Candy Cane Lane focuses on the holiday tradition of neighborly competitiveness. It is not the perfect holiday flick. But thanks to Eddie Murphy’s infectious smile, Tracee Ellis Ross, and the cast playing the little ornaments, Candy Cane Lane is a welcome holiday movie addition. There’s laughter, great Christmas music, caroling, and that time-old message of spreading joy and love. Candy Cane Lane deserves inclusion into any person’s holiday classic collection.
Written by Kelly Younger and directed by Reginald Hudlin, the film follows the Carver family as Christmas looms. Chris Carver (Eddie Murphy), the family’s patriarch, has one holiday goal: defeating his neighbor Bruce (Ken Marino) in the yearly outdoor decorations competition. While Bruce favors inflatable holiday delights, Chris prefers woodwork. Yet Bruce wins each year. So, Chris searches for something more to give him an edge this year. This leads to an elf, a particular tree, and a contract where reading the fine print is essential.
Candy Cane Lane Nails Family Holiday Spirit But Lead Villain is Flat
Besides Chris and his wife, Carol (Tracee Ellis Ross), their trio of kids, particularly Holly (Madison Thomas), add a Christmas spirit vibe. She is easily a favorite. Then there’s son, Nick (Thaddeus J. Mixson), and older daughter, Joy (Genneya Walton), who conceal things from their parents. Their dynamic might be cliched with Chris expecting everyone to follow in his and Carol’s footsteps and win no matter what, but Eddie Murphy still has that magic that keeps audiences coming back.
The elf villain, Pepper (Jillian Bell), is an issue. She is just not funny. Most of her jokes leave viewers with a deadpan expression. Despite the stakes, Pepper’s presence is annoying because of that lack of humor. The only moment she inspired laughs was when she tried to name sports celebrities. Pepper’s feels more akin to a Jackass character or Beevus and Butthead rather than an embittered elf. She is as hit and miss as the anchors on television relaying the contest moments.
Ornament People Save the Day
The people who turned into little holiday decorations deliver tons of laughs and songs. Lamplighter Gary (Chris Redd) and Cordelia (Robin Thede) especially nail the comedic timing. From Gary’s rant about the tribulations of lighting and blowing out a lamp to Cordelia’s Fast and Furious-style driving, the crew is hilarious. Meanwhile, Pip (Nick Offerman) adds that British touch. His friendship with Holly is holiday heartwarming. Rounding out the group are the talented singers, Pentatonix caroling. . . a lot. Carol might have an issue, but audiences will likely chime in with the songs.
Fantastical Yet Fascinating 12 Days of Christmas Drama
Seeing the 12 Days of Christmas characters come alive is ingenious. Candy Cane Lane swings for Santa’s sleigh heights, and though it doesn’t all soar, there is more here to love than not, thanks to much of the cast. As viewers watch, they might try to recall which day’s characters wreak havoc on screen. Candy Cane Lane does not light up the sky as brightly as all the home decorations, but there’s a sweet spot here, thanks to most of the cast. It flies more than it falters and is fun for the family to enjoy with some cocoa.