Noelle (2019) is a mash-up of holiday movies, but the leads make it enjoyable

Noelle (2019) is a Disney+ original and a Christmas movie. In several ways, this feels like a TV movie in terms of plot, and – in several moments – visual effects. However, the cast takes the source material and more, then elevates it to a very watchable Christmas movie…even if it is clearly a mashup of much better movies. Again, I am a sucker for the themes and optimism that often comes in droves in these kinds of films, so maybe I’m just too forgiving. Then again, isn’t this the season that we’re supposed to be like that?

Noelle Kringle (Anna Kendrick) is the daughter of the now-late Santa, and the sister to Nick (Bill Hader), who is apprehensively taking over the family business. Nick’s anxiety is hitting a new high as Christmas quickly approaches, and his inadequacies begin to rise to the surface. Noelle suggests he partake in getaway for the weekend, but that turns into an extended leave of absence. In order to ensure Christmas happens and that her cousin, Gabrielle Kringle (Billy Eichner), doesn’t change all the traditions established by the Kringle’s who’ve worn the suit, she takes off in search of her missing brother. 

Kendrick is always great in the fish-out-of-water, slightly ditzy, yet unbelievably charming role. Noelle’s arrival in Arizona gives her character a very “Buddy the Elf” type vibe as she is charmingly unaware of almost everything in the “real” world. She is accompanied by her elf nanny/maid, Polly (Shirley MacLaine), and of course, the reindeer and sleigh. This odd pairing is an eyesore of sorts, but it definitely attracts a lot of attention as Noelle finds and hires private detective Jake Hapman (Kingsley Ben-Adir) to help track down Nick. 

If you haven’t picked up on it yet, the plot is kind of pointless and predictable. Early on, the film establishes a very simple checklist of the qualities a “good” Santa possesses. Throughout the course of the film, those boxes will be checked by the character who is best suited for the position. The movie crams in several elements that pay lipservice to bigger issues in society, and I can totally understand why someone may find this obnoxious or even detrimental. However, I took it as a light-hearted conflict that was needed to keep the movie going. It is very episodic, and things move quickly from one moment to the other while padding out the runtime to feature-length. NonethelesS -, between Hader and Kendrick – I was smiling and laughing through most of the TV movie quality scenes. 

Do you need to subscribe to Disney+ just to watch Noelle? No. However, if you had to see Baby Yoda or one of the other many things on the service and you like Christmas movie, I’d say give Noelle a chance. I would likely rewatch this come next holiday season, as it is charming enough and hits All the themes just right for me. Noelle earns the Decent Watch rating.

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