When it comes to Christmas movies, I’m your target audience. They don’t even have to be that good for me to watch them. There’s a reason my television spends the month of December permanently affixed to cheesy cable Christmas movies, after all. Disney +’s original holiday movie, Noelle, should have been just my cup of cocoa. And it almost was. Almost. Let me explain…
Noelle is the story of Noelle Kringle (Anna Kendrick), daughter of Santa Claus. Her father has passed away since the previous Christmas, and brother Nick (Bill Hader) is struggling to pick up the reins of Santa’s sleigh. When Noelle suggests Nick take a weekend away to relax, Nick ends up taking a more permanent vacation. Noelle journeys to Phoenix to find her brother and save Christmas before it’s too late.
That leads into a classic fish out of water tale with more holiday turns of phrase than any one movie actually needs. (Stop trying to make “Oh my garland!” happen, Gretchen.) Along the way, Noelle befriends a private investigator (Kingsley Ben-Adir), learns that things outside of the North Pole are kind of a bummer, and finds the true meaning of Christmas.
If you feel like you’ve seen this movie before it’s because you have. I could never stop thinking it was trying so hard to be Elf. If you want to watch a movie like Elf, just go ahead and watch Elf. The movie also criminally under-utilized Billy Eichner. As Cousin Gabe, a member of Santa’s tech department and heir-apparent once Nick goes missing, Eichner provided only a tiny fraction of the comedy one would expect from him.
I loved the overall look and feel of Noelle, which was quintessentially Christmas. What I couldn’t understand was why the CGI reindeer looked so artificially rendered. I settled on the assumption that they were purposefully animated that way to give the movie a retro feel. Little reindeer Snowcone looked on the cusp of adorableness, though, so I’m feeling slightly cheated that they didn’t make a better effort.
Noelle is perfectly fine holiday fare. Not as good as I was hoping, but certainly not a bad movie. If it was a theatrical release I’d tell you to wait until it was on Blu-ray. Since it was released directly to Disney+, go ahead and give it a watch. Just don’t start saying “Oh my garland!”, OK?
About Disney’s Noelle
In Disney+’s holiday comedy “Noelle,” Kris Kringle’s daughter is full of Christmas spirit and holiday fun, but wishes she could do something “important” like her beloved brother Nick, who will take over for their father this Christmas. When Nick is about to crumble like a gingerbread cookie from all the pressure, Noelle suggests he take a break and get away…but when he doesn’t return, Noelle must find her brother and bring him back in time to save Christmas. The sudden disappearance of the new Santa (Bill Hader) leads to chaos in the North Pole, so Mrs. Kringle (Julie Hagerty) must step up to rein in the hi-tech replacement Santa, Cousin Gabe (Billy Eichner). Meanwhile, Noelle and Elf Polly (Shirley MacLaine), the family’s acerbic but good-hearted nanny, are down South on a search-and-recover mission, during which Noelle (Anna Kendrick) comes to realize she has much in common with her father and begins to understand the true meaning of Christmas. Written and directed by Marc Lawrence, “Noelle” stars Anna Kendrick, Bill Hader, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Billy Eichner, Julie Hagerty and Shirley MacLaine. The film is produced by Suzanne Todd with John G. Scotti serving as executive producer.
“Noelle” is streaming now, only on Disney+.