Netflix Christmas movie 'Klaus' highlights biblical values, 'goodwill toward men'

Jason Schwartzman, J.K. Simmons, and Rashida Jones bring the animated Netflix film "Klaus" to life. | Netflix

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Netflix’s animated Christmas movie "Klaus" puts a charming new spin on the old tale of Santa Claus and offers a timely reminder that “a true act of Goodwill always sparks another.”

Scripted by "Despicable Me" co-creator Sergio Pablos, along with Zach Lewis and Jim Mahoney, “Klaus” tells the story of Jesper (Jason Schwartzman), the postal academy’s worst student. To make Jesper prove his worth, his wealthy father stations him on a frozen island above the Arctic Circle called Smeerensburg. Jesper’s work is cut out for him: In Smeerensburg, feuding locals hardly exchange words, let alone letters.

Jesper is about to give up when he finds an ally in teacher Alva (Rashida Jones), and discovers Klaus (J.K. Simmons), a mysterious carpenter who lives alone in a cabin full of handmade toys. These unlikely friendships return laughter to Smeerensburg, forging a new legacy of generous neighbors, magical lore and stockings hung by the chimney with care. 

“My character is really smart, like he's trying to always scam the system, he doesn't think he's gotta work hard at things. He's smart and he's figured out ways to get around things, and he will say what he has to say to get people to do things,” Schwartzman, (“The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “Saving Mr. Banks,”) told The Christian Post during a sit-down interview.  

Rated PG, “Klaus” marks Netflix’s first foray into the world of animation. It’s a clever spin on an old tale, telling of how Santa Claus came to be the beloved “Father Christmas” children know and love. Yet, it’s also full of deeper themes and biblical values, driving home the importance of kindness and generosity. 

“I do love a practical version of why we're giving gifts,” Schwartzman said. “It wasn’t magic; it all started because there was a selfish young guy, a postman, who needed people to write a certain amount of letters to this guy to get some toys so that he could get out of this little town because it was freezing.”

“I love the idea of a holiday and a time of year that's really about selflessness. And I think it's a funny, nice, refreshing take on it and a humorous take on it. It originated from something selfish and then it turned itself around. The origin of it wasn't super pure. It was very practical. It was just about people and their flaws,” he continued. 

To achieve his goal — getting out of Smeerensburg and back to his luxurious lifestyle — Jesper encourages children to write letters, include one another, and practice kindness. But as he teaches others to live selflessly, his own selfish heart begins to soften. 

“I think his growth is, he has some perspective from a distance,” Schwartzman said. “He sees that ... everything I've been saying, it's true. And all of a sudden this place has changed and I haven't. What's wrong?”

“I think he realizes that the things you do and the things you say are not just things you do and not just things you say, but they are the world,” he added. 

A true Christmas film, “Klaus” reminds viewers of the importance of charity. Throughout  the movie, Klaus often reminds Jesper: “A true act of goodwill always sparks another.”

“I believe that,” Schwartzman emphasized. “It's like a kind of a ripple; you throw a little stone in the pond. I think the effects of positivity go farther than people realize, and so do the effects of negativity.”

“I think it's true that if you see things in a positive way and put a positive spin on something and do something truly just out of kindness, it goes a long way,” he said. “It really is one of the best things you can do for the world.”

“Klaus” will be in theaters nationwide on Nov. 8 and released on Netflix on Nov. 15.

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