It’s all eyes on Anna Kendrick in Disney Plus’ NOELLE (2019)

The Christmas season of streaming movies has begun and here comes Disney with a somewhat progressive take on the classic ‘Santa’s successor’ story.

In Noelle, Anna Kendrick headlines stars as Noelle, the daughter of Santa who finds herself trying to keep Christmas afloat when her brother (Bill Hader) suddenly gets cold feet and leaves the North Pole.

Noelle sets out to craft a fairly straightforward story from the get-go. It puts all the pieces in place for the story to head in a certain direction and ticks all the boxes over its 1 hour and 40 minute runtime. That doesn’t mean there are no surprises as there are a number of smaller character-centric moments and a decent number of laughs spread generously throughout the film that make it an enjoyable watch. It’s a very charming story at its core that definitely captures the Christmas spirit in its tone and general aura.

It does slow down at a couple points towards the middle of the film to where it feels like it hasn’t really progressed in a while, but it never gets to the point of being boring thanks to the touching story. It really is the smaller moments that make this film. As a whole you’ve either seen a version of this story before or you know where it’s heading. Therefore, the heartfelt moments in here between certain characters, whether they be main or supporting, are what draw you in to the film and keep you engaged.

That Christmas spirit that keeps the film kicking is delivered heavily through Anna Kendrick’s loveable performance as you just can’t help feel the positive energy radiating off her. She emits this delightfully uplifting energy throughout the entire film from the moment she first appears. She is the heart and soul of this story and is the reason why it’s so enjoyable. Not only does she deliver the uplifting and emotional themes to perfection, but her comedic timing is and has always been stellar. There are a couple of genuinely hilarious moments that garner a good laugh and are the two moments that you remember at the end. She is the standout and no-one else really delivers as strongly.

When it comes to the supporting cast, a few people have a decent impact but no-one really stands out. Bill Hader is fine, and I say fine because he doesn’t have room in this story to be the ‘funny Bill Hader’ he is in his other projects. He’s a little subdued in his character and it’s a bit jarring to see him not be the funny guy across every scene. Kingsley Ben-Adir puts in a strong performance as one of the people Noelle meets along the way and I enjoyed his character, but he doesn’t hang in the film consistently. His character jumps in and out a bit so it doesn’t feel like he’s as much a part of the film as he could have been. Shirley MacLaine brings a touch of class to the film and has some nice moments alongside Anna Kendrick.

In the end, Noelle is just about what you’d expect from a positive and uplifting Christmas film from Disney. It’s charming and entertaining and is made thoroughly enjoyable almost entirely through Anna Kendrick who radiates positivity the entire time. Being one of the only new pieces of content on the Disney+ platform it’s a good watch to get into the Christmas spirit.

6.4/10

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