Original Streaming Movie Catch-Up Christmas in April Edition: ‘Noelle’

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CREDIT: Disney/YouTube Screenshot

I very, very, very, very, very much enjoyed watching Noelle. I watched it for the first time in April of 2020, MONTHS after the most recent Christmas. Maybe part of my enjoyment had to do with the fact that it wasn’t the holiday season, and I didn’t feel enormous pressure to be as festive as possible. My enjoyment also certainly had to do with the charming Anna Kendrick being charming in the lead title role. If you don’t find her charming, then I don’t know what to tell ya. You know what else I enjoyed? The future prospect of making Noelle a Christmas tradition. I love traditions! Especially ones that make me happy.

Okay, now that I’ve gotten all that positivity out there, I want to mention the one big, BIG thing about this movie that made me go, “Da fuhhh?” Every character … in this movie … wants … for Christmas … an iPad! Even the ones who are pointedly not materialistic and primarily want something like more time with Dad or a new job for unemployed Mom, also make sure to request of Noelle, daughter of Santa, “nd an iPad.” It is no great stretch to say that an appropriate alternate title would be Everybody Loves iPad. Did Apple underwrite part of this production? That doesn’t sound very Disney of a Disney+ original movie. Corporate synergy – what are ya gonna do!

I give Noelle 5 Merry Christmases and an iPad in a Pad Tree.

This Is a Movie Review: ‘A Simple Favor’ Might Just Be the Most Delightful Missing Girl Movie Ever

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CREDIT: Peter Iovino/Lionsgate

This review was originally posted on News Cult in September 2018.

Starring: Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding, Andrew Rannells, Aparna Nancherla, Kelly McCormack

Director: Paul Feig

Running Time: 117 Minutes

Rating: R for Aggressive Nude Paintings, Plenty of Oopsie Words, a Few Gunshots, and a Little Bit of Skinny Dipping

Release Date: September 14, 2018

What if the most super-prepared overachieving mom started hanging out with the scariest, most workaholic mom who never shows up to any classroom activities? As Andrew Rannells, the ringleader of A Simple Favor‘s Greek chorus of catty parents puts it, she’s going to eat her alive. But in fact prudish mommy blogger Stephanie Smothers (Anna Kendrick) and altogether aggressive fashion P.R. exec Emily Nelson (Blake Lively) become fast friends. They may be the oddest of odd couples, but their chemistry is sparkling and intense. Emily carelessly swears (quite hilariously) in front of her young son and swills afternoon martinis, which is miles beyond any life Stephanie has ever lived. But her unapologetic nature is intoxicating, and Stephanie is happy to latch onto the rare opportunity of discovering true friendship in adulthood.

Stephanie and Emily drinking away the afternoons could be an excellent formula for a twisted sitcom. But Emily, naturally enough, has her secrets, and this story is about her disappearance, and Stephanie grappling with how there is so much she doesn’t know about her friend and how she was always profoundly mysterious for as long as she’s known her. The black comedy of the first half gradually fades away, with Stephanie’s amateur sleuthing signaling a turn into high camp as she starts uncovering some key information.

It all culminates in Stephanie, Emily, and Emily’s husband Sean (Henry Golding) overdramatically play-acting the roles in the ridiculously over-the-top tale of intrigue that they are actually living. The switch between tones is such a hard swerve and a little disorienting. But I am willing to forgive that and call A Simple Favor a rousing success because Kendrick, Lively, and director Paul Feig are so adept at handling both tones, and because there are some genuine lessons about how to be a good, attentive parent in there. That level of grounding is what makes a domestic fantasy like this endure.

A Simple Favor is Recommended If You Like: Gone Girl, Mommy blogs and vlogs, Making fun of mommy blogs and vlogs, Yé-yé music

Grade: 4 out of 5 Real Martinis