Its official. DisneyPlus is live, and the conglomerate seems poised to continue taking over the world. So let's say you are among the countless who ordered the app and are now hard at work streaming and seeing all the possibilities that lay before you. One of the pressures of any streaming service is the making of original content. There are probably several people who have collected Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars movies over the years. So there needs to be more to draw people to these services, and Disney is trying to prove they are ready for the task of wowing patrons.
It seems "The Mandalorian, "the new Star Wars live-action show, is destined to suck all the air out of the room when it comes to conversation around DisneyPlus, so the big question is, what else is on the app? One is a new movie called "Noelle" a family comedy starring Anna Kendrick and Bill Hader. With those two right there, that's a decent draw that I was personally interested. I love both of these actors abashedly and I was curious to see what they were up to here.
"Noelle" is the story of the Kringle family. The Kringles have been serving the people around the world for two thousand years. Each male lead of the Kringle family has been Santa Claus and they have passed the torch of this legend, generation through generation. The movie opens with the recent Santa coming home on Christmas Eve after a hard night's work of deliveries. Santa then delivers his gifts to his two own children, Nick and Noelle. This Christmas in particular is special for Nick, because Santa has chosen to begin training Nick to take his place in the Santa mantel. As Nick begins to be excited, Noelle asks what she can do to help, but since she's already in charge of Christmas cards, her father gives her much good stroke.
In typical Disney fashion, can you tell where this story is going? Just like with any other Disney movie featuring a Disney princess, Noelle wants to do more during this time to help people and to make them happier that time of year. As Noelle and Nick get older, they are played by Kendrick and Hader respectively. Nick is having trouble adapting to becoming Santa, and he's feeling the pressure of filling his father's shoes. When Noelle suggests taking a vacation, Nick takes it and blows it out of proportion. He leaves and never comes back, with Christmas Eve just days away, Noelle must find Nick so that he can deliver gifts.
Just discussing the plot, you probably know where this movie is headed. I am sure traditionalists will hate everything this movie stands for. Especially with the slight controversy last year when a petition was created to make Santa Claus gender neutral. The movie doesn't focus on whether or not Santa should be a man or a woman, but rather reminds us that the most important thing to remember this time of year is be good to each other, make sure we are all happy. The world is a dark place most of the time, and its the holiday season where people inspire good in each other and that's what its all about. This is all wrapped in the typical Disney anesthetic, and its a mostly entertaining package.
Like I said, Kendrick and Hader have great chemistry together, and their relationship is the glue to the whole movie. They both do good work here. Shirley McClaine does funny work as Kendrick's elf sidekick throughout the movie. Bill Eichner appears as Kendrick's cousin who assumes the Santa mantel and uses a technology app to determine who has been naughty and who has been nice, and it s a very touchy app to say the least. This presents one of the most interesting concepts of the movie, and creates the usual villain of each Disney movie, but this sub-plot is swept off the rug fairly quickly, which I thought was a mistake.
The bottom line though is that families will probably enjoy this one during the upcoming Christmas season.
FINAL GRADE: B