Candy Cane Lane movie review & film summary (2023)

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Although it takes its time to embrace its magical premise, mostly in favor of building out the elaborate subplots for each of the Carver family members, once it gets into full on gonzo mode it’s the most delightfully deranged family film since “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.” There’s seven swans swimming in the Carver’s pool, six geese laying eggs from the air, yolk-bombing residents, three french hens dressed like Parisian stereotypes, Oh yes, there are dozens of pipers piping and drummers drumming, and even some birds making crank calls. 

An incredibly bizarre sequence where Nick faces off with a milkmaid that could have been a real highlight is unfortunately cut up into a montage with Joy and Chris at a track meet going head to head with a group of lords a-leaping. For a movie that runs incredibly long in the tooth, Hudlin often lets the least interesting scenes run the longest – a running subplot with two cable news anchors (Timothy Simons, Danielle Pinnock) never manages to gel – while short-changing the ones with the most originality. 

Murphy, who also produced the film, is a delight throughout, bringing a soulful melancholy to his early scenes, lovely chemistry with Ross, and his signature impish charm during the film’s more preposterous sequences. While it may not rank up with his greatest acting triumphs (I’m looking at you “Dolemite Is My Name”), it’s the type of solid, effortlessly enjoyable performance that you hope from a movie star of his caliber in a film of this ilk. 

Regardless of its shortcomings, “Candy Cane Lane” is a frenzied family friendly film as overstuffed as a Christmas stocking, as nutty as a chestnut, and, ultimately, as warm as an open fire. 

On Prime Video now.


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