Eddie Murphy debuts in a holiday film with ‘Candy Cane Lane.’ Director unveils why the star ‘reinvents’ the genre.

Reginald Hudlin is well aware of the intense rivalry within the holiday film arena.

Creating a standout festive flick, the experienced filmmaker elaborates, means “you’re not just up against an array of exceptional movies, but every single year at least 30 new competitors emerge. And that’s me being modest with the number 30. There are the Hallmark productions. Every major studio is churning them out.

“Therefore, the challenge becomes: How do you distinguish your film from the rest? How do you make audiences say, ‘Hold on, this particular one truly delivers something fresh.’ And that was our driving force. We aimed to be as ingenious as can be, preserving the principles that attract viewers to holiday films, but beyond that, we dared to shatter the mold.”

In comes Candy Cane Lane, Hudlin’s latest yuletide comedy featuring Eddie Murphy as a recently unemployed father who dedicates his all to secure the money prize in the annual Christmas decorating contest on his street.

CANDY CANE LANE, Eddie Murphy, 2023. ph: Claudette Barius /© Amazon Prime Video /Courtesy Everett CollectionCANDY CANE LANE, Eddie Murphy, 2023. ph: Claudette Barius /© Amazon Prime Video /Courtesy Everett Collection

Eddie Murphy in Candy Cane Lane. (Claudette Barius /© Amazon Prime Video /Courtesy Everett Collection)

True, Clark Griswold was passionate about illuminating his home as well, but he didn’t encounter a malevolent elf (Jillian Bell) deceiving him into a corrupt bargain to utilize her sorcery, nor did he receive assistance from the individuals (Nick Offerman, Robin Thede, and Chris Redd) whom she had previously transformed into animated plastic figures through similar agreements.

Indeed, whether you adore or despise it, Candy Cane Lane really goes for it. Or “reinvents the genre,” as Hudlin puts it.

This is Murphy’s inaugural holiday film. The movie also signifies a reunion for the 61-year-old Hudlin (House Party, Marshall) with the celebrated 62-year-old luminary, as they once joined forces for the 1992 hit Boomerang.

“We have pondered numerous film ideas over time,” Hudlin reflects. “We consistently sought the perfect match, and this film materialized so effortlessly, so swiftly, it was evident that this was the chosen one since everything just paved the way effortlessly.”

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 28: Reginald Hudlin and Eddie Murphy attend the World Premiere of Amazon Prime Video's LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 28: Reginald Hudlin and Eddie Murphy attend the World Premiere of Amazon Prime Video's

Reginald Hudlin and Eddie Murphy at the world premiere of Candy Cane Lane on Nov. 28, 2023 in Los Angeles, Calif. (Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

The alliance offers Hudlin an opportunity to reminisce about his initial cooperation with Murphy, whose fame skyrocketed following his 1980 debut on Saturday Night Live at the tender age of 19, with blockbusters such as 48 Hrs. (1982), Trading Places (1983), Beverly Hills Cop (1984), and Coming to America (1987) rapidly ensuing.

“The whole experience was surreal because here I was, almost like a high school kid, enforced with a curfew, and there’s Eddie Murphy shimmering on Saturday Night Live… And I’m thinking, ‘How is this even happening? We are of the same age. How can such feats be achieved?’ So after premiering my debut, House Party, his office reached out, expressing his wish to discuss a film project. And I’m like, ‘Really?’ Never did I think I’d collaborate with a star of such stature. But we just hit it off right away, and as we brainstormed various concepts, we uncovered the perfect one, which was Boomerang. From there, it was all about the enjoyment we shared each day.”

A still shot of Eddie Murphy in in the 1992 film BoomerangA still shot of Eddie Murphy in in the 1992 film Boomerang

Eddie Murphy in 1992’s Boomerang. (Bruce W. Talamon/Paramount courtesy of Everett Collection)

Boomerang featured Murphy as an egocentric advertising executive challenged by a new female superior (Robin Givens). Although it garnered a respectable $131 million at the global box office, it’s often regarded as one of the comedian’s undervalued gems.

Years later, Murphy still reigns as one of the comedic giants.

“First off, his talent as a humorist is second to none,” Hudlin observes. “This is someone who excels at slapstick. He’s adept with verbal wit. He can veer towards bawdy, or keep it wholesome, and he’s a master of impressions. I’ve seen him transform a line that’s not designed as humorous, give it the right spin, and suddenly it’s side-splitting.

“Then there’s his often overlooked attribute: his prowess as a serious actor. Understandably, people tend to focus on the comedy. Yet, when it comes time for poignant scenes, he truly shines.”

Candy Cane Lane is now available for streaming on Prime Video.

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