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  • Writer's pictureMatt Conway

Candy Cane Lane: Review

After losing his job, family man Chris Carver is determined to win his neighborhood’s annual Christmas decorating contest. He makes a pact with a self-proclaimed elf to help him triumph. The elf casts a spell that brings the 12 Days of Christmas traditions to life, ensnaring Chris in a chaotic quest to save his family and the holiday season in “Candy Cane Lane.”

Fans of comedic superstar/vulgar wordsmith Eddie Murphy can cite numerous indelible projects from his resume. For late-’90s children like myself, many ironically know Murphy best for his track record leading family films. Silly yet sincere comedies like “Doctor Doolittle,” “Daddy Day Care” and “Shrek” were not just cash grabs for Murphy; they provided the comedian with an expressive canvas for showcasing the affable side of his larger-than-life personality.

Following an extended absence, Murphy returns to the family film realm in Amazon Prime’s big-budget holiday comedy “Candy Cane Lane.” The film is undoubtedly a relic of the mid-2000s, which ran rampant with exuberant and eager-to-please family films. “Candy Cane Lane’s” adherence to familiar family feature traditions acts as a gift and a curse for this fantastical comedy. For what it is, though, this cheerful crowdpleaser draws enough holiday merriment to forgive its shortcomings.

Most family films exude buoyant, bouncing-off-the-wall energy as the driving force behind their brisk running time. “Candy Cane Lane” embraces a similar approach to its benefit. Director Reginald Hudlin keeps the film steering ahead like a roaring locomotive train, throwing a never-ending holiday blend of lavish special effects and sitcom-esque pratfalls to amuse viewers. Admittedly, this frenetic delivery style features its share of inconsistencies, yet Hudlin and screenwriter Kelly Younger always find a way to guide the film toward genuine truths. The film eventually culminates with a heaping of feel-good Christmas sentiments that resonate with Yueltide earnestness.

The star on top of “Candy Cane Lane’s” Christmas tree is its affable cast. Eddie Murphy still possesses a blazing comedic fastball, always finding ways to enhance the material through his vibrant personality. Murphy is consistently compelling as everyman Chris Carver, a man trying to save the Christmas season for his family despite his short-sighted focus on materialism. Tracee Ellis Ross makes for an endearing onscreen partner as Chris’s no-nonsense wife, and a slew of comedic character actors (Nick Offerman, Chris Redd and Jillian Bell) effectively imprint their distinct talents onto the material.

While no one will call it a new holiday classic, “Candy Cane Lane” infuses enough charm and cheer into the well-worn Christmas movie lineage.


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