This New Netflix Movie Says Santa Is A Ghost (So Maybe Don’t Tell Your Children)

Warning: Spoilers ahead for Netflix's Klaus.
Klaus, premiering on Netflix November 8, a superhero origin story — and the superhero is Santa Claus
Thanks to a highly efficient, if a bit deceptive, oral tradition, we all could complete a dossier about Santa Claus. He has a big red coat, a bombastic laugh, a yearly appointment of delivering presents via flying reindeer. He sees you when you’re sleeping, etc. What’s not passed down are answers. How did Santa get this outlandish hobby and round-the-clock ambition? Where did he amass his elven workforce? Does he pay them? If so, what is the North Pole monetary and economic system like?
Advertisement
Klaus, premiering on Netflix November 8, a superhero origin story — and the superhero is Santa Claus. 
Klaus goes to great, imaginative lengths to create a backstory for the mascot of the Christmas spirit. Directed by Sergio Pablos, Netflix’s first animated feature film is a natural successor to ‘70s Christmas classics like Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town and The Year Without a Santa Claus, all of which try to answer the question: Who is this bearded fellow, and why does he do this with his life? 
Beware: The Santa in Klaus is not of the jolly variety. Klaus’ Woodsman (J.K. Simmons) has the body type of the Hulk, the hygiene of a recluse, and the speech patterns of Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy, in that he grunts more than speaks (for a while). Klaus spends his days alone in a remote cabin in a remote region of a northern territory. 
So what if he’s really a softie with a stash of intricate wooden toys? On the surface, the Woodsman is the stuff of nightmares, and sends more than one character screaming in fright — like Jesper (Jason Schwartzman), our unlikely protagonist who witnesses the transformation from Scary Santa to Cuddly Klaus firsthand. 
Jesper, the scion of a postal service empire (just go with it), has been spoiled by a lifetime of silk sheets and indulgences. After he gets kicked out of the Royal Postman Academy, Jesper’s brattiness goes one step too far. 
His father, Postmaster General (Sam McMurray), devises a specifically cruel and fitting punishment for his wayward son: Jesper is exiled to the remote island of Smeerensburg to establish a thriving post office. If he doesn’t process 6,000 letters in a year, Jesper will be booted out of the fortune (once again, just go with it).
Advertisement
In Smeerensburg, it’s always winter, and it’s always dangerous. Smeerensburg is completely overrun by a centuries-old Capulet-and-Montague style feud between the Ellingboe and Krum clans. With the relentless fighting, it’s impossible for life to move forward. People like Alva (Rashida Jones), a teacher from out of town without students to teach, are desperate to leave — understandably so.  
Then, Jesper figures out how to satisfy his quota and break the cycle of violence. Jesper delivers presents to the children of Smeerensburg who write Klaus letters. In bringing these bright flashes of color into the world, Jesper and the Woodsmen interrupt the town’s unrelenting grimness— and stir up trouble among the set-in-their-ways adults, benefitted by the sense of purpose the feud lends them
Considering that Klaus is fundamentally a children’s movie, it’s remarkably daring in how dark it becomes, and how dark it stays. At first, Jesper is a privileged termite. His new neighbors are equally unlikable – violent, prejudiced, and grotesquely spindly. 
Klaus is A Nightmare Before Christmas-level grim, which is what makes the ultimate redemptions feel sweeter. Klaus arrives at the requisite conclusions of a Christmas movie: Gifts are ideally packaged message of generosity; selflessness is the spirit of the holiday; stringed lights do wonder for the mood of a place (ask any college freshman). 
Although it’s working with extremely familiar ingredients, Klaus manages to be a genuinely original Christmas movie. Certainly no other Christmas movie has ended with the implication that Santa is actually a ghost, has it?
Related Content:

More from Movies

R29 Original Series

Advertisement