Eddie Murphy has his first, surprisingly, holiday movie, and between Jillian Bell and Chris Redd, you’ll find yourself laughing with the kids in the room too.
Read our Editorial Guidelines regarding how posts are written and rated and our use of affiliate links.
Chris is really into Christmas. To prove it, his kids are named Joy (To The World), Nick (as in Saint Nick), and Holly (Dash the halls boughs of Holly). Heck, he even married a woman named Carol.
But this Christmas is different. Not only because Chris believes he could win the Candy Cane Lane competition with his hand-crafted lawn ornaments, but he also got laid off. His boss sold the company, the sales team was halved, and Chris was seen as expendable, so he was given the boot.
This makes winning all the more important, especially after there is a reported $100,000 prize. However, with the prize money being announced publicly, Chris has no time to spruce up his lawn with more handmade pieces.
Enter Kringles, a shop under a bridge where the off-putting Pepper works. She helps Chris buy nearly $500 worth of Christmas items and then makes it a point for him to sign the receipt and ignore how it is longer than a CVS receipt.
Within a day, Chris’ life goes haywire, as does his wife and kids. Pepper is a rogue elf who thinks Santa has gone soft and that people she deems naughty shouldn’t just get coal but become part of her collection of figurines.
So, while Carol is working on a much-needed promotion, Joy trying to get into the college of her dreams, and Nick prove his music is worth pursuing, they are dealing with Pepper trying to sabotage their lives to make sure they can’t help their father.
Though Holly might be the key to what can save not only her dad, but those who have already fell victim to Pepper’s tricks.
Please Note: This character guide is not an exhaustive list of every cast member.
A man who spent most of his life in sales for industrial products, Chris has long used Christmas to express himself creatively. Rather than buy blow-up items or pre-fabricated things for his lawn, he would paint candy canes, make Black angels, and really put his heart and soul into his work. For as shown by the name of his kids and wife, he loves Christmas, but for reasons he does not really dove into.
- The actor is also known for their role in “Mr. Church.”
Joy is the Carver family’s oldest, who is a track star that her parents hope will go to her alma matter. But, like her brother Nick, living under the high expectations of her parents so long, Joy wishes to create some distance just to explore who she is and get some relief.
- The actor is also known for their role in “The Beginning & The Middle.”
The only boy of the Carver kids, Nick’s focus is on music, despite how much his parents advocate for strong academics and career prospects. But while Nick is mainly seen playing the tuba for band, he has learned how to mix and play other instruments as well, leading to some stellar beats.
- The actor is also known for their role in “Reasonable Doubt: Season 1.”
Holly, the youngest of the Carver siblings, hasn’t established what she is into or her direction in life yet. What is known though is that she loves her dad, and when he needs help to pursue that $100,000 prize, he knows she is the best person to be his assistant.
Like her husband, Carol works in industrials, but while he works in sales, she works in logistics, and she is working on getting a long-awaited promotion.
- The actor is also known for their role in “The High Note.”
Pepper, full name Peppermint, is one of Santa’s elves who disagrees with how forgiving he is. So, since going rogue, they have decided to issue impossible tests to people, under the guise of them granting a wish, and if they fail her tests, they become mobile glass figurines in Pepper’s Christmas village.
- The actor is also known for their role in “Rough Night.”
Gary is one of Pepper’s victims who, despite his circumstances, is quite frisky.
- The actor is also known for their role in “Kenan: Season 1/ Episode 1.”
Pip is the assumed leader of Pepper’s victims, who is the first to speak to Chris and warn him.
- The actor is also known for their role in “Hearts Beat Loud.”
Cordelia is another one of Pepper’s victims.
- The actor is also known for their role in “A Back Lady Sketch Show.”
Our Rating: Positive (Worth Seeing)
Notable Performances or Moments
Chris Redd is the funniest character in a movie that includes Eddie Murphy, Robin These, David Alan Grier, and Tracee Ellis Ross. Mind you, almost all of his jokes include innuendo that does make this seem like it should be PG-13, but because of how the film taps on that line and sometimes has Penatronix sing just before someone says the F word, like Gary, you won’t be able to stop yourself from laughing.
