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Review: Anna Kendrick livens disposable Disney comedy 'Noelle'

Courtesy of Disney


Disney used to be the top dog in holiday themed films, especially ones taking place during the yuletide season. But long gone are the days of mid-budget films akin to “The Santa Clause” making it to the big screen, and thus “Noelle” on Disney’s streaming platform is born. While not in the same ballpark as what Tim Allen and company did with those Santa movies, “Noelle” does represent the type of small scale, moderately budgeted, Christmas themed film Disney used to make, and it fits perfectly on your screen at home with stars Anna Kendrick and Bill Hader helping chug things along.

Kendrick and Hader play Noelle and Nick Kringle, children of Kris and his wife (Julie Hagerty). For 2,000 years, generations of Kringles have been a North Pole dynasty, with the pops in the house working all year to prepare for his Christmas Eve mission. But now Dad has passed away, and Nick isn’t sure he’s ready for the succession plan.

From the early days, Noelle hoped to grow up and play a bigger part in the family operation, but Dad insisted her job be to help Nick. Now, decades later, it doesn’t matter that Noelle has the Book of Santa memorized and Nick can’t even go down a chimney right. Law dictates he’s the one who’ll do the job, and she’s to sit at home hoping things go well.

That is until Nick decides, at Noelle’s insistence, to take a break from all the chaos and travel somewhere warm. Except he never comes back, abandoning his job without even sending a letter home explaining himself. The line of succession then falls on the next closest male relative, his nephew Gabe (Billy Eichner). Understanding her role in his disappearance and facing considerable backlash from her peers, Noelle hijacks the reindeer for a cross-country quest to find Nick in Phoenix, Arizona.

There she links up with private investigator Jake Hapman (Kinglsey Ben-Adir) and his eight year son Alex (Maceo Smedley) to help track Nick down. But along the way the script is peppered with silly Christmas jargon like “Oh, my garland!” or if you want to ask Noelle a question, she’ll reply “I’m all earmuffs.” Romantic comedy veteran Marc Lawrence is right in casting Kendrick for this bubbly role, but you can see the parallels from “Elf” coming miles away.

Still, Kendrick steals the show and her presence alone is what gives this disposable and forgettable Disney flick some life. It’s all sappy and predictable just like any Hallmark picture, and it’s fairly harmless considering you won’t have to pack up the tykes in the car and spend an arm and a leg to see it. In that regard, make some hot chocolate, throw on some comfy PJs, and put “Noelle” on for a breezy Saturday morning watch. After that, it won’t be long before it disappears into the pathos of the Disney engine and off your radar for good. Ho Ho! '

Grade: C+

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