With the spirit of the holidays upon us, it’s time for us to delve in and start focusing on some of the Christmas movies we’ve yet to see!
One of those is Noelle, which is now streaming on Disney+.
But is this movie worth your time, or even suitable for children at all? Despite being a Disney movie, the answer is only ‘maybe’, and in this Noelle review we’ll explain why.
Noelle Movie Overview
Note: This article contains spoilers.
Let’s first take a look at the plot of the movie.
At the beginning of the movie, we are presented with Santa returning home from a night of delivering presents to his two kids – Noelle and Nick. His son, Nick is to carry on the family role of Santa after his father passes away, whereas Noelle is told that her role is to support her brother.
In traditional Disney fashion, we then fast forward into the future, where the kids are grown up and Nick is set to begin preparations for his first Christmas as the new Santa Claus. Unfortunately, he doesn’t enjoy the responsibility of the role and runs off to Phoenix Arizona, a move that Noelle is blamed and criticized for by everyone else in the North Pole.
Needing a replacement, a new character named Gabe – a tech-centric, awkward loner type that seems set on taking away the spirit of Christmas – using algorithms to determine that almost everyone has been naughty, and suggesting gifts be delivered via the much more efficient, Amazon Prime network.
In a panic, Noelle escaped to Phoenix in search of her brother. She hires a private investigator to help him be found, but convincing him to return to the North Pole isn’t easy.
Throughout the movie, we discover that Noelle herself has all of the true gifts that make Santa Claus who they are – including gifts that never came intuitively to Nick, such as determining who was naughty and who was nice.
As the storyline continues to unfold, the characters realize that Noelle herself is truly the right person for the job.
What Parents Need To Know About Noelle
Let’s look over some of the things parents need to know about the movie Noelle, as this one may certainly lead to some divided opinions. To make things easier, we’ve broken it up into categories.
Violence: There is a short scene involving Noelle kicking a police officer at a shopping mall, and subsequently being arrested.
Language: No swearing is used in this film. However, there are minor insults to characters, such as the use of the word ‘loser’, and the phrase ‘shut up.’
Emotional: Noelle’s pet reindeer Snowcone is left behind after failing to catch up to the sleigh when Noelle leaves. Noelle visits a homeless shelter and meets a girl that is deaf, with a mother that is jobless and struggling. Noelle meets and becomes close to a boy whose parents are divorced, which is something the boy struggles with. The sleigh destroys a chimney after clumsily landing on a roof. A child mentions not believing that Santa is real. Several mall Santas are shown as being average people wearing costumes, rather than Santa Claus himself. Nick’s father, the previous Santa is mentioned as passed away. Noelle is heavily criticized by her peers after Nick leaves.
Sexual Content: There is no overt sexual content in this film. However, a manager of a mall has an obvious crush on a Petco employee, and hugs him.
Substance Abuse: Noelle picks up and sips a cocktail briefly, before spitting it out and setting it down (though to children, it just appears as a tropical drink.) No other illicit substances are used or referenced in this film.
Political: This movie addresses gender roles in a very unsubtle fashion, from the beginning to the end. The movie includes a dramatic scene that explains there is nothing preventing Santa Claus from being female. Some parents may feel the strong feminist undertones are inappropriate for a Christmas movie.
Other: Consumerism and class divide are highlighted in this movie. Jokes about all kids wanting (and later receiving) iPads are made repeatedly. References to Judaism and Buddhism are made. Noelle begins eating sunblock after not knowing what to do with it. Noelle is shown being catered to as an adult, with someone dedicated to making her food and doing her laundry.
Some people that may be affected more strongly by this movie include:
- Children with divorced parents. Note that in the end, the boy gets his wish and gets to spend Christmas with both sides of his family. We wanted to highlight this as we recognize this is not always possible (or desired) for divorced couples.
- Families that have struggled with homelessness.
- Children who have an image of Santa that goes against what this movie portrays. Noelle shows many Santas that appear as normal people outside of the uniform, including the character Nick himself. At the end of the movie, Noelle becomes the first female Santa.
Is this movie worth your time?
To be honest, Noelle is a movie that’s quite forgettable. While it can be a nice movie to watch with the kids at the end of the day, it’s probably not going to be one that makes your annual Christmas movie watchlist.
The story is full of clichés and is quite predictable, even from the very beginning. While the excessive use of puns and the quirkiness of Noelle make for a good few laughs, the film as a whole is suitable for passing the time but not one most people will be eager to return to.
That being said, my favorite part of the film was the way in which the movie delivered the all-so-common lesson about Christmas – how it’s not about what you receive, but what you can give to others. How you can make the world a little nicer, a bit more ‘jolly’ as they’d put it.
Throughout her time in Phoenix, Noelle is confronted with some of the harsh realities of life – disability, poverty, and internal family struggles. These are real issues that children are going through. As someone who has had a relatively easy life compared to the children in the film, it made me feel grateful for how fortunate I’ve been.
This is highlighted further when Noelle discovers what the kids want for Christmas. The girl in the homeless shelter wants her mother to be able to find a job. The child with divorced parents only wants to be with his entire family on Christmas. Even when these children could’ve asked for anything, they asked for something simple that most of us take for granted. We also learn that Christmas is not a happy time for everyone, as the holidays only highlight the struggles some people face in life. That being said, the movie is goofy and light-hearted throughout – it is a Christmas movie after all!
Parents may wish to talk with children afterwards about the spirit of Christmas, the realities of life, and what they can do to embody some of the Christmas spirit themselves.
All-in-all, Noelle can be summed up as Disney’s take on a traditional Hallmark Christmas movie. Though Anna Kendrick’s acting is great, it fails to lift up the predictable plot and low budget dedicated to this film. Though, the kids are likely to be much less harsh of a critic than I am!
What Is Noelle Rated?
Noelle has been given a rating of ‘G’ by the CARA. For details that parents may want to know about, refer to the section above.
Where Can You Watch The Movie Noelle?
Noelle is streaming on Disney+ and is a Disney+ original. This means that it is only available on Disney+, and not on other streaming services such as Hulu, Netflix, or Amazon Prime video. Additionally, there has not been any DVD or Blu-Ray release.
Where Was Noelle Filmed?
Despite taking place in Phoenix and showing a few shots from there, the majority of the movie was filmed elsewhere.
Vancouver BC and Woodstock Georgia also make up a large part of the setting, though Whistler – just north of Canada, makes up the majority of the filming. If you’ve ever been there, it makes sense that it’d be perfect for a wintery holiday film.
Who Is The Cast Of Noelle?
The cast of Noelle’s main characters is as following:
- Noelle Kringle – Anna Kendrick
- Nick Kringle – Bill Hader
- Polly – Shirley MacLaine
- Gabe – Billy Eichner
- Kingsley Ben-Adir – Jake Hapman
- Mrs. Claus – Julie Hagerty
- Alex – Maceo Smedley
When Did The Movie Noelle Come Out?
Noelle was released on November 12th, 2019 as a Disney+ exclusive – and actually launched the same day as Disney+ itself. There hasn’t been a release date for the DVD and Blu-Ray editions, which may never be produced by Disney.
How Long Is The Movie Noelle?
The running time for Noelle is 1 hour and 40 minutes.
Should you watch Noelle this holiday season?
If it sounds interesting to you, then go for it. However, its in my own personal opinion that you could miss this movie without feeling too bad about it. Additionally, due to the controversial opinions surrounding this film, parents may want to assess the above information and decide whether or not this movie is appropriate for their child.
Of course, we’d love to hear your opinions too. Share them via the comment form below – we could all benefit from hearing what you have to share!