Disney’s Noelle is Exactly What You Expect
Written by Jenn Noga on December 1, 2019
Where to Watch: Disney+
Runtime: 100 Minutes
With the release of Disney+ came the megacorp’s first attempt at original movies and frankly, I was a little underwhelmed by it all.
The quick spoiler-free version of the plot is as follows.
Kris Kringle’s daughter is full of Christmas spirit and holiday fun but wishes she could do something “important” like her beloved brother Nick, who will take over for their father this Christmas. Nick is training to be Santa but is failing miserably. When Nick is about to crumble like a gingerbread cookie from all the pressure, Noelle suggests he take a break and get away to clear his head…but then he doesn’t return.
I was really excited to see Noelle because of Bill Hader and Anna Kendrik, two actors whom I adore and give amazing performances. Anna and Bill really nail the dynamics of siblings, something that doesn’t seem to come naturally to a lot of actors these days.
Noelle is your cookie-cutter Disney Channel Original Movie, whether that was the intent or not. It’s highly predictable, which the older I get I realized they’ve all been designed that way.
I had the end of the movie figured out like halfway through the whole film, and I only stayed because I really would lay down my life for Snowcone the reindeer.
I’m sure that people who are really into Christmas, ie if you have a younger sibling, would really enjoy it. While I was a little bored during it, it wasn’t the worst Christmas movie I’ve ever seen. It really was just OK in my book. Nothing really to write home about for me, but I’m sure my little cousins would be all over this thing.
Now… here’s where we enter into spoiler territory so be warned.
SPOILER WARNING FROM HERE ON OUT
Noelle starts like any other Disney Christmas movie does, with a child full of glee staying up to catch Santa. Only the plot twist Santa is her Dad. Instead of getting regular gifts like us normal people, Santa brings his daughter things from around the world like magazines about places around the world.
The kids open their presents like true animals, flinging tiny tiny pieces of wrapping paper around the living room. Wrapping paper is so hard to clean up the smaller it gets, also you reach the present MUCH quicker if you take it all off in big pieces.
The brother gets a Santa hat as a signal to start his Santa training. The girl shows an interest in the family business only to get told that her job is to spread Christmas cheer with her cards.
Also, we find out that this little girl’s name is Noelle and then it dawned on me that she’s our protagonist because that’s the name of the movie.
So we flash forward now that the kids are older, and this is the first Christmas after their Dad had died. Nick (Bill Hader) has been training for Christmas only he’s not doing a fantastic job at it. There’s the supportive mom, the entire tech crew, Cousin Gabe (Billy Eichner), a random group of singing elves that are just everywhere.
Noelle (Anna Kendrick) is still continuing to follow the advice of her dad and is still making Christmas Cards and making a DAMN MESS. STILL. This is pointed out by her longtime nanny Polly (Shirley McLane).
There’s a quick little spoof of that princess call, you know where they sing and a flock of animals just show up? Noelle just ends up yelling for Snowcone which was funny, mostly due to Kendrick’s delivery. It felt more like her than anything else in the movie.
So the mode of transportation in this North Pole Village is speed skating…apparently. You know I don’t really know either but I guess that’s how everyone stays fit.
Noelle is kind of a spoiled princess and the line about Gabe calling her brother Nick instead of Santa really just rubbed me the wrong way.
Everyone in the workshop knows that Nick is not ready, but Nick doesn’t know that Nick’s not ready. Noelle “does her job” to bring Christmas cheer and helps Nick study about 2,000 years worth of Santa lore.
We learn a variety of things about Santa’s powers. Santa can understand all languages, can look at a child and tell if their naughty or nice, and the big one of knowing what kids want for Christmas.
Nick and I are really on the same level of not knowing what’s happening EVER and being about 30 seconds from a mental breakdown. Here are a few screencaps I highly relate to because it may be the only interesting thing about this article.
Noelle tells Nick to take the weekend to clear his head except HE LEAVES AND RETURNS THE SLED TO THE NORTH POLE. The town falls into Christmas themed anarchy they say that no one is to blame for this except they all blame Noelle. Gabe becomes the next Santa because he is the next male in the Kringle lineage.
So Noelle goes on a rescue mission WITHOUT Snowcone, whom I would gladly give my entire life for, in a John Snow not petting his dog type way. I mean I watched this baby reindeer chase after Noelle and Polly in the sleigh and my heart BROKE.
Noelle deduces that Nick is in Phoenix, Arizona, and the sleigh crash lands into an outdoor mall. We meet Helen (Diana Maria Riva), the mall manager who has a massive crush on this guy that works at Petco (who is played by Burgess Jenkins).
Polly stays at the mall with the reindeer, while Noelle goes on the hunt for Nick. She meets PI Jake Hapman (Kingsley Ben-Adir) and his son Alex (Maceo Smedley). We learn that Jake and his ex-wife are divorced, which causes some tension in Alex’s Christmas wish.
Alex is also a wholesome bean who is worth protecting.
On the hunt for Nick, Noelle starts to be able to distinguish if people are naughty or nice for the first time by just looking at them. She’s also able to sign ASL to a little girl Michelle without knowing the language herself. She seems to know what Alex wants for Christmas without even talking to him about it.
At this point, I’m pretty sure Noelle is going to be Santa by the end of this movie.
Nick is now a Yoga teacher in Arizona. Nick and Noelle get into a fight and Nick calls her out on being selfish and self-conceited. He doesn’t want to leave because he knows that he doesn’t want to be Santa.
Back at the North Pole, Cousin Gabe is really running Christmas into the damn ground. He’s using an algorithm to decide if children are naughty or nice. Out of the millions of children on the planet, only 2,000 of them are nice. Each child on the naughty list received an automated message throwing the real world into chaos. Gabe royally sucks as well as the Elder Elf Abe because he’s not being helpful AT ALL.
Noelle finds out this information thanks to Snowcone who’s made a cute little reappearance. She goes to find Nick and bring him home but with no luck. Nick has a change of heart and joins Noelle at the mall. She convinces him to give being Santa a test run, only we see Noelle’s full display of powers. Knowing another language, telling if someone’s naughty or nice, and even what Alex really wants for Christmas.
Jake confronts Noelle at the mall about this and she explains to Jake the full story of who she is, only he doesn’t believe her.
This whole plan goes awry when the mall Santa shows up and Noelle tries to fight him, only she ends up kicking a cop. She is very promptly arrested and put on a psychiatric hold because that’s the thing you do I guess. We do however get this iconic line from Nick which in all honesty should be given an award for.
Polly and Jake hatch a plan to get Noelle out of the psych ward, which involves Noelle jumping on a sleigh from an eleven-story window. Polly, Noelle and Nick motor on back to the North Pole to stop the impending anarchy. Nick gives the Santa title to Noelle, and after a heartwarming speech, it’s full speed ahead to Christmas.
It’s now Christmas Eve and Noelle is on here way to be Santa. She’s worried that a kid will see her and think she’s not Santa. She employees the help of our trusty sidekick Snowcone to lead the sleigh and she’s off.
As all things are when you do them for the first time it’s VERY rough and plenty of things go wrong. I mean she misses a whole country and shows up to a family celebrating Hanukkah. She arrives over Phoenix, Arizona and visits the shelter where Michelle and her mother are staying and accidentally wakes everyone up.
Michelle signs Merry Christmas Santa to Noelle, and it’s what gives her the confidence to actually be Santa. It was a really sweet moment.
With her newfound confidence, she goes back and corrects her mistakes, and even brings Jake to Alex so he can get his Christmas wish. Everyone else that Noelle met in her time in Arizona got what they really wanted too. She’s welcomed back home as Santa Noelle and decided to use her new position to open a Yoga studio for Nick to teach at and appoints Polly the first female Elder Elf.
Her sled is covered in thank you notes from the people she’s met along the way. She realizes that giving presents is better than receiving them and she has finally turned into a decent human being.
Roll credits and that’s the end of that! If you’ve seen the movie how did I do? Have any suggestions for my next review? Let me know!