A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Primarily intended to educate rather than entertain, but kids may learn about the Scandinavian indigenous group the Sámi people.
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
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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."
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"Shut up, you idiot." Someone says "Go home, loser!" to Jesper. "Brat." "Holy moly," "holy mother." "What the ... ?" Klaus yells "Get out!"
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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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.