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Jesper (voiced by Jason Schwartzmann) is a spoiled brat who cannot hold a job and just wants to sleep on silk sheets and have his dinner served to him. His father, who I think owns the world postal system, banishes Jesper to a tiny island Smeerensburg somewhere near the North Pole with the instruction that he can return once he proves he has delivered 6000 pieces of mail. The island is home to two factions that have been feuding as long as anyone can remember. Here, he meets a burned-out schoolteacher (voiced by Rashida Jones) and a strange man named Klaus (voiced by J.K. Simmons), and these encounters change the lives of all involved. This is a wonderful Christmas story (actually, it is a story of how the legend of Santa Claus came to be). I was wondering how I missed this; I did some reading and see that it was only in very limited release and it is a film from Spain! The animation is incredible – it is such a treat to see hand-drawn animation that looks like this and to have a break from the over-stylized, perfect animation of Pixar and others.  The script is very sharp and hip. There is everything here that would appeal to kids and adults alike. It is too bad that this wasn’t widely released at the holiday; I could see this easily becoming a Christmas Classic, as it has Santa Claus, the Grinch, and Scrooge all built into one clever story.  Big thumbs up for me – even though it is no longer Christmas, check it out on Netflix. It is worth the watch. (2019; 4.5 Stars)

About Gary Burkholder

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