A surprising (and unconventional) re-telling of Christmas legends with a cheeky tone leaving you thinking “huh – that was better than I expected.”
Kid will love it – but this review is for you, not them.
Netflix’s ambitious jump into the animated waters is exciting and hilariously convoluted: it’s simultaneously quirky, dark, sophisticated, and cliché.
Another “origin of Santa” story that blends time periods, technology, and even some proletarian messages about haves and have-nots. It left me frequently thinking, “Huh?” but then made me chuckle . The right amount of Where is this going” that I kept engaged and never rolled my eyes.
Your children are elevated because it’s not a vapid movie of inane Santa clichés. It makes them stretch and engages them on a higher level with an invented story involving many societal elements that might confuse them – but the animation keeps them riveted.
Synopsis – Jesper (voice by Jason Schwartzman), an entitled son of some Scandinavian gentry, fails to succeed at Postal School, he is sent to a remote arctic island as a last chance to prove his worth with the challenge of increasing postal use on the island. His own disdain for his job is superseded by the bizarre hatred all citizens of the island hold for each other. Tone changes as he befriends a local teacher (Rashida Jones) and is intrigued by a toy-making carpenter recluse (J.K. Simmons). Comedy ensues and hearts will be warmed like stockings hung by the chimney with care.
Made by the creators of “Despicable Me”, the humor is
cynical and funny. So it’s not a Hallmark schmaltzy bit of predictable
nostalgia, but it definitely provides the right amount of holiday clichés to
warm your heart and bring Christmas cheer.
Give it a try. You might be surprised by the circuitous and fresh take on the over-mined Santa origin story. But it’s not a waste of your holiday time.
The fabric of real New York is often obscured by exasperation. The city’s too expensive, too crowded, too corporate and has sold out to international investors parking nefarious earnings in apartments that are driving up prices for all the rest of the people actually living here.
But occasionally, one stumbles upon scrappy outposts that harken to the creative energy making real New York colorful and exciting.
This happened to me, recently, and inspired me to actually get off my lazy ass and write one of those forever-threatened (but never executed) Yelp reviews – a love letter to the creative types who pursue passion and make real New York badass.
Dear Louis Rossman – You made me fall in love with New York, again.
So my computer blanked out on
me over the summer.
I stood up from typing to refill my coffee, returned seconds later, and the computer had turned off. Weird.
I clicked the track pad, then the space and return buttons (somewhere between two and seventy-six times) with varying degrees of force. Then I hit the on/off switch.
It re-booted and miraculously
re-started for fifteen seconds until: poof.
My screen went dark.
And I couldn’t revive it.
The next day, I went to the Apple Store in Grand Central (talk about spectacular location) and the Apple Genius diagnosed it as “electronic anomaly.”
Him: It happens more than you
Him: Did you have it backed
Him: It’s only 2 years old.
For $450 we can send it away for a new motherboard.
Me: Will my 736 documents
randomly strewn across my desktop be saved?
Him: Most likely not.
Me: Welp, how do I do that?
Him (suddenly under his breath and leaning closer to me): There’s this guy on the Lower East Side. My colleagues around me would be pissed if I told you about him. But go to him.
(And the Genius Bar guy typed
out a phone number on his iPad to show me.)
A few hours later, I stumbled
upon the least charming storefront in New York City and walked in. A dude at a workstation
a few feet from the front window had multiple monitors and cameras pointing at
him, his desk, his hands, and his face.
He looked at me, said hello, then turned back to his work while saying, “What can we do for you?”
It was very efficient – not overly Midwestern-ly warm, nor in that NYC way of mild annoyance at being in the service industry.
Also, I felt like I’d stepped
into Mr. Robot.
He was Louis Rossman. The owner and head technician. Or as he later said to me, “The Mac Janitor.”
I explained my situation, he nodded, took my computer and immediately unscrewed the microscopic screws, himself.
Taking in the entirety of his operation, there were four or five more technicians doing varying things in the workplace – answering phones, organizing boxes, and presumably repairing all manner of tech. It was the organized chaos usually hidden from public eye but that makes real New York so much more exciting. It was thrilling to witness because it had the air of scrappy DIY’ers saving technical lives. I stared until jolted from my awe as Louis piped up at me: Yep. Your motherboard. I can replace it for $350 in a couple days and transfer data for $100.
Me: Is my data safe?
Louis: Is it backed up?
Me: LOL. No.
He pulls some thing looking
like a micro thumb drive out of my motherboard and says, “Looks fine.”
He grabs another laptop near
him, puts my data thumb drive thingy into that
computer’s hard drive, hands it to me and says, “Start uploading to Google
So I turned on this other
random computer that suddenly had all my data on it.
Huh. That’s how it works? Everything that makes my computer mine is
imprinted on that mini-thumb drive and plugs into the other doo-hickey that
must be a motherboard but looks like the crumb tray in a toaster.
I copied my ten million
documents to upload.
Google drive told me it would
take approximately 3 hours.
I sat there for one hour watching
the status of my upload tick down far too slowly. Meanwhile, Louis was a
At the same time that he
dissected a computer (I didn’t realize it was mine…his hands worked so quickly
and, well…they all look the same), under the watchful eye of his multiple
cameras, he calmly answered questions of his employees who shouted out without
care of interrupting him, answered the consistent main phone line, and greeted
every single European tourist, hipster, delivery person and desperate person
like me without the slightest hint of being overwhelmed.
He was a master – unshakably
calm at the epicenter of a business driven by panicking techno-idiots like
myself. We rubes who dropped, shook, spilled upon and generally abused our phones
and laptops were the cogs in the wheel making his business hum at a
An hour later, he hands me my
computer, says, “Stop your back-up. Just put it back in here.”
My computer was fixed.
Him: You had water damage.
But I didn’t see any spills.
Me: Weird. Could it be
He popped onto the monitor in front of him and reversed the real-time video screen to show me the motherboard he’d just fixed. He pointed out a circuit that had blown and apparently started a chain reaction. (Or something. Not sure I understood it all.)