THE MOVIE "Candy Cane Lane"
WHERE Streaming on Prime
WHAT IT'S ABOUT Eddie Murphy stars in the mind-numbing family holiday comedy "Candy Cane Lane," a movie that ought to have been sent back to the North Pole, or something.
The Roosevelt-raised icon plays Chris Carver, devoted husband to Carol (Tracee Ellis Ross) and father of three, whose competitive side comes out every Christmas when he hand carves elaborate decorations for the family's El Segundo, California home, and then competes with his neighbors in an annual contest.
Alas, the Carvers lose annually to Bruce (West Islip's Ken Marino), your classic irritating neighbor across the street with his propensity for conventional blowup decor.
The whole to-do becomes extra important, however, with the introduction of a $100,000 prize for the best house on the block.
Chris and his youngest daughter, on a search for supplies, happen upon a mysteriously elaborate Christmas shop, nestled under a bridge, packed with every seasonal touch imaginable.
Turns out it's run by the suspiciously chipper Pepper (Jillian Bell) and packed with living mini-porcelain figures, voiced by the likes of Nick Offerman, who seem to have been trapped in some kind of weird Dickensian hell.
None of this fazes Chris, who signs a receipt without reading the fine print, and finds he has consigned himself to the same fate unless he and the family can recover the five golden rings famously referenced in the "Twelve Days of Christmas." Oh, and Pepper is actually an evil elf.
MY SAY Did you get all that? Does it matter? The answer to both questions, of course, is no.
"Candy Cane Lane" has no interest in logic or purpose or thoughtfulness or meaning. It has nothing to say about the season and its commercialism, or the misplaced values involved in focusing so intensely on outdoing the neighbors.
Don't expect the plot to make sense or for performances from the stars that do anything but go through the motions. There are two funny moments here, courtesy of Murphy, and they're both in the outtakes.
The only tangible goal is to cram as much iconography as possible into an interminable two hours.
Even the world's biggest Christmas season fans will grow weary of hearing the "Twelve Days of Christmas" over and over, endlessly repeated and dissected. You won't get it out of your head for days.
Those who spend all year waiting for December still risk being sick of the strings of lights, the cozy sweaters, snowmen, candy canes and the like. They're practically in every frame. There's cheery, there's warm and then there's oppressive overkill.
Take our advice. Turn off the TV and go admire some of the many real-life Long Island homes that do a far better and more impressive job of showcasing their seasonal spirit than anything in this imitation.
"Candy Cane Lane" does stand out in one area, offering more product placement than any movie in recent memory. You need at least two hands and probably more to count the corporate shout-outs. There's a shopping montage in which the characters visit a Walmart, a Costco and a Target, that looks and feels no different from a commercial. It's all very sad.
BOTTOM LINE We love Christmas movies as much as the next person but this one is just not it.