It’s Christmas time, which means a critical thing for family man Chris (Eddie Murphy): the opportunity to enter one of the most exciting contests of the year. Chris will again compete with his fellow neighbours, all of whom will decorate their homes to the best of their ability. When he is fired from his job, he sees it as the perfect opportunity to give his full attention to decorating the home, becoming more passionate when he learns that there is a hefty financial prize this year. Desperate to win no matter the costs, Chris is on the hunt for the best Christmas decorations store, and luckily, he soon discovers one. Running the store is Pepper (Jillian Bell), who not only sells Chris plenty of impressive new decorations at a high price but also convinces Chris to sign a secretive contract. When Chris returns home, he finds himself in a world of Christmas chaos and learns that Pepper is an elf whom Santa has cast out of the North Pole. Pepper has tricked Chris, and now the twelve days of Christmas have come to life and gone missing. Chris must continue preparing for the contest but is now on the biggest Christmas hunt. If Chris fails to find everyone from the twelve days of Christmas, he’ll become a glass Christmas ornament forever.
Candy Cane Lane is a Christmas comedy directed by Reginald Hudlin, who previously worked with actor Eddie Murphy on the movie Boomerang (1992). Actor Eddie Murphy is no stranger to comedy and family films such as Dr. Dolittle and Daddy Day Care. However, what’s different is the introduced element, which is Christmas. In the opening of this film, there is a great character introduction to Chris, which shows us his obsession with providing the best Christmas decorations for his home. We also see his out-of-reality relationship with his family, including his three young children, and how his obsession with Christmas has disconnected him from them.
Besides Chris’s general introduction and some fun concepts and ideas, Candy Cane Lane has many disappointments. The film seems unsure of itself, particularly regarding comedy. Some jokes seem fitted for young children; others feel more suited for an older audience. The jokes here are either unfunny, annoying, or repetitive. One joke includes Chris continually being interrupted by the Twelve Days of Christmas song whenever he says a phrase from the song. As an actor, Eddie Murphy has always been a hit or miss with me, and sadly, his performance here feels somewhat familiar and offers nothing new. While I usually enjoy the on-screen presence of actress Jillian Bell, I couldn’t help but feel her role was a miscast here. Most of her dialogue and attempted jokes didn’t work for me. Themes about Christmas and family are discussed, but the messages don’t come over as intended. However, what makes me put this film on the naughty list is how much it drags on and feels slow for the almost two-hour runtime. I could have easily walked away from the movie without a care in sight just after crossing the first-hour mark.
Overall, while this film has an excellent character introduction and a strong premise about family, quality time and Christmas, Candy Cane Lane goes straight to my naughty list for failing to be entertaining and lacking genuine comedy. It is unsure who its audience is, with many adult jokes and childish gags combined. The movie was slow and dull, and after the first hour, I couldn’t believe there were still another fifty-seven minutes to go. While it’s great to see actor Eddie Murphy in a Christmas film, his performance here isn’t anything new or memorable, and the themes and messaging feel rushed over. These holidays, I suggest you treat yourself to a glass of milk and some freshly made cookies instead.
Candy Cane Lane (2023) is Available on Prime Video from December 1st.