Candy Cane Lane
Posted on November 30, 2023 at 5:32 pmB
|Lowest Recommended Age:
|4th - 6th Grade
|Rated PG for language throughout and some suggestive references
|Some schoolyard language
|Date Released to Theaters:
|December 1, 2023
Chris (Eddie Murphy) loves Christmas so much his children are named Nick (Thaddeus J. Mixson), Joy (Genneya Walton), and Holly (Madison Thomas). Possibly, it’s not a coincidence that his wife is named Carol (Tracee Ellis Ross). The family lives in the Southern California town of El Segundo, on a street called Candy Cane Lane that is famous for the elaborate Christmas (and, at one house, Hanukkah) decorations.
As the movie begins, Chris has an extra reason to try to win the competition for best decorations. His across-the-street neighbor Bruce (Ken Marino) has won the past four years. But this year, Chris has just been laid off and for the first time the local television channel that covers Candy Cane Lane is offering a $100,000 prize for the winner.
He discovers a pop-up Christmas store called Kringle’s, run by Pepper (Jillian Bell). He sees a gigantic tree-shaped, “!2 Days of Christmas”-themed decoration and buys it, so enthusiastic and in such a hurry to get it home that does not check to see how much it costs, not just in money, but in more. He signs without reading the fine print. It turns out Pepper was once an elf at the North Pole. She was thrown out for putting too many people on the Naughty list. Now she sets impossible tasks and when people cannot complete them she turns them into little ceramic Dickensian Christmas figurines, charmingly CGI-animated and endearingly voiced by Nick Offerman, Robin Thede, and Chris Redd, with the fabulous a cappella group Pentatonix as a carol-singing choir.
The “12 Days of Christmas” ornaments start to come to life, creating chaos at Carol’s job, just as she is up for a promotion and at Joy’s track meet, just as a scout from her dream college is in the stands (the lords a leaping are very impressive). The impossible task for Chris is to get the golden rings from each of the ornaments before midnight, or he will be trapped forever as one of the ceramic figures.
Murphy gives a lower-key, nearly anti-less performance than we’ve seen from him in the past, letting the concept and the special effects take the lead, with him grounding the fantasy by focusing on Chris as a devoted father. The strength of the family keeps the story from getting lost in the silliness. Some elements of the film are less successful, especially the cut-aways to the local television show, with one of the hosts increasingly irritated with the other. But it all comes together at the end, with David Alan Grier as Santa and a satisfying resolution for Chris and his family.
Parents should know that this film has extended fantasy peril and some schoolyard language.
Family discussion: What made Chris and Carol change their minds about Joy’s school choice? What’s your favorite Christmas decoration?
If you like this, try: “Family Switch”