Movie review by
Jennifer Green, Common Sense Media
Noelle Movie Poster Image
Popular with kids
Xmas comedy has predictable storylines, positive messages.
  • G
  • 2019
  • 100 minutes

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 18 reviews

Kids say

age 6+
Based on 12 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Takeaways for school-age kids will revolve around positive lessons of believing in yourself, not judging a book by its cover, treating others kindly, valuing human connections over material possessions.

Positive Messages

Christmas is about giving rather than getting, and we can extend the Christmas spirit throughout the year by being kind and thoughtful with loved ones and strangers alike. Traditions, even Santa's gender, can change. Family is a priority. Everyone makes mistakes and everyone, especially kids, should be forgiven for those mistakes. Believe in yourself and follow your own destiny.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Despite regularly sarcastic tones and mostly innocent errors, Santa's grown children, loyal elves, and assistants ultimately just want to bring joy to the world. Noelle is kindness embodied. Humans that Noelle and Nick encounter in Phoenix are mostly good people trying to get by in a sometimes cruel and lonely world.

Violence & Scariness

Some out-of-control sleigh rides and falling down chimneys take place as Noelle and Nick learn their craft. Noelle's pet reindeer baby has some harmless accidents.

Sexy Stuff

The mall manager has a crush on a Petco employee and extends an innocent hug with him.


Characters insert holiday-themed words into exclamations and arguments, like "Oh my garland," "Thank garland," "Stocking half empty," and "You better not pout, you better not cry."


Characters, including Santa's daughter early on, are confused about the true meaning of Christmas revolving around receiving the perfect gift. Stores at a mall include Cole Haan, Tommy Hilfiger, Petco, Saks Fifth Avenue, Taco Bell, Sunglass Hut, Old Navy, Supercuts, Michael Kors. A running joke involves every kid wanting an iPad for Christmas. Other brands seen or mentioned: Cheerios, Ford, Volvo, George Foreman Grill, My Little Pony, Phoenix Suns, Arizona State, Travel & Leisure magazine, Men's Health magazine, Amazon Prime.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Noelle is appropriate for the whole family but will likely appeal most to grade-schoolers, who are likely to feel the most connection with its holiday-spirit messages, storylines, and humor, as well as with star Anna Kendrick. Younger viewers might be less interested in the central storyline of Noelle's brother, a young man who runs away because he feels trapped by an inherited profession. His newfound yoga vocation could also stretch past their interest zone. But tween audiences will enjoy th empowering tale of a daughter perennially overlooked for a position she turns out to be the most qualified for. The subplots of kids being deemed naughty or nice and families seeking togetherness and well-being over material possessions offer positive messages for all ages. Language, sexual content, and violence are essentially absent, but brand names are rampant (this is a Christmas movie, after all).

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 7-year-old Written byWarrenbokke December 7, 2019

Talks about not believing in Santa

Fun, family movie with many inside jokes for adults while keeping it fun for kids. Unfortunately there is talk about kids and adults not believing in Santa so i... Continue reading
Adult Written byA.starry.night November 28, 2019

Very Disappointed

*While a recommended age selection is required, I honestly would recommend no one, child or adult wastes an hour and a half of their life watching this film.
I... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byOddball20 December 23, 2019

Not my favorite

This movie was definitely sweet and family friendly but not a lot keeping it exiting and fun to watch.
I personally didn’t enjoy this movie a lot.
It is still a... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byMoviegirl700 November 23, 2019

Movie has predictable plot, good characters.

I went into Noelle with only two thoughts in mind: 1, that I would go through with it simply because Anna Kendrick starred, and 2, that maybe my brothers would... Continue reading

What's the story?

NOELLE (Anna Kendrick) is Santa's daughter and also sister to Nick Kringle (Bill Hader), recently anointed Santa to replace his deceased father. The problem is that Nick doesn't seem to have what it takes to master the basic requirements of the job -- sliding down chimneys and steering the sleigh -- let alone the more complex tasks, intuiting what people really want and whether they've been naughty or nice. When Nick runs away to Phoenix, Noelle and her sassy elf assistant Polly (Shirley MacLaine) chase after him. There they encounter complexities of American life like homelessness, divorce, and loneliness. Noelle enlists private investigator Jake (Kingsley Ben-Adir), a divorced dad to sweet kid Alex (Maceo Smedley), to help her hunt down her brother. When she finds Nick, it slowly dawns on them all that she's the woman for the job.

Is it any good?

This takes the formula for a feel-good holiday movie and throws in a few twists, including a gender role reversal, some modern humor, foot-tapping tunes, and updated versions of the North Pole. Older audiences may get a chuckle from jokes about delivering presents by drone and Amazon Prime, adjusting algorithms to track kids' online habits to determine their naughtiness, and the appearance of a typically droll Shirley MacLaine. There are also a couple of nods to non-Christians, potentially as outreach to wider audiences, including a line Noelle delivers that "Christmas is like sushi: The Japanese invented it but now everybody loves it."

That may be true, but as with sushi lovers, film fans notice the imperfections, and Noelle stumbles in a few places. An intro of the Kringle family when the siblings were kids feels unnecessary and contributes to a slightly long runtime. CGI creatures -- reindeer and puffins -- are somewhat out of place in this ultimately human tale. A running reference to Noelle as a "princess" threatens to subvert the feminist storyline. Comparisons to Elf (another North Pole creature-meets-world tale) will be inevitable, and while Kendrick's Noelle is sweeter, she's not quite as funny. Still, Christmas is about setting aside petty complaints and -- as Noelle and Polly remind us in final scenes -- finding hope, inspiration, and joy in the holiday spirit. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how they would react if an icon like Santa changed genders, as happens in Noelle. How much of the symbolism of Santa Claus is wrapped up in his traditional depiction as a jolly, white-bearded old man? Can you imagine a female Santa?

  • When he's appointed Santa, Noelle's cousin Gabe invents an algorithm that determines almost all kids are naughty because of minor infractions like not flossing or not eating their veggies. Why do others at the North Pole consider this so unfair?

  • How does this film compare with other Christmas movies you've watched?

  • What do the holidays mean to you?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love the holidays

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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