Eddie Murphy, Jillian Bell and Madison Thomas (L-R) star in “Candy Cane Lane,” now streaming on Prime Video (Photo Credit: Claudette Barius/Amazon Content Services LLC).
(“Candy Cane Lane” trailer courtesy of Prime Video)
Comedic genius Eddie Murphy has long walked the thin line of adult comedy and children’s comedy.
For every vulgar “Coming to America” and “Harlem Nights,” the New York native has also given fans “Doctor Doolittle” and “Daddy Daycare.”
Younger obscenity-loving entertainers like Ice Cube have followed in Murphy’s footsteps, releasing films like “Friday” and “Are We There Yet?”
However, Murphy’s comedic genius has leaned a little into corniness recently.
Unfortunately, while “Candy Cane Lane” is fun and cute, much of the comedy and storyline ventures into corny lane instead of the comedic genius lane.
“Candy Cane Lane” presents the sad reality that the most wonderful time of the year can also become the saddest time of the year depending on what season of life a person is in.
When things are going well and the money is flowing, very few people dread the holiday season.
But how should one feel when they hit a rough patch in life and their smooth sailing becomes bumpy and turbulent?
In “Candy Cane Lane,” Chris Carver (Murphy) has hit a rough patch in life.
To make matters worse, Chris’ rough patch happens simultaneously with his wife Carol Carver’s winning season.
However, Chris tries his best to hide his stress from his family so that they can enjoy what he sees as the Carver’s last official Christmas together.
Do not fret, children.
No one is dying or gravely ill.
That would be too much for the youngins to deal with.
But in “Candy Cane Lane,” the eldest Carver child Joy (Genneya Walton) will head off to college soon, with middle child Nick (Thaddeus J. Mixon) not too far behind, if he can actually pass his math class.
Unfortunately, things do not look too promising for Nick and math.
What is adding to Chris’ stress is the fact that their track star daughter Joy has no interest in following in her parents’ footsteps by attending USC.
She has her eyes set on Notre Dame, which is one of USC’s biggest rivals.
Despite the tumultuousness of the current Christmas season, Chris’ spirits pick up when the neighborhood’s annual Christmas decoration contest comes with a $100,000 award this year.
That award could alleviate much of Chris’ stress.
And it might make the season seem a little more like Christmas for a family obsessed with Dec. 25.
After all, check out the names of the family members.
Chris (Kris Kringle).
Carole (Christmas carol).
Nick (Saint Nick).
Joy (“Joy to the World,” hopefully the Whitney Houston version from “The Preacher’s Wife”).
And Holly (have a holly, jolly Christmas).
Because of the prize money that Chris so desperately needs, he decides to add much more to his already elaborate holiday decorations.
He must add something to his presentation if he wants to stop his neighbor Bruce (Ken Marino) from winning again.
Luckily or unlikely, Chris and Holly (Madison Thomas) stumble upon a Christmas pop-up shop owned by an eccentric lady named Pepper (Jillian Bell) that sells decorations that would put all other decorations to shame.
Therefore, Chris makes a steep purchase of decorations that will definitely put his home over the top and guarantee him that 100 grand.
However, the purchase comes with an agreement, which is clearly stated in the fine print of the receipt.
But who reads the fine print?
Obviously not Chris because as soon as he puts up his elaborate decorations, all kind of foolishness ensues.
Although the foolishness might present a nuisance to Chris and his family, when Chris realizes that Pepper’s products have a nefarious side to it that might put his family in peril, he must go out of his way to fix the problem that his decisions have put his loved-ones in.
While Murphy is undoubtedly the star of “Candy Cane Lane” and Ross is the biggest co-star, Thomas and Bell stand out the most for much of the movie.
Thomas is just adorable, especially because she still innocently and purely believes in Santa Claus (David Alan Grier).
Holly’s instant connection with the smaller stars of “Candy Cane Lane” might even help her father get out of the conundrum he has put his family in.
On the other hand, Bell’s performance as Pepper is equally weird and demented.
She might be the strangest movie antagonist in a very long time.
Filmmaker Reginald Hudlin (“Boomerang”) reuniting Murphy and Grier in a movie is a good thing to see too.
In this movie, however, Grier has the “playa” role and not the corny one that he had in “Boomerang.”
Furthermore, “Candy Cane Lane” will bless moviegoers because it features Murphy with young comedy star, D.C. Young Fly.
In fact, D.C. Young Fly should have portrayed Prince Akeem’s bastard son in “Coming 2 America.”
Having D.C. Young Fly play the role of Lavelle Junson instead of Jermaine Fowler would have made the sequel to ‘Coming to America” that much funnier, no disrespect to the talented Fowler.
But the biggest fault of “Candy Cane Lane” is that it is just not that funny, which is something very few can say about a movie starring Murphy.
However, what does an old critic know about a children’s movie?
Murphy’s brilliance is knowing his audience and the targeted audience for “Candy Cane Lane” is the demographic that gets the most excited about waking up on Christmas day.
And hopefully watching “Candy Cane Lane,” which is now streaming on Prime Video, will get them in the mood approximately a month in advance.