Holiday Movie ‘Klaus’ Launches Netflix’s Animated Feature Ambitions

Jennifer Wolfe

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Filled with humor and emotion in equal parts, Netflix’s first animated feature, Sergio Pablos’ hand-drawn, feel-good family holiday movie “Klaus,” checks off all the right boxes. The “Despicable Me” creator included something for everyone in this clever Santa Claus origin tale wrapped in the idea that one simple act of kindness always sparks another.

Oscar watchers will be keeping a close eye on “Klaus,” which boasts a stellar voice cast led by Jason Schwartzman as hapless postman Jesper, alongside J.K. Simmons, Rashida Jones, Norm Macdonald, Will Sasso and Joan Cusack.

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The story follows the spoiled Jesper, who’s reluctantly sent away and stationed on the fictional Arctic island of Smeerensburg. He comes up with an idea for children to write a letter to Klaus. In exchange for a letter, the kids receive a toy. Once there, he forms an unlikely alliance with a mysterious toymaker, helping to end an age-old feud while delivering a sleigh full of holiday traditions. It’s a creative and original thrill from top to bottom.

Produced by Jinko Gotoh (“Finding Nemo”), “Klaus” is based on an original story by Pablos, who wrote the screenplay with Jim Mahoney and Zach Lewis.

The film’s groundbreaking visuals were created at the SPA Studios in Madrid, where Pablos and his wife and producing partner Marisa Román assembled a team of more than 250 animators and artists to bring “Klaus” to the screen. The results are indeed a gorgeous production. Pablos and his team developed a production pipeline that combined traditional hand-drawn animation with custom-built shading and lighting tools for a beautifully stylized 3D effect that pushes 2D animation to new — and, perhaps, Oscar-worthy — heights.

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