by Kyle Arango
We are all always searching for that next great Christmas movie. That movie you can add to the rotation every year that puts a smile on your face and puts you in the spirit with no fail. We have already had a worthy addition earlier with Last Christmas and now Disney is throwing their hat into the ring with one of their Disney Plus films in Noelle. Will this film join the conversation and be a Christmas regular? Unfortunately, I don’t think so. While a noble attempt at a joyful holiday story, Noelle can’t ever overcome its cheap feel and familiar formula.
Noelle follows the story of Noelle Kringle (Anna Kendrick) and her brother Nick (Bill Hader) who are the children on Santa Clause. When Santa passes away, the torch of Santa is passed down to the male in Nick who has never wanted to be Santa and is certainly not ready. Stressed and scared, Nick disappears after his sister tells him to take a weekend off and it is up to Noelle, someone clearly more qualified to be Santa, to find her brother and save Christmas from being ruined. Saving Christmas is the goal in many of these films involving Santa Clause. He either gets sick or injured, but I have never seen a film where he’s dead and his son doesn’t want to take over. Bold take on a story but an attempt that ultimately fails due to this simplistic script. There never feels like anything is really at risk in this story. Yes, Christmas may not happen, but you never feel as if it won’t get saved. Instead, they go on a little vacation in Arizona that is just a waste of time. The film feels liked it was put together lazily and cheaply and it ends up making the plot just seem boring. It just becomes predictable and boring when there could’ve been something there.
What Noelle is trying to go for and halfway succeeds in is showing that Santa can be anyone. It doesn’t have to be a man, it can also be a woman because they are both capable of delivering presents to children on a sleigh in one night. Anna Kendrick does her best to carry the film through her charm and warmness, but she can only do so much. She was the perfect choice for this role, but the film surrounding her does no favors. Bill Hader you might think would easily bring a spark to this film. He does whenever he is in a scene, but they are few and far between. He disappears for a good half of this film and his loss is felt. All the other supporting characters just feel utterly useless as does the rest of the film. They are also trying to convey the message that Christmas is not about the gifts you get but instead the gifts you give. It is a great message for kids to learn at a young age, but it is nothing you have not seen before. There are many films that have done this story so much better and in the end, it just feels forgettable.
So while this film is harmless and has some joy to it, Noelle will quickly fall by the wayside in the Christmas filmography. It has a good message and Anna Kendrick gives it as much as she can, but the material is just so lazy that it overtakes all the goodwill it is trying to convey. The Christmas Chronicles with Kurt Russell from last year did this better. Is this a good film to put on for your kids while you wrap their Christmas presents? Yes, but come this time next season, you will have forgotten it even came out.
The Verdict: 2/5 Stars