G. It's the rare, G-rated live action film! I don't know if the MPAA actually had anything to do with this because it is on Disney+, but I'm floored that I'm able to show my kids something live action. I don't know what I could really object to. One of the stories surrounds a divorced family, which is weird to put in a parental advisory guide. There's a lot of product placement? Is that something that parents should watch out for? Yoga? I don't know. It's a well-deserved G-rating.
DIRECTOR: Marc Lawrence
The universe really wants to test my resolve to write regularly. It feels good to write. It's sparking the positive dopamines / I'm-Not-a-Doctor that align with my sense of productivity / made-up-jargon. I just got the worst grade on a paper in my class. Admittedly, that terrible grade was a 90%, but it really bummed me out. Part of writing, and this is me trying to sound inspirational, is remembering that you aren't always going to be perfect. Some things you write will be good. Some things you write will be trash. But the point is to keep writing and striving to be better. I really liked writing about both Frozen II and Knives Out. This is me getting back on that horse and refusing to let a little rough commentary sway me. That being said, today is not the day to offer suggestions about my twin spaces after a period. Not today, Satan!
While Noelle's greatest success is the fact that it is a low-stakes live action movie that I can watch with my kids, Noelle offers doses of healthy morality coupled with a seasonably-appropriate good time. From watching the trailer, Noelle seems to be a movie that shows how Santa doesn't have to be a male, which was enough to get me to watch it in the first place. However, I want to look at Noelle from the point of view of the titular character and how Noelle is actually kind of a dynamic character. From moment one, Lawrence shows how sweet Noelle is. As a child, she is in love with Christmas. She is unabashedly in love with Christmas, despite the fact that Santa is her father. In a world where the concept of Santa is a legacy situation, kinda-sorta similar to how it works in The Santa Clause, different members of the Kringle lineage view Christmas in different lights. The world of the North Pole carries a sense of pride for the notion of Christmas. But Christmas, in a world where Christmas is all there is, merits different reactions. Her brother Nick, views Christmas from the perspective of an unwanted job. The world around Noelle almost refects the attitude of Google employees.
Noelle's dedication to Christmas on a personal level is what makes her a compelling, but flawed character. Instead of presenting Noelle in a negative light, she is instantly admirable as a protagonist. She is optimistic and empathetic, relating to all around her despite the glaring shadow that haunts the hierarchy of the North Pole. But the movie quickly establishes that Noelle isn't perfect. As positive and joyful as she is, there's also something materialistic about Noelle. She loves Christmas because it is how it satisfies her. I love that Lawrence and his team don't really spell it out in those words, but shows through indirect characterization how she needs to transcend that understanding of Christmas to fulfill the needs of the town.
From moment one, it is apparent that Noelle is to be the next Santa Claus over Nick and Gabriel. There is an otherness about her with how she views the vocation that makes sense. Also, people probably know what movie they are watching when they get into it. The movie plays around with the idea that, at any minute, Noelle will just BE Santa. Toying with external conflicts, like finding her missing brother and convincing him to return, the movie actually presents a formula that we have seen in other forms. Maybe it was because I had such low expectations for a Disney+ original movie, but it is in the understanding of her flaws that allow her to transcend vapid optimism and to become truly caring. Noelle, slightly through no fault of her own, hadn't really interacted with people in need. She cares for an animal, which is good, I guess. But people with actual problems seem to be a distant concept. If the spirit of Christmas is giving, Noelle really hadn't had that opportunity prior to do that.
With her interactions with the people of Phoenix, Arizona, problems become much more concrete. Well, they become as concrete as a Disney streaming movie will allow. People's problems aren't "I want to be Santa" or "Where's all the holiday spirit?" For a character so obsessed with the Christmas spirit, a 'la Buddy the Elf, Noelle isn't really all that judgey about people's choices. With Jake, she vocalizes her concern for his kid, which may seem inappropriate, but that is also because the two have quickly bonded. It may be movie logic, but it also is meant to reflect an honest concern for the two that an outsider can provide. Again, I'm going to stress that you should not comment on your friends' parenting habits. But for Noelle, this moment is important. She starts to see real problems and is in a position to grow as a moral person. It is her fish-out-of-water quality that allows her this unique insight.
But I love that Noelle kind of sucks at her job at first. The suit doesn't fit. That's a brilliant move. Instead of that odd idealism that a lot of kids movies have where "If I want something enough, I'll be amazing at it", it takes genuine practice for her to become Santa. Again, for the sake of film logic, one night of delivering presents gets her that understanding. It's a montage and we have to understand that. Being Santa is more than just giving presents and knowing routines. It is about love and compassion. She doesn't mean to wake up the tenants of the homeless shelter, which is just adorable and depressing at the same time. That moment matters. She is doing something for people who have nothing. It's perhaps too optimistic of an idea for reality, but it is the way that the world should be. Taking care of the people who have the least is the focus of the season. It's absolutely gorgeous. A lot of my love from this movie comes from this over-analysis of small moments, but that's really okay for me.
Unlike The Santa Clause, Noelle is always a good person. Scott from Santa Clause (I think that's his name. I could easily look it up, but I'm so close to the end that I just don't want to lose momentum) is kind of a jerk who learns the meaning of Christmas through his actions. I will applaud that, but I want to contrast it to Noelle. Buddy from Elf has the same attitude that Noelle has, but the story isn't about his character change. It's about the other people in the story being dynamic characters. Noelle is a good person who actually becomes a better person. The movie stresses that flaws and mistakes don't make you a bad person, but we should still learn from those mistakes to make the world better. Also, the movie has a rad attitude about feminism that I can get behind. Sometimes, the tradition kind of sucks. Sometimes, people aren't born for jobs. Noelle was a fun movie that I'll probably not rewatch, but I dug it while it was on. It's a fun time.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.