Think of your favourite Christmas movie. It’s probably wholesome. There’s probably lots of snow. There might even be a song or two. These movies fill us with warmth because not only do they prompt us to reminisce on simpler (see: younger) times, but the messaging is always positive. The best holiday movies are timeless for those very reasons. But, the older we get, the harder it is to find new Christmas-themed movies that might be considered future classics. Maybe we’re too cynical, maybe they’re too predictable. But, “Candy Cane Lane”, streaming now on Prime Video, is an absolute exception to the rule. In fact, it might sit up there as one of the greats.
Following a surprisingly heated battle for the best Christmas-decorated home in the neighbourhood, “Candy Cane Lane” at once feels nostalgic and fresh. Its performances, themes, and interplay between tradition and ambition make for perfect holiday viewing. Here are five reasons why you should stream “Candy Cane Lane”, only on Prime Video, this Christmas.
“Candy Cane Lane” Feels Familiar
The very first shot of “Candy Cane Lane” shows people boarding down sand dunes and zooming past sandmen with the sounds of waves crashing in the distance. For Australian audiences, many of whom don’t experience snowfall at all where they live, this automatically feels closer to home. For the record, it’s not — “Candy Cane Lane” is set in a Southern California-esque neighbourhood. But the sun shines the whole way through. It might not be the Australian summer we’re seeing, but it’s much closer to the actual environment many of us will watch the movie. And anything that even feels like home is worth celebrating and recognising in the holiday season.
It Deals With Real Issues
A problem with some holiday movies is that the conflicts within them centre entirely around Christmas-related issues, and wouldn’t work in another context. Maybe presents have been stolen and they need to be retrieved. Maybe someone is literally meeting Santa. But, in “Candy Cane Lane”, very real issues are explored in a Christmas setting. Chris Carver, played by Eddie Murphy, is laid off. Meanwhile, his eldest daughter is resisting the pressure to attend USC, just like her mother and father did, because she wants to attend another school. Having these timeless conflicts helps drive the story not only ground it but also help make it feel completely relatable, which isn’t exactly common for what is considered a magical time of year.
But There’s Still Plenty of Magic
Christmas is a magical time for plenty of us, and “Candy Cane Lane” knows better than to stray too far from what makes a holiday movie special. So, despite the layers of realism in the movie, there’s still plenty of magic. The film’s central conflict is between the Carver family and Pepper, a kind stranger who turns up being a nefarious elf. Pepper promises to help people — in Chris’ case, to make his house the most magical for the competition — but only ends up trapping them, turning them into plastic dolls. The magic here isn’t overbearing and doesn’t take away from any of the other major plot points, but instead feels like an homage to the great Christmas movies we all watched growing up.
The Seamless Animation
Speaking of plastic dolls, we end up meeting a few who have fallen under Pepper’s curse throughout the movie, and they are integral characters in the story. We first meet them in Pepper’s store, in a miniature Christmas setting that feels much more traditional — snow-covered streets and old-school lampposts to boot. The way these dolls move almost looks like stop-motion but is done so seamlessly that they look to be a natural part of this world. Not only that but when our non-doll characters are talking with them, it doesn’t seem like they’re just speaking into the void. The actors (both IRL and voice) do a great job of emoting convincingly and make those little dolls seem larger than life.
And, Of Course, The Cast
No conversation about what makes “Candy Cane Lane” great would be complete without mentioning the cast. Eddie Murphy takes the lead and brings back the sensibilities of what has made plenty of his more family-friendly roles great. His smile can go from ear to ear in one moment before pursing and becoming comically frustrated and flustered the next. Most importantly, each line is delivered with fire, whether it be funny or tender, reminding us why he’s one of the comic greats.
But he’s not alone. Standing right by his side is the hilarious Tracee Ellis Ross, whose eyes can say so much she doesn’t even have to speak. But be thankful she does, because her delivery, especially when she’s exasperated or slightly annoyed, is comic gold. The cast also includes the devilishly funny Jillian Bell, and Nick Offerman like you’ve never seen him before (trust us).
So, this Christmas, add “Candy Cane Lane” to your holiday viewing agenda. It just might be your next favourite holiday movie. Sign up to Prime Video now to watch it, and enjoy a 30-day-free-trial, as an extra special gift for yourself.