Eddie Murphy reunites with his Boomerang director, Reginald Hudlin, for the holiday comedy Candy Cane Lane from Amazon Studios. Kelly Younger pens the film's screenplay inspired by his childhood holiday experiences.
Murphy portrays Chris Carver, an executive residing in the Golden State who abruptly loves the holiday seasons. His family includes his wife Carol (Tracee Ellis Ross), son Nick (Thaddeus J. Mixon), and daughters Joy (Genneya Watson) and Holly (Madison Thomas). Since Nick and Joy are older teens, they try their best to fend off Dad's holiday cheer, but younger daughter Holly is all aboard.
Chris and his neighbor Bruce (played by Ken Marino) compete to win their neighborhood's annual contest for the best-decorated home during Christmas. In his desperation to win, Chris makes a deal with a charismatic stranger, Pepper (played by Jillian Bell), for the use of magic to make his home the most festive.
However, he soon discovers that Pepper is an evil elf who has made similar deals, transforming her victims into glass Christmas figurines. Chris must unite his family and break the agreement before he loses everything to prevent Pepper from unleashing misery upon his friends and neighbors.
Christmas movies are a genre that many moviegoers either enjoy or avoid. Candy Cane Lane includes all the typical holiday movie cliches, but Murphy's portrayal of a loving father is particularly impressive. I appreciate the director's relatable approach to the film, without undermining the importance of diversity. There's something about a successful Black family on screen that I find appealing.
Sadly, there weren't too many memorable jokes, but the intent was to make the film as commercial as possible. It's a shame that the director didn't reunite with his brother (they wrote House Party and Boomerang) to pen the script . I would have been happy if Malcolm D. Lee or Preston Whitmore got a chance to give the film's script a polish as they could've given it an extra oomph.
The supporting cast offers solid turns, with the real standouts being Nick Offerman, Chris Redd, and Robin Thede, who provide voices of Pepper's previous victims. The most underwhelming performance in the cast, though, is that of Jillian Bell as our antagonist. I don't mind Bell's style of comedy, but here she is just going through the motions, and it shows. I would have preferred it if she had swapped roles with Robin Thede.
Eddie Murphy has entertained audiences with his humor since he was twenty-one. Sans Defense and Another 48 Hrs, his first ten movies are considered classics, a feat many comedians-turned-actors have not achieved. As I have grown older, I understand why Murphy chose to tone down his language and focus on creating family-friendly content.
While his latest film doesn't see Murphy return to the R-rated material as he did with the recent Dolemite is My Name and You People, there is enough charm for me to recommend for a family movie night.
Final Grade: C+
Candy Cane Lane is available to stream tomorrow on Prime Video.