Every year, once the holidays come around, I make it a point to check out at least one new Christmas special. Regardless of whether it’s a TV show or movie, I think it’s important to supplement your holiday collection.
There will always be a place for classics like “It’s A Wonderful Life” or “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” but we can’t be afraid to give other holiday specials a chance. Otherwise, we wouldn’t experience unexpected gems like “The Christmas Chronicles,” a wonderful Christmas movie from Netflix that I recommended last year.
I can attest that those who have seen this movie are grateful for that recommendation. My mother even checked it out and she thought it was delightful.
In that same spirit, I’d like to recommend another holiday gem that really flew under the radar. I actually watched it last year, but it kind of got overshadowed by “The Christmas Chronicles.” However, in re-watching it again recently, while I was wrapping presents no less, only made me realize how great it was.
That movie is called “Klaus,” an animated feature that’s also on Netflix and one that you’d never expect to be so great. That’s despite the rather impressive voice cast, which include the likes of J. K. Simmons, Rashida Jones, Jason Schwartzman, and the late Norm MacDonald.
It’s one of those movies that, if you just saw the trailer, you’d think it’s just some sub-par Pixar or Dreamworks wannabe. You know it’s a Christmas movie, but it’s not clear what kind of Christmas movie it’s supposed to be. I remember putting it on because I just wanted to have something on in the background while I wrapped presents.
Much to my surprise and delight, “Klaus” turned out to be so much more. What starts as a somewhat quirky story about a lazy, self-centered, self-absorbed postal worker quickly evolves into a unique kind of Christmas story, one that captures the spirit of the holidays in all the right ways.
The story begins with Jesper, the aforementioned postal worker who has largely coaxed his way through life because he was born in a privileged family. Then, his father decided to teach him a lesson and sends him to the postal station in Smeerensburg, one of the least jolly places in the world. It’s a harsh lesson and one he resents to the utmost.
While there, he meets Klaus, a mysterious recluse from the woods who makes toys in his spare time. His reasons for doing so aren’t clear at first. He even seems menacing, as tends to be the case with characters who sound like J. K. Simmons. However, as we learn more about him, we also learn the tragic nature of his story.
I won’t spoil it. I’ll just say that it’s one of those tragedies that serves as the foundation for something that’s genuinely heartwarming. It doesn’t happen all at once. The motivations involved aren’t even that noble at first. Then, as the story unfolds, the true spirit of the movie becomes clear.
You see selfish, arrogant people eventually become selfless, sincere, and genuine.
You see someone go from a liar and a fraud to someone willing to sacrifice all his comforts to do the right thing.
You also see someone turn their loss and heartbreak into something positive and beautiful.
There’s just so much more I could say about this movie. The last few minutes alone will bring a tear to your eye while enriching your Christmas spirit. While I still think “The Christmas Chronicles” is the better Christmas movie, “Klaus” is not that far behind.
If you’re going to try another Christmas movie this year, make it this one. It’s a uniquely heartwarming story that perfectly embodies the spirit of the season. After the past couple years, we could all use more of that.