Klaus Parent Guide
Streaming on Netflix: Touching and beautifully animated, Klaus has the makings of a Christmas classic. (But it's so good it can be watched year round.)
Parent Movie Review
“A truly selfless act always sparks another.”
Spoiled and lazy, Jesper (Jason Schwartzman) is given an ultimatum from his father, the Postmaster General: establish a post office on the secluded island Smeerensburg, posting 6,000 letters within a year, or be cut off financially. When Jesper arrives in Smeerensburg, he discovers a town divided by two warring clans: the Ellingboes and the Krums. Desperate to find a way to post letters, Jesper begins delivering letters from the town’s children to a reclusive woodsman named Klaus (J.K. Simmons), who gives the children presents in return. As the children of the town begin to perform acts of kindness, their parents follow suit and that spark transforms the town.
There are a lot of Christmas movies in the world. Some great, some not so much. Thankfully this movie falls into the former category. The story is a fresh take on a well-trod subject; the origin of Santa Claus. The characters and story are relatable because the film stays in the realm of realism, for the most part, with only a very subtle amount of magic. The story is not overly Christmas-y, which lends itself to year-round watching, unlike many seasonal movies.
There are a few themes working throughout the narrative, but the most predominant one is that, as Klaus says, “a truly selfless act always sparks another.” When Jesper first arrives in Smeerensburg, the town is grey and silent. There is an ominous feel as you see the grey, expressionless faces, especially of the children. This is the most frightening part of the movie; the edges are sharp, and the tone is creepy. It was at this point that my three-year-old said, “This is too scary.” However, as the plot gets moving, the children of the town start doing good deeds for each other, followed soon after by the adults. The sun comes out, the edges soften, and the children play and giggle. Even for a young viewer, it is easy to see that kindness and service are proliferating and making the townsfolk happy. We see the change in Jesper as well, as he questions his motivations and his plans for the future.
As far as violence goes, the two clans are shown fighting each other, though this is done in a more slapstick, non-realistic way, with no blood or injuries visible on screen. However, I think this portrayal of fighting is justifiable, because the film is quick to show us the damage caused by the conflict, both on a personal and a social level. At no point is the violence depicted as honorable or worth emulating.
The animation style of this movie deserves special recognition. It appears hand drawn, but also has a slight 3D feel, making it gorgeous to look at. That hand drawn style adds to the timelessness and lasting power that I believe this movie could have.
Between the aesthetics, the story, the themes, and the performances (especially from Schwartzman), Klaus has all the makings of a holiday classic. I have now seen it twice and I cried both times. My three-year-old said that he liked it but admitted that it was a little frightening for him, mostly at the beginning. I highly recommend this movie if you are looking for a film with an uplifting message that both kids and adults can enjoy.Directed by Sergio Pablos, Carlos Martinez Lopez. Starring Jason Schwartzman, J K Simmons, Rashida Jones. Running time: 96 minutes. Theatrical release November 15, 2019. Updated April 10, 2020
Watch the trailer for Klaus
Rating & Content Info
Why is Klaus rated PG? Klaus is rated PG by the MPAA for rude humor and mild action
Violence: People are seen fighting each other, including with weapons such as pitchforks, knives, and hammers. This is in a slap stick style, no blood or injuries seen. A man is chased by angry dogs.
Sexual Content: A man and woman kiss.
Profanity: A single term of deity is used. Some insults, including one character calling another an idiot.
Alcohol / Drug Use: A man drinks beer in one scene, although it’s not overt.
Page last updated April 10, 2020
Klaus Parents' Guide
Why are the Ellingboes and Krums fighting each other? Is tradition a good enough reason for violence and division? Do we do things just because our parents or grandparents did them?
How does one selfless act lead to another? What selfless acts could we perform.
Loved this movie? Try these books…
For stories about the big guy in the red suit, you can’t beat Clement Moore’s original The Night Before Christmas.
For a beautifully illustrated story of a toymaker and his wife who became Father and Mother Christmas, check out The Untold Story of Father Christmas. Written by Alison and Mike Battle, this book is illustrated by Lauren A Mills.
One of our favorite Santa stories is Elise Primavera’s Auntie Claus. This picture book tells the story of young New Yorker, Sophie and her Auntie Claus, who lives in a festive whirl. One year, Sophis decides to find uncover the truth about her beloved aunt…
Is your child wondering if Santa’s real? Try turning the tables with Maureen Fergus’ fun tale, The Day Santa Stopped Believing in Harold. If Harold stops writing to Santa, does that mean Harold isn’t real? What’s Santa to think?
What is the North Pole really like? If your child wants an immersive look at Santa’s world, check out Rod Green’s Santa Claus: The Magical World of Father Christmas.
In Taro Gomi’s Presents Through the Window, a rushed Santa Claus starts tossing random gifts through windows. What’s going to happen in the morning?
We all love Christmas pop-up books. With Here Comes Santa, David Pelham has created a pop-up board book for even the youngest readers.
Related home video titles:
For another fun Santa origin story, check out Arthur Christmas. This combines a quirky British wit with a charming family story.
Finland has its own origin story for Saint Nick. Christmas Story, filmed in Finnish and dubbed into English, tells the enchanting story of a young orphan boy who grows up to be Santa Claus.