With the launch of Disney+ comes the feature-film “NOELLE” starring Anna Kendrick, Bill Hader, and Shirley MacLaine, from writer/director Marc Lawrence. Just in time for the holiday season this film follows Noelle Kringle, the daughter of Santa Clause. When the family business needs help before Christmas, she goes in search for her brother only to discover a real world that isn’t as picture-perfect as she thought, where everyone isn’t as fortunate as others.
Holiday movies can be hit-and-miss. They are routinely festive and brighten the holiday spirit, but often to me, they can feel a too artificial. Making them feel like an extended Christmas commercial where everything is just right, filled with characters that feel more than unnatural. This movie has a mix of that, but it was still a very good time. It was heartwarming and despite the formulaic progression of it, I think it works for all ages. This one is rated-G and for that aspect it accomplishes what it should. There’s a simplistic plot-line and an endless supply of vibrant wardrobes and backdrops that can hold a kid’s attention. Yet there is a wittiness to the humor, and charming performances that can entertain the adults.
Finding a happy medium between something that can appeal to both children and adults isn’t easy. It’s primarily about balance and this movie provides that. There is no question the plot-line is familiar and easy to predict, however it still has an appealing holiday vibe to it. Plus, kids don’t want a layered plot-line that will keep them guessing. That’s when they check out. This story keeps it surface-level enough to connect with them. The story-line itself isn’t something aimed for the adult audience, I think that is where the dialogue and the physical humor come in to play.
Anna Kendrick was great in the lead with an aminated performance that dan draw amusement from all ages. As the story progresses and her fish-out-of-water tropes unfold it’s amusing regardless of these moments not necessarily feel very fresh. Kendrick brings a charm to the performance that makes her likable and fun to see through these situations. Her expressions are subtle at times, but they rouse some chuckles and that’s really what you want in a family movie. The Christmas theme is a constant and it creates a warm atmosphere to the story. It’s engaging and makes you want to see how things will play out, even if you can easily forecast it. Shirley MacLaine and Bill Hader add more comedic variety to the script and with their screen presence and timing they add plenty of their own laughable moments to keep the comedic side feeling fresh.
My main issue wasn’t the routine story-line or simplistic character-types as much as it was the length. I understand that it needs to be kept simple to engage kids throughout the run-time. But at more than 100 minutes, I felt some trimming could have been done to keep the pace more consistent. The result is a serviceable film that can appeal to a wide age range. But it’s also one that also gets mildly fatiguing by the time the third-act comes around. It doesn’t completely hinder the spirit of the movie and charisma from the characters, but it was a drawback. However, if you love Christmas movies and want to get the holiday juices flowing, this is certainly a movie that the family can sit around and enjoy.