As the holiday season draws near, spirits are full of cheer when the cast and creatives behind Candy Cane Lane, Prime Video’s latest Christmas movie, gathered on a festive-themed stage in sunny Los Angeles, CA. The whacky new family comedy has significant comedic star power, including Tracee Ellis Ross (Black-ish) and the legendary Eddie Murphy, in his first Christmas flick. Both actors were in attendance, along with Jillian Bell, Chris Redd, Robin Thede, Thaddeus J. Mixon, Genneya Walton, and Madison Thomas.
One might argue that Murphy has already starred in Christmas movies, such as Coming To America and Trading Places, but Ellis Ross wants to tell those people that “Christmas Season movies are different than a Christmas movie.” A Christmas Season film has only “the suggestion of holiday,” but a full-fledged Christmas movie needs to be drowning in Yuletide. Lucky for fans of the holiday genre, Candy Cane Lane’s cast assures you it has plenty of the latter.
Directed by Reginald Hudlin (House Party, Marshall), Candy Cane Lane takes inspiration from an actual street of the same name in El Segundo, California, where homeowners are known to go all out with holiday decorations. The movie follows Chris Carver (Murphy), a family man and Christmas enthusiast, who inadvertently signs a deal with a villainous elf named Pepper (Bell) to win his neighbourhood’s annual Christmas home decoration contest.
Things turn chaotic when Pepper casts a magic spell that brings to life the 12 Days of Christmas, wreaking havoc on their town. Chris enlists the help of his wife, Carol (Ellis Ross), and their three children (Mixon, Walton, and Thomas) to save Christmas for every resident of Candy Cane Lane. Kelly Younger, the film’s writer, took much of the story’s world from childhood as he grew up next to the famously decorated street.
“With this magical movie, between all the magical creatures and special effects, it is a personal, true story. My parents live on the street that leads into Candy Cane Lane in El Segundo. They’ve lived there for many years, and my dad overdecorates every Christmas. He goes over the top, much to my mother’s dismay.” Younger points out that while an evil elf didn’t haunt him as a child, he “wanted to bring in magic and mischief that is still grounded in a real family. Eddie and Tracee capture a real relationship in a real family. That’s where it all started.”
Another personal behind-the-scenes connection is between director Reginald Hudlin and Murphy, who are reuniting for the first time since 1992’s Boomerang. The two shared a bit about how their partnership has changed over time. For Murphy, “the dynamic [between Reginald and I] hasn’t changed much [since Boomerang]. It’s just gotten slower.”
The two had been brainstorming ideas for another potential collaboration for years, and Hudlin just happened to meet with Amazon about doing a Christmas movie. At the same time, Murphy was looking for one to star in. “[Hudlin] put together this great presentation- like the best I’ve ever seen anybody put together, ” the star shared. “It was about how he’d do the movie and the world. It was a no-brainer. [Hudlin] saw the whole thing from the beginning.”
When asked what about Candy Cane Lane and the character of Chris Carve made him realize that this was the Christmas project he’d been looking for, Murphy explained that “the script was definitely unique and had all of the elements you need to have in a Christmas movie so you can watch it over and over again… I thought this could be one of those kinds of movies that families could revisit.”
Ellis Ross was equally enthusiastic: “The special thing about this movie is that it’s an adventure, comedy Christmas movie. So, it’s fun. There is adventure, hijinks, action, children, and an abundance of lights and decorations. It’s also a special story with all the elements you need in a Christmas movie, and we hope it becomes a holiday classic.”
Candy Cane Lane is now streaming on Prime Video.