Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Klaus Movie Poster Image
 Parents recommendPopular with kids
Santa origin story is a sweet reminder of generosity.
  • PG
  • 2019
  • 98 minutes

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 30 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 25 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Primarily intended to educate rather than entertain, but kids may learn about the Scandinavian indigenous group the Sámi people.

Positive Messages

Promotes moving past old grudges, not being afraid of new friendships, not judging others because of what their parents/grandparents did or felt. Also celebrates joy of children who want to have friends and to play, acknowledges sadness of adults who want children but don't have them. Themes include communication, compassion, teamwork.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Jesper starts off as a "spoiled brat" but ends up a kind, generous man who appreciates the kids of Smeerensburg and his friendship with Klaus. Alva is a clever, persevering woman who rededicates herself to teaching. Klaus is a selfless man/toymaker who wants to bring joy to the children of Smeerensburg. A Sámi girl and her indigenous tribe help Klaus and Jesper. Their speech is subtitled, and they dress in traditional Sámi clothes.

Violence & Scariness

The citizens of Smeerensburg are involved in a generations-old feud between two families/factions. The people come out ready to fight with weapons at the sound of the war bell. The two families lay traps for each other, spend lots of time trying to come up with ways to terrorize the other side. The two families chase Klaus and Jesper, who nearly plunge to their deaths. The town square has a noose and a battle bell.

Sexy Stuff

Jesper and Alva flirt and eventually kiss and become a couple. Two members from feuding families fall in love and marry. The bride carries the groom and calls him "mine."


"Shut up, you idiot." Someone says "Go home, loser!" to Jesper. "Brat." "Holy moly," "holy mother." "What the ... ?" Klaus yells "Get out!"

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Klaus is an animated holiday comedy about a possible origin story for Santa. The movie takes place in the fictional island village of Smeerensburg, where spoiled young postman Jesper (voiced by Jason Schwartzman) strikes up an unlikely friendship with a local carpenter/toymaker named Klaus (J.K. Simmons). The whole town is involved in a generations-old feud between two families/factions that leads to lots of resentment and treating fellow villagers as "the enemy." Expect lots of sight gags, plenty of physical comedy, and some peril, as well as some mob scenes of village folk armed and ready to fight. There's some romance (flirting, kissing, and marriage); language includes mild insults like "loser," "brat," and "idiot," as well as "what the ... ?" A few characters speak in the Sámi language -- their lines are subtitled. The story promotes moving past old grudges and celebrates the joy of children who want to have friends and to play. Parents and kids will be able to discuss the importance of generosity, compassion, and teamwork in the movie.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bySheRah327 November 18, 2019

Good, but Scary for little ones

My 5.5-year-old daughter thought the first half-hour or so was scary! She's right, it does have a very dark start - coupled with the style of animation, it... Continue reading
Parent of a 5 and 8-year-old Written bymadame pierre December 7, 2019

Good comedy

This movie, from the makers of Despicable Me, has dark elements and cartoons violence like that series has. So I would use that as a guide in deciding if it’s a... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old December 23, 2019

Good family movie but has some scary scenes

I think clause is a great family movie but there is some mild violence and swearing and some scenes have the potential to scare young kids
Teen, 17 years old Written bynoided December 6, 2020

Surprisingly Great

Ok, the animation alone would’ve made this a 6/10. But the animation, coupled with the great sense of humor and compelling characters make this a must for any C... Continue reading

What's the story?

KLAUS follows Jesper (voiced by Jason Schwartzman), a privileged young Postal Academy employee whose strict father, the Postmaster General, punishes him with the most remote assignment possible: Smeerensburg, an island above the Arctic Circle. Jesper can't return to his pampered life at home until he processes 6,000 pieces of mail in one year. But upon arriving in Smeerensburg, it becomes clear that the citizens aren't inclined to send correspondence: The town is built on resentment and recrimination, and the founding families are engaged in a War of the Roses-style feud. Even the town's one teacher, Alva (Rashida Jones), has turned into a fishmonger because the warring factions don't send their kids to school to sit next to the enemy. After Jesper accidentally delivers a child's letter to village hermit Klaus (J.K. Simmons), a carpenter and toymaker, Klaus asks Jesper to deliver a toy back to the child. This gives Jesper a brilliant idea: Every kid who writes Klaus a letter should get a toy in response; that way, all the eager kids' letters will eventually add up to his father's quota.

Is it any good?

This holiday movie with roots in friendship, bridge-building, and the dying art of letter writing is sure to entertain and amuse thanks to its impressive animation and expressive voice cast. Klaus's take on the Santa origin story is unique and a little loopy, but as Jesper and Klaus collaborate to bring toys to the children of Smeerensburg, the movie manages to explain all of the key points of the Santa legend (the reindeer, the sled, the chimney, the big bag of toys, even the bright red outfit). The snowy landscapes are gorgeously animated -- swirling shades of white, blue, brown, and red -- while the characters are crisp and expressive. On one side, there's the perpetually scowling matriarch of the Krum family (Joan Cusack), and on the other, there's the adorable Sámi girl who ends up enlisting her entire tribe to assist Jesper and Klaus in his workshop.

The initial premise -- that Jesper just wants the kids' postage-paid letters and the return toys delivered so that he can get out of Smeerensburg -- isn't nearly as important as the ensuing friendships between both Jesper and Klaus and Jesper and Alva, who's finally able to go back to teaching once the kids realize they need to learn to write to send Klaus letters. Jesper's character development is crucial in recognizing the story's holiday spirit. Giving to the kids isn't a means to an end at all. The giving is what brings meaning to Klaus, to him, and eventually to the entire town. Sweeter and more thoughtful than it needed to be, this is a fine holiday pick for the family.

Talk to your kids about ...

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love holidays

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate