It’s only a couple of days until Christmas! And, while there was no Disney+ Talk article last week (due to being ill from a newly discovered allergy), that doesn’t mean the festivities stop! The next Christmas film that I’ve picked is a Disney+ Original film. This was one that was on the initial Disney+ line-up when the streaming service arrived in 2019 but didn’t come to the UK one until November this year.
Written by Marc Lawrence (‘Music & Lyrics’, ‘Miss Congeniality’) ‘Noelle’ follows the Kringle family in the North Pole. After her brother, Nick Kringle flees the North Pole, it’s up to his sister Noelle to travel to America to try and find him, in the hopes that he’ll be able to successfully become the next Santa Clause.
Overall, ‘Noelle’ was a delightful Christmas film that will probably become a yearly December watch for me.
The cast is fantastic, and all have great chemistry with each other. Anna Kendrick (‘A Simple Favour’, ‘Scott Pilgrim vs The World’) is wonderful as the daughter of the previous Santa Clause, who becomes a fish out of water once she travels to America. Her responses to the outside world are very reminiscent of Buddy the Elf, however I found her performance more charming because of her innocent personality.
While Will Ferrell’s performance was played towards dark humour, Kendrick’s performance is more geared towards the charming innocence of a person. Bill Hader is also fantastic, as the next Santa Clause, who has no Christmas spirit and has no interest in being Santa Clause. It’s a breath of fresh air. While a previous Disney film (‘The Santa Clause’) touched on the idea that someone was to become Santa against their will, that film ended with the main character accepting it. So, it’s nice to see that this film keeps the character of Nick consistent in his way of thinking.
‘Noelle’ is also a fantastic Christmas film, as it is overloaded with Christmas spirit from the very beginning. The setting of the North Pole gives the film the opportunity to include as many holiday symbols as possible: snow, candy canes, elves, reindeer, jingle bells, presents, sweets and, of course, Santa. But the overwhelming nature of the film never felt annoying; these aspects mostly served as a backdrop for the story and were placed in the foreground when the story required it, without feeling forced. ‘Noelle’ also reminded me of ‘Arthur Christmas’ as we see Nick Kringle train to become Santa Clause and new technology is brought in as the years pass.
However, unlike the prementioned film, the technology doesn’t always work. The film brings into question whether old traditions should be thrown away or not, and it’s an interesting idea to introduce. Just because new technology makes Santa’s job easier, doesn’t always mean it’s a better solution in the long run.
While I really enjoyed ‘Noelle’, it does have a couple of flaws: the pacing is messy. The first act starts off strong, but then slows to a crawl once Noelle goes to search for her brother. It felt like the film was clawing for new scenes as it went along, just so it could be an hour and 45 minutes, when it could’ve easily have been an hour and 20-minute film. Nearly all the CGI looks fantastic and does a great job at bringing the North Pole to life. However, the CGI revolving around the reindeer was very odd, and close-up shots of the animals made them look like odd clay statues. It’s a shame that this is the only CGI failure throughout the entire film.
Despite its flaws, ‘Noelle’ was delightful. While it was a little too long, the performances were fantastic and charming. The setting of the North Pole was joyful and put a smile on my face, and the story was unique. Switch the Christmas tree lights on, grab some hot chocolate, wrap up in a blanket and enjoy this charming festive film!
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