Jesper (voice of Jason Schwartzman) is a privileged and spoilt young man who is completely useless at every job he does. In despair, his father sends him to a remote island to be their postman. Smeerensburg is a freezing, isolated place in the Arctic Circle, whose inhabitants are feuding clans. The Krums and the Ellingboes hardly speak to each other, let alone send letters, so Jesper finds himself with little to do. Even the teacher at the local school, Alva (Rashida Jones) is disillusioned with teaching and has become a fish monger.
Feeling rather desperate, Jesper goes for a long walk and discovers an old woodcutter’s cottage that appears empty. He goes inside to find it’s full of toys. Klaus (J.K. Simmons), the owner, enters the house looking menacing with an axe in hand. But Jesper discovers that Klaus is a sad old man who has lost his wife. The two eventually become friends and together transform Smeerensburg into a place with laughing children and happiness. The feud ends, the school returns to teaching and the magical tradition of bringing toys to children who hang stockings on the fireplace is born.
Christmas; feuds; redemption
Klaus has some violence. For example:
- Jesper rings the town bell and all of the people rush at him with pitchforks. They crash into each other and throw things at Jesper. Jesper gets blasted into the air from a canon.
- Two very large characters pull Jesper from both ends.
- Alva waves a sharp knife around, threatening Jesper.
- Jesper’s wagon rolls over in the snow and sends Jesper flying.
- Someone cocks a rifle.
- Alva grabs Jesper by his clothes, lifts him up and threatens him.
- Jesper lands in a fireplace and his clothes are briefly on fire.
- A large boulder falls on Klaus’s wagon.
- The clans brawl.
- The clans attack Klaus and slash at his sack full of toys. They throw spears and weapons at Klaus and Jesper. Klaus is thrown out of the sleigh and Jesper is left clinging on and nearly goes over the edge of a cliff.
Klaus has some sexual references. For example:
- Jesper and Alva kiss and eventually marry and have children.
- Two members from the feuding clans fall in love and marry.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
There’s no substance use in Klaus.
Nudity and sexual activity
There’s no nudity or sexual activity in Klaus.
There’s no product placement in Klaus.
Klaus has some coarse language, insults and name calling, including ‘loser’, ‘brat’, ‘idiot’, ‘irrelevant, pointless nobody’, ‘shut up’, ‘what the?’ and ‘holy moly’.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Klaus is an animated family movie about the origins of Santa Claus. The story exposes the futility of senseless fighting which only brings sadness and sorrow, and highlights that being kind and showing generosity changes everyone for the good. The movie is dark and scary in places and it is therefore not suitable for children under 7 years. We recommend parental guidance for children aged 7 years.
These are the main messages from Klaus:
- One act of goodwill always sparks another.
- It’s much better to be kind.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include kindness, caring and compassion, tolerance, forgiveness, redemption, friendship, teamwork, and inclusion of indigenous people.
Klaus could also give you the chance to talk with your children about the real-life consequences of life-long feuds and continuing hatred. You could talk about why leaving behind old grudges is always better for everyone, but also why some people don’t choose to make amends and instead remain resentful and spiteful.
You could also talk about how it’s possible for people to change over time.