We Found It On Streaming: CANDY CANE LANE (2023)

Image Via Amazon/MGM

You know the film. It’s a film you have never heard of. The cast might be composed of actors you know and love or complete unknowns. You stumble across it on streaming and wonder if it will be worth two hours of your time. This series will be devoted to reviewing films like these, the strange items that pop up when you are looking for a flick on the streaming service of your choice. This is “We Found It On Streaming

Image via Amazon/MGM

FILM: Candy Cane Lane

Release Date: December 1, 2023

Run Time: 120 Minutes.

Streaming Service(s): Amazon Prime

Rating: PG for language throughout and some suggestive references.

I saw this film come up in my Amazon Prime queue and my knee-jerk reaction was “Lo, how far Eddie Murphy has fallen.” But then I realized that was only a matter of perception. I am old enough to remember his early career–his time on Saturday Night Live, his stand-up concert films Dangerous and Raw, his early films like 48 Hours and Beverly Hills Cop. The Eddie Murphy from that era would have probably slapped me in the face if I told him he’d one day be making a corny, schmaltzy, family-friendly Christmas film. However, people younger than I, those whose main exposure to Murphy was Norbit or The Adventures of Pluto Nash might think that Candy Cane Lane is a step up.

Murphy plays Chris Carver, a man who loves decorating for Christmas. He enjoys carving every wooden angel and elf he places on his front lawn and every meticulously painted wooden candy cane that lines his walkway. But much to his chagrin, he keeps losing the neighborhood decorating contest to his neighbor across the street, Bruce (Ken Marino), who decorates his lawn with less-labor intensive inflatable decorations.

Image via Amazon/MGM

Chris gets more motivation this year, as the house decorations on his street will all be judged, and the winning house will be getting $100,000. Having just been laid off, Chris could really use that prize money. Instead of trying to find a new job, he goes all in on trying to beat Bruce for the first time.

However, the contest is announced three days before Christmas Eve, and all the stores are out of Christmas decorations. All stores except one–Kringle’s. The store is fully stocked with all kinds of fancy doodads, including a giant, 20-foot, mechanical tree that illustrates the 12 Days of Christmas on its 12 animated levels. The tree will win the contest for Chris for sure, but, unbeknownst to him, it comes at a very high price. It comes with a curse. A curse that will turn Chris into a porcelain figurine by 8pm on Christmas Eve.

Candy Cane Lane is weird film, one that is a study in contrasts. It is a comedy with the story beats of a horror film. It is an unconventional story that covers a lot of the tropes of a holiday film. It also not very good, yet not totally awful.

I know that is a frustrating description, but I couldn’t think of a better way to describe it. There is a lot to like about the film. But there is a lot, and I do mean a lot, that you have seen before. It truly is a film in which what enjoyment you get out of it is what you bring to it. I can see people hating this film. But for me, it is mostly a middling feeling I have for it–neither love nor hate.

Image via Amazon/MGM

The cast is stacked. When you have actors like Timothy Simons and Riki Lindhome in small roles, you have a great cast. I was especially impressed with Tracee Ellis Ross. I know that she is a veteran actress, but I haven’t really seen anything that she had been in before. She is a skilled comedienne, adept in ad-libs and physical comedy. She is responsible for some of the best moments in the film.

The one weak link in the acting would be, sad to say, Eddie Murphy. His performance is very uneven. The first few scenes feature him all but sleepwalking through his performance (it’s not helped by the sound mixing, which make him sound like he is talking into a fishbowl compared to the other actors). Once the plot mechanics kick in, the typical Murphy charm we have come to known kicks in a little bit. But often he seems tired and bored. Yes, he is a man in his sixties, and it might be unfair to expect the same manic energy that he showed in his earlier performances, but a little more spark would be welcome here, considering the wacky plot elements at play.

Image via Amazon/MGM

The script by Kelly Younger is inventive in places, predictable in others. Using the “neighbors fighting over Christmas decorations” that has become a Christmas film trope as a springboard, the plot goes in unique and surprising directions. But if you have ever seen a Christmas movie where a character needs to learn the true meaning of Christmas, you’ll know where the overall emotional through line will end up.

That being said, there are funny gags, and it is written well enough that I was emotionally invested in the movie. Even so, I can admit that it could have been done better. Perhaps if they leant more towards its inventive side to find a less formulaic way to get its message across.

Murphy is reunited with his Boomerang director Reginald Hudlin here. Hudlin does a good job here. He keeps the pace up and keeps the film moving. You won’t confuse him with a Scorsese or a Spielberg, but he does what the movie needs him to do.

Candy Cane Lane is not a new Christmas classic. I doubt that it will be anyone’s appointment viewing every Christmas. But it might be a fun film to have running in the background while you wrap presents or if you have already made your way through your favorites.

Have you found a film on streaming that you’d like us to look at? Leave it in the comments and it might appear in a future installment of this feature.

Avatar für William Gatevackes
About William Gatevackes 2021 Articles
William is cursed with the shared love of comic books and of films. Luckily, this is a great time for him to be alive. His writing has been featured on Broken Frontier.com, PopMatters.com and in Comics Foundry magazine.
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