CANDY CANE LANE
December 1, 2023 / Prime Canada
Starring: Eddie Murphy, Tracee Ellis Ross, Jillian Bell, Thaddeus J. Mixson, Ken Marino, Nick Offerman, Robin Thede, Chris Redd, Genneya Walton
Directed By: Reginald Hudlin
Eddie Murphy stars in this holiday comedy adventure about a man on a mission to win his neighborhood’s annual Christmas home decoration contest. After Chris (Eddie Murphy) inadvertently makes a deal with a mischievous elf named Pepper (Jillian Bell) to better his chances of winning, she casts a magic spell that brings the 12 Days of Christmas to life and wreaks havoc on the whole town. At the risk of ruining the holidays for his family, Chris, his wife Carol (Tracee Ellis Ross), and their three children must race against the clock to break Pepper’s spell, battle deviously magical characters and save Christmas for everyone.
Written By Darren
Rating 3 out of 5
Candy Cane Lane is a fun holiday watch thanks to the delightful pairing of Eddie Murphy and Tracee Ellis Ross, even if the story doesn’t bring anything different to the holiday genre that viewers haven’t seen before.
With so many Christmas films, it’s hard for there to be anything truly original in the genre. They all revolve around the same moral themes of family, that the spirit of Christmas is found with loved ones and not consumer goods, and that holiday decorating competitions bring out the worst in people. It’s a tried and proven formula that always delivers an enjoyable film, which is why audiences always come back for more holiday goodness, and that is exactly what Candy Cane Lane delivers. It’s full of holiday hijinks, lots of laughs and a simplistic storyline, that despite the fact it is not going to be the next holiday classic, it’s a fun watch for the entire family to enjoy.
After being laid off with a change in management at work right before Christmas, Chris Carver is determined to win the neighbourhood house decorating contest with a big cash prize on the line. But Chris gets more than he bargained for after he makes a deal with Pepper, one of Santa’s elves, who brings to life the 12 Days of Christmas, unleashing a magical chaos on the neighbourhood that only the Carver family can stop.
It’s hard to imagine that Candy Cane Lane marks Eddie Murphy’s first Christmas film, but that alone is going to be enough for audiences to give the film a spin one night this holiday season. As he always is, Murphy is a great comedic lead as he finds a fun energy that captures the holiday spirit. Tracee Ellis Ross makes for a wonderful co-lead for Murphy, matching Murphy’s energy and actually out shining him at times with her caring but a little too honest mother. Murphy and Ross are a great team in the film, and it is their lead performances that make the film a fun holiday experience. The young actors playing the Carver children are all great, especially young Madison Thomas as the youngest Holly who has some delightful moments throughout the film alongside Murphy. Jillian Bell’s villainous Pepper is fun, even if she is a little too much at times, and the supporting cast of Nick Offerman, Ken Marino, Chris Redd, Robin Thede, Timothy Simons and Danielle Pinnock deliver some of the best laughs of the film.
The plot of Candy Cane Lane may be simple, but it has everything you want for a holiday film. There is an exuberant amount of holiday puns that will elicit some great laughs, as well as some great social commentary jokes and jabs at influencers for older viewers to enjoy. The plot is predictable and the story points feel right out of a Hallmark holiday film, but for the holiday genre that is not necessarily a bad thing as it keeps the film light and enjoyable. The stakes never feel high as you know this film has to have a happy ending with a lesson about the true meaning of Christmas, but it’s a fun adventure getting there even if the film is about ten minutes too long. Not all the jokes land, but with a fun cast and a festive spirit throughout, Kelly Younger’s screenplay is exactly what is required by the holiday genre to make an entertaining film.
In terms of Christmas, the film is full of the holiday spirit. From an excessive amount of Christmas decorations to create the titular Candy Cane Lane, Pepper’s magical Christmas store which feels like a mini version of Santa’s workshop, and even some fake snow, the production design sets the tone of the film. There are some very awful moments of bad CGI that are truly distracting, but given it’s a Christmas film, it’s easy to look past them as the rest of the film is everything you want it to be. Plus, it even has Pentatonix as a group of miniature ceramic carolers to help narrate the film at times through their harmonious covers of classic Christmas carols that is the perfect addition to the film.
While it may not be a Christmas film that is revisited every year, Candy Cane Lane is pure fun that alone warrants a viewing. It’s a charming film that evokes the holiday spirit from start to finish, combined with some great comedic moments from the supporting cast and the wonderful pairing of Eddie Murphy and Tracee Ellis Ross in the lead roles, making it a Christmas film that you can easily see yourself hitting play on every couple of years. Full of holiday cheer and some truly fun holiday moments, Candy Cane Lane is an entertaining watch thanks to the lead performances of Eddie Murphy and Tracee Ellis Ross and the talented supporting cast that delivers some of the film’s funniest moments.