Does the way Jillian Bell play Pepper make it seem like she is auditioning for Hocus Pocus 3? Yes. However, as a villain, I love what she does.
Whether it is the jump scares or how she moves around like an old Disney witch, there is so much character and personality embedded into Pepper. Then, add in her motive, which is just wanting to create true punishments for those on the naughty list and thinking Santa has gone soft. You get it.
This is just a thought in my head, but think about it: What is the difference between an elf and Oompa Loompa? Both are expected to do massive amounts of work to make someone else look good, and everything about their lives looks like slavery.
So while the film never pushes that idea, it’s understandable that Pepper could be an elf that cracked because they are doing all this work for selfish people, and while Santa gives people so many chances and still gets them material items or grants wishes, what about the elves? What about Pepper?
Chris’ Family Had A Life Outside Him
While you’d think this entire movie would be about Eddie Murphy’s character, it isn’t. This is an ensemble film where Carol’s focus is, especially with her husband losing his job, getting a promotion at the warehouse she works in. Joy? She is a track star trying to go to a college where she can explore her independence, despite how much her parents want to have her go somewhere close.
Then with Nick, being that Chris has high expectations, he is trying to show his talent with music, including the tuba, so that in the areas he is weak, like math, he can compensate with musical skills to make his dad proud. Lastly, with Holly, Chris’ right hand through most of what Pepper puts him through, you can see someone who just wants to be her dad’s rock.
That isn’t to hint that Chris and Carol have any issues, as they are probably the most stable couple I’ve ever seen in a holiday movie, whether you are talking about their relationship as a couple or as co-parents. But, it’s established she is far more than his wife so, being that Holly is young and can skip classes without any issues, since they are just watching “Frozen” anyway, she becomes far more than the obligatory cute kid, but an asset.
On The Fence
The Innuendo & Dancing Around Cursing
As an adult, I can appreciate the dancing around cursing and innuendo. However, I can imagine a parent, especially if you are a bit conservative with what your kid is exposed to, maybe not appreciating hearing Holly say “Ass” or the film dancing around words and scenarios that make this feel like a hard PG movie.
No Notable Backstory On The Figurine People Pepper Was Collecting
When it comes to Gary, Pip, and Cordelia, because they are so comical, and how close Holly gets to Pip, it pushes you to wonder what happened? What deal did they make with Pepper, and over what? If the curse is broken, do they still have people and family to go home to? How long have they been trapped in Pepper’s Christmas hell hole?
Who Is This For?
Those who enjoy Christmas movies with the flashy and silliness made for kids but have the type of jokes that could go over kids’ heads and adults can enjoy.
December 1, 2023
How To Watch
1 Hour 57 Minutes
Noted Characters and Cast
Thaddeus J. Mixson
Tracee Ellis Ross
Content Rating Explanation
- Dialog: There is consistent innuendo and curse words bleeped with carols
- Violence: While there are fights for the rings Chris needs, there is no blood or anything notable
- Sexual Content: Just innuendo, mainly coming from Gary
- Miscellaneous: Nothing notable
If you like this movie, we recommend:
Check out our movies page for our latest movie reviews and recommendations.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments:
- When it comes to family movies, do you think they should include jokes and moments just for the entertainment of the adults in the room, or keep it strictly clean?
Follow, Like and Subscribe
Candy Cane Lane (2023) – Movie Review
Is “Candy Cane Lane” a watch-every-year kind of movie? No. However, compared to the usual churn we get at this time of year, it does feel like there is more effort put into this beyond Prime wanting to get their piece of the holiday movie marketplace.
No Notable Backstory On The Figurine People Pepper Was Collecting - 74%
The Innuendo & Dancing Around Cursing - 76%
Chris’ Family Had A Life Outside Him - 82%
Pepper - 83%
Gary - 87%
- Chris’ Family Had A Life Outside Him
- The Innuendo & Dancing Around Cursing
- No Notable Backstory On The Figurine People Pepper Was Collecting