Candy Cane Lane
"Candy Cane Lane" isn't totally lame - it's sadly just more of the same.
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I’ve always been an Eddie Murphy fan, but his family-friendly fare has often held little to no interest to me. I’ve always been more of a “Eddie Murphy: Delirious” or “Eddie Murphy Raw” sorta cat (even though I can fully admit they’re problematic) and have fond memories of watching “Beverly Hills Cop” with my late grandfather at way too young of an age (he lost his fool mind laughing when Axel Foley stuck bananas in the tailpipe of Rosewood and Taggart’s car).
Murphy’s latest, the Christmas-centric “Candy Cane Lane” (now streaming on Amazon Prime Video), reunites him with his “Boomerang” director Reginald Hudlin some 30 years after their last collaboration and it’s far more kid-friendly than that sex comedy.
Murphy (likable yet somewhat subdued) stars as Chris Carver, a mild-mannered family man who lives with his clan comprised of wife Carol (Tracee Ellis Ross), daughters Joy (Genneya Walton) and Holly (Madison Thomas) and son Nick (Thaddeus J. Mixson) on the titular Candy Cane Lane in El Segundo, Calif.
After losing his job Chris is focused on defeating his across the street neighbor, friend and reigning champ Bruce (Ken Marino – this “The State” member is value added to almost anything he touches) in their street’s Christmas decoration contest. Desperate, Chris takes Holly to a store called Kringle’s that’s tidily tucked beneath an overpass. There they meet Pepper (Jillian Bell), an eccentric character who sells Chris a “The Twelve Days of Christmas”-themed animatronic tree and other assorted holiday accoutrements including miniature, talking, glass figurines Pip (Nick Offerman affecting a Cockney accent), Lamplighter Gary (“Saturday Night Live” veteran Chris Redd) and Cordelia (Robin Thede).
Chris probably should’ve examined his CVS on steroids-sized receipt before signing it as the figures on the tree come to life and it’ll be up to the Carvers to stop them by collecting golden rings lest Chris get transformed into a figurine along the lines of Pip, Lamplighter Gary and Cordelia.
“Candy Cane Lane” has some genuinely funny moments (most of them provided by the scene-stealing Redd), but there aren’t nearly enough of them. The script by Kelly Younger (he was a writer and producer on the recent TV redux “Muppets Now”) plays like a mishmash of “Jumanji” and “Deck the Halls.” It has horror elements that if they’d been leaned into more heavily would’ve benefited the movie greatly. (A moment involving a maid a-milking is nightmare fuel. Give me more of this!) The funniest jokes are also the flick’s edgiest ones … I needed more of these. I have no doubt “Candy Cane Lane” would’ve played better in a PG-13 iteration as opposed to its current PG one.
Its messaging beats you over the head (Chris repeatedly drives past a mural of Teddy Roosevelt with the quote, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”) and it’s entirely too long (there’s absolutely no reason for this to be two hours), but “Candy Cane Lane” ultimately isn’t totally lame … it’s sadly just more of the same.