Klaus (2019)

Film and Plot Synopsis

Klaus begins when Jesper distinguishes himself as the postal academy’s worst student. So they stationed him on a frozen island above the Arctic Circle, where the feuding locals hardly exchange words; let alone letters. Jesper is about to give up when he finds an ally in local teacher Alva, and discovers Klaus, a mysterious carpenter who lives alone in a cabin full of handmade toys. Their unlikely friendships return laughter to Smeerensburg; forging a new legacy of generous neighbors, magical lore and stockings hung by the chimney with care.

‘Klaus’ Movie Summary

The summary below contains spoilers.
Klaus (2019)In the hand drawn animated Christmas film Klaus, Jesper Johansson (Jason Schwartzman) is the spoiled son of a wealthy Postmaster General. Jesper’s father has tried everything to motivate his son, but Jesper always sabotages his father’s attempts in the hope that he can just be rich and lazy and not ever have to work. His father wants him to have character, so he sends Jesper to the distant island town of Smeerensburg with the task of building and maintaining a post office. Jesper’s father gives Jesper the goal of delivering six thousand letters within a year.

His father warns Jesper that if he fails at this one last task that Jesper will be cut off from the family fortune.
Jesper journeys to the island with the sarcastic ferryman Mogens (Norm Macdonald). Once there, Jesper finds that the town in is the heat of a bitter feud between two perpetually warring families – the Ellingboes, led by the dimwitted Axel Ellingboe (Will Sasso) and the Krums, led by the family matriarch Tammy Krum (Joan Cusack). The Ellingboe and Krum feud has hindered the growth of the town, and everyone in the town is angry and bitter. Even the local fish saleswoman Alva (Rashida Jones) shows contempt for the new postman and warns him to leave as soon as he can.

Despite all the warnings and desperate to meet his goal of six thousand letters, Jesper sets up shop in the dilapidated post office. He soon finds that no one sends any letters anywhere. The closest he gets is a picture drawn by an unhappy child which he promises to send if the child gives him one penny for delivery.

One day, Jesper notices an isolated dwelling in the corner of the island map in his office. Jesper decides to make the trek to the isolated location in the hopes that someone will want to send a letter. Once there, he finds a house filled with handmade toys and the woods surrounding the house filled with birdhouses. When the lonely owner of the property of the cabin returns, Jesper is frightened by the large, reclusive woodsman with an axe, and flees back to Smeerensburg, leaving behind the unhappy child’s drawing. Klaus (J.K. Simmons), the woodsman, finds the drawing and follows Jesper to Smeerensburg. Once there, he insists Jesper show him where the child lives. Once at the child’s house, Klaus makes Jesper enter the child’s house and deliver a package which contains a small toy for the child. When the child opens the package, Jesper and Klaus watch from a nearby window to see the child’s overwhelming joy.

The next day, word of the child’s mysterious gift has spread to the other children of the town, who go to Jesper. They each believe that if they send a letter that they will receive a toy as well. Jesper sees this as an opportunity for him to meet his goal and goes to Klaus and makes a deal for him to give away all the handmade toys in his shed. Klaus insists that Jesper will continue to assist him, that they only make the deliveries at night, and that they deliver the toys in secret.

Soon, more and more children begin writing letters to the reclusive woodsman. Jesper tells the children that Klaus will only bring toys to good children, and that the toymaker will always know when any child misbehaves. This has the unintended effect of causing the children to commit random acts of kindness and to abandon their ongoing involvement in the feud between the families. When Jesper finds that some children do not know how to read or write, he convinces Alva, who came to the town to be a teacher, to reopen the town’s school.

With the increased demand for toys, Klaus begins to run out of them in his shed. Still short of his goal, Jesper encourages Klaus to make more toys in time for Christmas, which Klaus refuses to do. Klaus then tells Jesper that he previously made the toys for all the children that he and his wife were going to have after they got married. However, Klaus’ wife Lydia died of illness before they were able to have any children. After her death, Klaus could only bring himself to make birdhouses because his wife loved birds. Despite Jesper’s insistence, Klaus refuses to make any more toys.

Soon after, the duo reconcile and work together to make a small sled for a tiny Sámi girl named Márgu (Neda Margrethe). Márgu lives in an isolated settlement with her people on a distant part of the island. Jesper and Klaus must use Klaus’ sleigh with his reindeer to reach the settlement to deliver the toy to Márgu. After Klaus sees the joy that is brought to the tiny Sámi girl’s face, he understands the happiness that he and Jesper are bringing with each random act of kindness and agrees to help Jesper’s Christmas plan. The two are even more surprised when the people from Márgu’s settlement show up at Klaus’ shop and wish to help with the toymaking. With the town changing for the better and his relationship with Alva turning romantic, Jesper starts to reconsider whether he wants to leave Smeerensburg after meeting his goal.

The quieting of hostilities between the warring families does not go unnoticed by the heads of the two families. Unhappy with Jesper and Klaus’ influence, Axel and Tammy form a temporary truce in order to return things to the way they were. Axel and Tammy learn of Jesper’s six thousand letter goal and form a plan to help him meet that goal and get him out of town. They write letters and mail them, causing Jesper’s post office to have posted fourteen thousand letters. As a result, Jesper’s father arrives on Christmas Eve to congratulate his son and take him home. Jesper’s father’s arrival and pronouncement reveal Jesper’s original selfish reasons for his deeds. Angrily, Klaus, Alva, and the others turn their backs on Jesper.

Preparing to leave Smeerensburg, Jesper’s father notices his son’s unhappiness. Realizing that his son is remorseful for his selfish behavior, and that he has matured beyond his expectations, he allows Jesper to stay on the island. Jesper goes to find his friends and sees that the town elders and their gangs heading to Klaus’ workshop to destroy the Christmas toys. Jesper attempts to stop them by riding away on the sled, but he inadvertently leads the sled to a cliff where Tammy dumps the gift-wrapped toys over the edge. However, during the chase, Axel’s daughter and Tammy’s son fall in love, causing the parents to cease the feud between them.

With Jesper believing that Christmas is ruined, Alva reveals that the families’ plans to destroy the toys was known to her, and that she and Klaus had prepared for it. Klaus reveals that the toys that went over the cliff were decoys, and the real toys are safe. Pleased that the toys are safe, Klaus and Jesper head out to make the nightly deliveries.
Jesper stays in Smeerensburg and marries Alva. They have two children. He and Klaus continue to deliver presents to children on the island and beyond for eleven more years. Then in the twelfth year, Klaus hears his wife calling to him and disappears into the woods, implying his death. The film ends with Jesper joyfully spending Christmas Eve with his family and then ending the night sitting by the fire, waiting to see the spirit of his dear friend Klaus who continues to deliver toys to children around the world.

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Netflix released Klaus on November 8, 2019. Sergio Pablos directed the film starring Jason Schwartzman, J.K. Simmons, Rashida Jones, and Joan Cusack.

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