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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCF chapter.

As a film student, I have been authorized to announce that 2020 gets a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes; its outlandish script and endless plot twists have made for a clumsy, miserable experience for the whole family. But luckily for us, it’s almost time to roll credits! And even luckier, the end of the year is statistically the jolliest. How are we going to spend it?

If you’re like me, the answer is: watching a lot of Christmas movies. The unfortunate dilemma that this poses is that I end up watching the same ones year after year. 1970s claymation musicals and 2000s romantic comedies dominate the world of holiday classics! The occasional comedy from the ‘80s and ‘90s is able to break its way into our hearts, but that only further proves my ultimate point: 2010s Christmas movies generally lacked the ‘It Factor’ to stake their claims as our fireside comforts, and as such, the market has become rather stale. And, as much as I love Elf, Buddy’s journey through the sea of swirly, twirly gum-drops can only entertain for so many consecutive Christmases.

Then along came Klaus in November 2019, which has aged impeccably in the year since its release. If you haven’t seen it, I implore you to watch the trailer below (and subsequently the film, itself).

Sure, I know what you’re thinking: Panic! at the Disco always hits, but the overall vibe calls back to the countless Santa Claus origin stories we’ve seen before. What distinguishes this one from the rest? The animation is clearly in a league of its own — matched perhaps only by 2018’s Into the Spider-Verse — all hand-drawn but with a distinctly 3D style, earning it a well-deserved Oscar nomination. Award recognition, in itself, is a huge leap for any Christmas movie, but that isn’t the only thing that makes it special. It isn’t the thing that makes it so perfect for this unique holiday season.

It’s this: “What do you guys think you’re doing? This is Smeerensburg, the unhappiest place on Earth.” A line that seems to doom any efforts by our protagonists — the unlikely pairing of a reluctant mailman and reclusive toy-maker — only further highlights their success. Without spoiling the story, I can say that things start looking up on the Grim Island of Smeerensburg by the film’s conclusion, and this holds special meaning in an especially dark year: Klaus represents the light at the end of the tunnel. Couldn’t we all use that?

woman looking at the trees in front of the sun
Photo by Leon Biss from Unsplash
Listen: I don’t need to tell you what a rough year it’s been. The physical and emotional thrashing of our country and its people (AKA us) has left no person unmarked; no one has gotten through 2020 without some sort of scar. That kind of exhaustion is going to require an extensive recovery period. The holidays should be the perfect cool-down, but our collective anxiety is making us a bit hesitant to embrace the good: What if we lose it? Could losing that last good thing be what breaks us?

Jesper Johanssen and his burly sidekick, Klaus, show us that opening ourselves up to positive change is the only way that things can get better. Small children who have never felt joy — and who have been divided by both language and archaic feuds — can come together and play. The exhausted schoolteacher can rediscover her passion and connect with students who were once completely distant. Even Klaus and Jesper grow from the vulnerability that they offer to each other and the spirit of Christmas. It is the most uplifting of all Christmas tales, because it connects more with our humanity than with any mystical concepts about the season. 

So give Klaus a watch. Feel hopeful again. Let’s close out this year as resolutely as we can and prepare for the new one.

Grace - AKA "IMDB with legs" - is a junior Film major at the University of Central Florida. When she isn’t writing articles for Her Campus, she’s ranting about movies to her friends, watching Netflix in her dorm, or stressing out about being asked what her hobbies are.
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