindeer. When Jesper tells the kids that Klaus would not give toys to bad kids and he always knows when children are misbehaving, the childrens’ attitudes change, and their acts of kindness inspire the other townsfolk to do the same.
Eventually, Jesper and Klaus begin to run out of toys to give the children, so Jesper suggests they only give toys on Christmas. One day, Klaus tells Jesper about his wife, Lydia. He explains of how they planned to have many children, and he made the toys they had been giving away for them while they waited. But they were never able to have children, and Lydia eventually got sick and died. Klaus expresses how happy Jesper has made him in their mission by spreading joy to the children, and agrees to Jesper's Christmas plan. They soon receive help from a small community of kind Sámi people to fulfill the plan.
Beyond Jesper’s and Klaus’s plan, Mr. Ellingboe and Mrs. Krum have been wanting to stop Jesper and Klaus to preserve their tradition of the families' centuries-long feud, and they agree to do it by joining forces. They come up with a plan that involves making Jesper leave by using his past against him. Jesper, however, ultimately makes his decision final to stay in Smeerensburg, and when the family heads go to destroy the toys, he does everything he can to stop them, but his efforts are seemingly futile in the end even when they cause events that make Mr. Ellingboe's daughter Pumpkin (Sergio Pablos) and Mrs. Krum's son Olaf (Sergio Pablos) fall in love. However, it turns out Klaus and Alva had already known what was coming and made preparations to foil the plan, replacing the toys with wooden decoys.
As things in Smeerensburg keep on getting better with Mr. Ellingboe and Mrs. Krum forced to end the families' feud due to their kids getting married, Jesper and Klaus continue to deliver presents on Christmas while having to keep expanding their operation further and further as time continues on. Then, on the twelfth year, Klaus suddenly disappears without a trace, joining his departed wife. Jesper and Alva get married and have two children together, and every Christmas Eve, Jesper gets to see the spirit of his friend as he continues to deliver toys to kids around the world.
- Jason Schwartzman as Jesper Johansson, a selfish postman.
- J. K. Simmons as Klaus (Santa Claus), a carpenter who makes toys.
- Simmons also voices Sargent, the assistant head of Jesper's family's postal department.
- Rashida Jones as Alva, a schoolteacher turned fishmonger and Jesper's love interest.
- Will Sasso as Mr. Ellingboe, a man carrying on an ancient feud of his family with the Krums.
- Neda Margrethe Labba as Márgu, a little Saami girl who befriends Jesper.
- Sergio Pablos as:
- Pumpkin, Mr. Ellingboe's daughter who's only word is "mine".
- Olaf, Mrs. Krum's son who just makes sounds.
- Norm Macdonald as Mogens, a sarcastic boatman who lives in Smeerensburg.
- Joan Cusack as Mrs. Krum, an old woman carrying on an ancient feud of her family with the Ellingboes.
- Reiulf Aleksandersen and Sara Margrethe Oksal as Adults Saami voices
Additional children voices by Evan Agos, Sky Alexis, Jaeden Bettencourt, Teddy Blum, Mila Brener, Sydney Brower, Finn Carr, Kendall Joy Hall, Hayley Hermida, Lexie Holland, Brooke Huckeba, Matthew McCann, Tucker Meek, Leo Miller, Joaquin Obradors, Víctor Pablos, Lucian Perez, Bailey Rae Fenderson, Maximus Riegel, Emma Shannon, Ayden Soria, Sunday Sturz, Hudson West, Gordon Wilcox, Emma Yarovinskiy and Julian Zane
Additional adult voices by Brad Abrell, Catherine Cavadini, Bill Chott, Daniel Crook, Brian Finney, Stephen Hughes, Neil Kaplan, Sam McMurray, Amanda Philipson, Alyson Reed, Dee Dee Rescher, Dwight Schultz, Lloyd Sherr, Helen Slayton-Hughes and Travis Willingham
After setting up his own animation studio in Madrid, Spain, director Sergio Pablos, who had worked on Disney Renaissance films such as Aladdin, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, and Tarzan, decided to develop a new traditionally-animated feature film. Pablos wanted to explore how the medium would have evolved had western animation film studios not switched to producing mostly computer animated films since the 1990s. For the film's look, the studio sought to overcome some of the technical limitations that traditional animation had, focusing on organic and volumetric lighting and texturing to give a film a unique look, while maintaining a hand-crafted feel. Proprietary tools from Les films du Poisson Rouge, a French company in Angoulême, were used to allow the team to produce a variety of visual development styles, with the aim of getting away from the standardized style of "characters looking like stickers put on painted backgrounds." Fellow Disney animator James Baxter, known for Beauty and the Beast, also worked on the film.
The first teaser for the project was released in April 2015; at the time, the studio was seeking investment, co-production, and distribution partners. It was shopped around to various studios, who perceived it as "too risky."  In November 2017, Netflix announced that they had acquired the global rights to Klaus; at the same time, the casting of Schwartzman, Jones, Simmons, and Cusack were announced along with a Christmas 2019 release date.  In March 2019, it was reported that Netflix was planning an Oscar-qualifying run for Klaus in theaters, and it was listed as one of ten films Netflix was negotiating with chains to give limited releases prior to their online debuts that August. The film's release date was announced, alongside the debut of an official trailer, on October 7.
The film is dedicated to animator and scene checker Mary Lescher who died on June 2, 2019 of cancer. She had worked on Klaus, as well as other animated features such as Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King.
Klaus was released theatrically in select theaters on November 8, 2019, and was released digitally through Netflix on November 15. It is the first original animated feature film to appear on Netflix.
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 92% based on 50 reviews, with an average rating of 7.59/10. The critical consensus reads "Beautiful hand-drawn animation and a humorous, heartwarming narrative make Klaus an instant candidate for holiday classic status." Metacritic assigned the film a weighted average score of 63 out of 100, based on 11 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
|Award||Date of Ceremony||Category||Recipient(s)||Result||Ref/|
|Annie Awards||January 20th 2020||Best Animated Feature||Klaus||Pending|||
|Best Character Animation in a Feature Film||Sergio Martins (animation supervisor)
|Best Character Design in a Feature Film||Torschen Schrank||Pending|
|Best Directing in a Feature Film||Sergio Pablos||Pending|
|Best Production Design in a Feature Film||Szymon Biernacki, Marcin Jakubowski||Pending|
|Best Storyboarding in a Feature Film||Pablos||Pending|
|Best Editorial in a Feature Film||Pablo García Revert||Pending|
|Detroit Film Critics Society Awards||December 9, 2019||Best Animated Feature||Klaus||Nominated|||
|Hollywood Music in Media Awards||November 20, 2019||Best Original Song in an Animated Film||"Invisible"||Nominated|||
|St. Louis Film Critics Association Awards||December 15, 2019||Best Animated Feature||Klaus||Pending|||
|Washington D.C. Film Critics Association Awards||December 8, 2019||Best Animated Feature||Nominated|
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- Klaus director pushed past the limitations of traditional animation
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