Eddie Murphy finally made a Christmas movie with 'Candy Cane Lane.' Director explains how star 'blows up' the genre.

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Reginald Hudlin recognizes how competitive the Christmas movie landscape is.

What’s tough about making one, the veteran director says, is that “not only are you competing with some really great films, but every year there’s at least 30 new ones. And I’m being conservative when I say 30. You got the Hallmark movies. You’ve got every studio making them now.

“So the question is, how do you break yourself out of the pack? How do you make people go, ‘Wait a minute, this one actually does have something new to say.’ And that’s what was driving us. We wanted to be as original as possible, maintain the value systems that make you want to watch a Christmas movie, but beyond that, feel free to blow things up.”

Enter Candy Cane Lane, Hudlin’s new Christmas comedy starring Eddie Murphy as a recently laid-off family man who pours everything he has into winning the cash prize for his block’s animal holiday decorations contest.

 Claudette Barius /© Amazon Prime Video /Courtesy Everett Collection

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

Sure, Clark Griswold was obsessed with lighting up his house too, but he didn’t have to battle an evil elf (Jillian Bell) who tricks him into a nefarious deal to use her magic, nor have the help of the people (Nick Offerman, Robin Thede and Chris Redd) she has previously shrunk down to anthropomorphic plastic dolls as a result of similar pacts.

Yep, love it or hate it, Candy Cane Lane goes for it. Or “blows things up,” as Hudlin says.

It’s Murphy’s very first Christmas movie. And the film also marks a reunion for Hudlin, 61, (House Party, Marshall) and his iconic 62-year-old star, who previously teamed for the 1992 comedy Boomerang.

“We’ve talked about a lot of movies over the years,” Hudlin says. “We kept trying to find the right one, and this one just came together so smooth so quickly, you go, well, obviously this is it because it is nothing but green lights.”

 Reginald Hudlin and Eddie Murphy attend the World Premiere of Amazon Prime Video's

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

The re-teaming gives Hudlin a chance to reflect on his first collaboration with Murphy, who shot to stardom after debuting on Saturday Night Live in 1980 when he was only 19, with hit films like 48 Hrs. (1982), Trading Places (1983), Beverly Hills Cop (1984) and Coming to America (1987) to quickly follow.

“It was just crazy because I feel like I was a kid in high school, I had a bedtime, and Eddie Murphy was on Saturday Night Live … and I’m like, ‘Wait, we're the same age. How can all this be happening?’ So after the debut of my first movie, House Party, we get a phone call from his office going, ‘He wants to meet about a movie.’ And I’m like, ‘What?’ I just never imagined I’d work with a star of that magnitude. And we just kind of clicked, and we just kind of jammed on different ideas and we found the right one, which was Boomerang, and that was that. Then it was just us having fun every day.”

A 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) (©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Boomerang starred Murphy as a chauvinistic hotshot ad exec who’s put in check by a new female boss (Robin Givens). Though it earned a healthy $131 million at the box office, it’s generally considered one of the actor’s most underrated comedies.

Three decades later and Murphy is still considered one of the best in the game.

“First of all, his skillset as a comedian is unmatched,” Hudlin says. “Here’s a guy who can do physical comedy. He can do verbal comedy. He can go dirty, he can go clean, he can do imitations. I watch him take a line that’s not even written as a joke, and he puts the right English on the ball. All of a sudden it’s hilarious.

“And then [there’s] the underrated part of him, which is that he’s a damn fine actor. People just focus on the comedy, understandably. But when we have dramatic moments, he’s great.”

Candy Cane Lane is now streaming on Prime Video.

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