“Santa’s daughter must take over the family business when her father retires and her brother, who is supposed to inherit the Santa role, gets cold feet.”

Director: Marc Lawrence
Writer: Marc Lawrence
Staring: Anne Kendrick, Shirley MacLaine, Bill Hader, Kingsley Ben-Adir
Release Date: November 12, 2019

T’is the damn season, so let’s dive into some Christmas movies.

Noelle (2019) had been on my Disney+ watchlist since Disney+ came out. I finally tackled the family comedy and guess what, I liked it a lot. It is the perfect movie to shut your brain off and absorb the Hallmark comedy cheesiness. Noelle hits all the beats you want but has enough charm to keep the engine churning even if the tracks are all too familiar.

The Kringle family is in charge of the North Pole, and therefore in charge of making sure that Christmas runs smoothly. It is a family business and the next in line to where the big red suit is Nick Kringle (Bill Hader). The reluctant member of the Noel family gets lots of motivation and inspiration from those chose to him, none more so than Noelle Kringle (Anna Kendick). Being the young girl in the family growing up, Noelle has put it upon herself to be the cheery, always positive and ultimate morale coach for the Kringle family.

When Noelle talks to her brother and tells him to take a recent to reset…she doesn’t expect him to take essentially a permanent vacation to Arizona to become a hot yoga instructor. It is up to Noelle to travel to the foreign land, find her brother, and save Christmas as we know it.

But what does Noelle need to save Christmas from? Well, in the North Pole, a nasty little elf by the name of Gabriel (Billy Eichner) has taken helm of the reigns and toy production. He has radical idea, like making everything technical, shortening the nice list by exponential degrees. The concept of “nice” under Gabriel is pretty much angelic; if you sneezed without covering your mouth then you would get no presents.

Noelle has help on the journey to save Christmas. After touching down with her reindeer in Phoenix, Noelle quickly meets various humans who are all perplexed by her far too cheery demeanor. The most important person she meets is a private investigator Jake Hapman (Kinglsey Ben-Adir). He helps Noelle find her brother, and in return, Noelle helps him have the perfect Christmas with his son. It is a difficult time for Jake because he is recently divorce, so trying to find the proper dose of holiday cheer is not easy. Luckily for him, Noelle is a heavy does of Christmas spirit.

The over arching plot that unfurls over the course of Noelle is that there is a vacancy at the Santa Clause position. As one can assume from watching any Christmas movie ever, Noelle begins discovering that she has the magic needed to succeed in the pressure filled role. She can sense people’s deepest wishes. She can speak all the languages. She has the magic to get up and down the chimneys. Noelle has all the tools, she just needs the green light…or a Rudolph leading red light.

Noelle is a perfectly enjoyable Christmas movie, but please don’t expect an absolute masterpiece. There are plenty of moments meant strictly for the kids. There is a CGI baby reindeer that is purely to draw an “awww” from the crowed and model toys after. There is a scene with sun screen that is predicable for any out-of-place comedy. Don’t forget to toss in an older wise women who lets people learn their own lessons but comes in with sage advice when most needed. Also elvish slapstick moments and Christmas puns are a plenty.

Noelle works for this Christmas season because it has a cast that buys into the movie’s purpose. Anna Kendrick embraces the cheesiness of the movie and doesn’t shy away from the reason it is made. Bill Hader is never a bad part of a movie so he fits the comedic mold well. Bill Eichner plays the bossy elf with her patent loud voice. Shirley MacLaine as Elf Polly hits her notes with grace, and Kingsley Ben-Adir toes the romantic interest and just really kind guy line with just enough leeway.

It should shock no one that Noelle isn’t going to way anyone with the way it looks or the way it is edited. Noelle is a plug-and-play movie. Hit the beats, and it will sing. That is why it is the perfect type of movie for someone like writer and director Marc Lawrence, who has only directed five movies, and this is his first since 2014. If you want to set yourself up for success, get a great cast and direct a movie that fits into a genre. It’s makes everything palatable.

T’is the damn season. Throw on Noelle on a cold night. Light the fire, sip the hot cocoa, and open up Disney+. You can chill on your phone, talk to your partner and snuggle up to a pillow. Let this perfectly harmless enjoyable form of Christmas entertainment warm you up.

STANKO RATING: A- (4.0/5 Stars)

P.S. Noelle had to be early on in the Anna Kendrick and Bill Hader romance. They were together for over a year before it was made public, and they didn’t split till recently this past June. There are numerous gossip websites that say they met on the set of Noelle. I liked them together. Wish they would have made it.

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