Set on a frozen island above the Arctic Circle, “Klaus” is a Santa Claus origin story, directed by “Despicable Me” co-creator Sergio Pablos and Carlos Martinez Lopez. It’s racked up seven nominations for the 2020 Annie Awards, including Best Animated Feature.
The story follows lazy, pampered Jesper (voice by Jason Schwartzmann), who is dispatched by his firm father, director of the Royal Postal Academy, to remote Smeerenburg to serve as its mailman. If he works hard, he’ll earn his inheritance. If not…
To his horror, Jesper discovers that Smeerenburg’s embittered residents don’t write letters. They’re too busy feuding and fighting, particularly the Krum and Ellingboe clans.
Eventually, Jesper teams up with Klaus (voiced by J.K. Simmons), a reclusive woodsman whose hobby is making toys. With no children of his own, he’s been storing them on shelves until Jesper, working with the schoolteacher Alva (voiced by Rashida Jones), has a gift-giving idea.
While Smeerenburg is a fictional village, Pablos did visit Norway’s Svalbard Island for research, which is how he learned about the culture of the Sami people. Young Margu is voiced by Neda M. Ladda, a Sami.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Klaus” is an engaging, revisionist 8, destined to become another Christmas classic.