Review: Candy Cane Lane – An Eddie Murphy Christmas Tale

Eddie Murphy, renowned for his comedic roles in classics like “Coming to America” (1988) and Beverly Hills Cop (1984), has also showcased his depth in films like Dolemite is My Name (2019) and Dream Girls (2006), earning an Oscar nomination for the latter. In Candy Cane Lane (2023), Murphy presents a fresh avatar – a PG-13 Christmas character – in this family-friendly holiday film directed by Reginald Hudlin.

Reuniting with Hudlin after their 1992 hit Boomerang, a film ahead of its time in celebrating Black entrepreneurship and beauty, Candy Cane Lane offers a more accessible introduction to Murphy’s talent, perfect for family gatherings. The heartwarming script, penned by Kelly Younger, is inspired by his own childhood memories.

In Candy Cane Lane Murphy transforms into Chris Carter, a middle-aged, middle-class American father. Far from his typical larger-than-life roles, Carter shines during Christmas with his passion for elaborate holiday decorations, bringing out his artistic side in a friendly neighbourhood competition. This subdued character is a stark contrast to the flamboyant personality Murphy is known for.

Tracee Ellis Ross, playing Murphy’s wife Carol, complements him with her proven comedic chops from Black-ish (2014-2022). As the more grounded half of the couple, Ross gets ample opportunity to develop her character. The young cast members, Thaddeus J. Mixson, Genneya Walton, and Madison Thomas, show promise, suggesting bright futures ahead. David Alan Grier, a regular collaborator with Hudlin, delivers a memorable performance in the film.

Jillian Bell, as Pepper, provides a perfect comedic counterbalance to Murphy and Thomas. The supporting cast, including Nick Offerman, Chris Redd, and Robin Thede, add to the film’s charm, reminiscent of family classics like The Indian in the Cupboard (1995) and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989), thanks to the impressive special effects team.

Candy Cane Lane stands out in the crowded field of holiday movies. Hudlin and Murphy’s collaboration brings a unique personality to the film, engaging the audience with the Carver family’s story. Murphy’s charisma shines, proving humour doesn’t always need words; it can be just as effective through physical comedy and expressive acting.

Trevante Rhodes, known for Moonlight (2016), impresses with a brief yet impactful role as a charismatic antagonist, adding depth to Murphy’s character. The film’s racial humour is tastefully executed, avoiding any heavy-handedness or direct commentary on current events.

Candy Cane Lane achieves its goal of being both entertaining and a perfect holiday film for families to enjoy together, thanks to the dynamic Hudlin-Murphy duo.

Candy Cane Lane // Official Trailer

Also Read: Best Christmas Movies of the Past Decade

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Gabriel Leão

Gabriel Leão (He/Him) works as a journalist and is based in São Paulo, Brazil. He has written for outlets in Brazil, the UK, Canada and the USA such as Vice, Ozy Media, Remezcla, Al Jazeera, Women’s Media Center, Clash Music, Dicebreaker, Yahoo! Brasil, Scarleteen, Anime Herald, Anime Feminist and Brazil’s ESPN Magazine. He also holds a Master’s degree in Communications and a post-grad degree in Foreign Relations.