Well the Christmas season is well under way now and the flux of seasonal movies this year has a new addition with Eddie Murphy’s first foray into Yuletide cheer with the release of Candy Cane Lane.
Murphy plays Chris Carver a suitably appropriate name as he also hand carves the traditional Christmas decorations outside his house in Candy Cane Lane, a street where every house decks their exterior with so much garish decoration that it makes rappers look demure. But in keeping with the tropes of Christmas movies sadness is just around the corner when he is laid off by his company days before Christmas and with no income his first worry would seem to be ‘How am I going to pay my Christmas lights electricity bill?’
Hope is at hand though when Prism TV, a cable channel that decides to provide TV coverage for the annual house decoration festivities in the street for reason best known only to themselves, and for the first time they are offering a $100,000 prize for the best house. Chris’ neighbour has won the competition for several consecutive years but with Chris jobless he’s determined that this year he must win if not for the prize then at least to have one over on his neighbour.
But as this starts off as what appears to be a warring neighbour comedy takes the first in several convoluted turns when Chris finds a pop up Christmas decoration shop run by cursed elf, Pepper (Jillian Bell on scene stealing form) who brings the 12 days of Christmas to life on his front lawn and all he has to do is sign on the dotted line and he will win the big money prize. What he soon finds out is that what he has signed is a contract that requires him to find the golden rings of the song before midnight on Christmas Eve or he will forever be turned into a miniature ornamental doll and join so many others that Pepper has similarly cursed.
There’s little doubt that at his peak Eddie Murphy was an absolute comedy powerhouse with films like 48hrs, Beverley Hills Cop, Coming to America and Trading Places (itself a Christmas movie!). But Murphy’s films since the 1990’s have been variable and one of his first major flops was 1992’s ‘Boomerang’ directed by Reginald Hudlin and the star and director reunite for the first time in thirty years and in all honestly they need not have bothered. Murphy’s performance here is subdued missing the energy of his best work and is easily outshone by Jillian Bell. But perhaps more significantly by Timothy Simons and Danielle Pinnock as the cable channel presenters who are hilarious with their passive aggressive comments on air. It is these brief scenes which give the film its only real laugh out loud moments.
Candy Cane Lane is firmly in the family friendly fare that Murphy took to with Dr Dolittle and The Nutty Professor, and this has its moments, – the TV presenters, the animated porcelain figurines and Jillian Bell – but its overlong, low on laughs with a too convoluted narrative for younger children to make this a family Christmas favourite
Here’s the Candy Cane Lane trailer…..