Candy Cane Lane (2023)

Candy Cane Lane (2023)

Entertaining family fun that just falls short of being a potential holiday staple



United States of America
Comedy, Family, Fantasy
Aidan Kennedy, Ali Astin, Amy Johnston
117 min


Geared specifically towards the '90s kids who loved rewatching Jumanji and Small Soldiers on VCD.

What it's about

After being laid off from his job, a family man seeks assistance from a magical Christmas shop to help him win a Christmas decoration competition—only to accidentally place a curse on himself.

The take

Proof that even the most tired tropes (which the holiday genre is arguably entirely made up of at this point) can still be warm and enjoyable with above-average craft and a fun cast, Candy Cane Lane avoids the monotony that tends to plague other Christmas movies. Which isn't to say that the film is a new classic—it still concludes too easily and doesn't give its more emotional side the space to breathe. But with an entertaining fantasy premise (specifically, a sort of scavenger hunt based on The Twelve Days of Christmas) bolstered by strong visual effects and supporting actors who have been given free rein to improvise, the movie stays dynamic and lightly humorous, if a little lacking in substance.

What stands out

It's unfortunate that Eddie Murphy seems to have been directed to play this lead role incredibly straight, because he misses out on all the fun that everyone else around him is having. There are great bit parts and one-liners flying left and right here, from the likes of Nick Offerman, Chris Redd, David Alan Grier, Ken Marino, Timothy Simons, and Danielle Pinnock—all of whom never try to milk a moment for longer than necessary. But as Murphy's character's wife, Tracee Ellis Ross proves that she has her sitcom instincts down to a science, always funny but constantly anchoring herself to a clear emotional center.


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