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‘Sweet Cane Lane’ struggles to deliver a lot Christmas cheer

Annually round Christmas, I like to look at some new vacation films; I’m at all times on the hunt for a brand new traditional.

I really feel like one of many final films to essentially have any important endurance was 2004’s “The Polar Categorical.” There are, after all, at all times a couple of new contenders annually and a few that resonate with sure teams, however by way of mass enchantment, new classics could be arduous to seek out.

This 12 months, I turned my sights on Reginald Hudlin’s “Sweet Cane Lane,” presently streaming on Prime Video.

Nick (Eddie Murphy) loses his job proper earlier than the vacations and is scrambling to determine easy methods to make up for that. When his neighborhood pronounces that there will likely be a $100,000 prize for the best-decorated home, he decides to forgo his regular handmade decorations and visits a pop-up store run by the very intense Pepper (Jillian Bell). She sells him a Christmas tree primarily based on the tune “The 12 Days of Christmas.” However this sure-fire win comes with a value. Now, Nick and his household must work collectively to determine easy methods to save Christmas in additional methods than one.

This film is a multitude, however I nonetheless discovered it to be an satisfying mess. Murphy’s comedic chops proceed to carry up, and I don’t assume I’ll ever tire of his work. The household dynamic he builds with Tracee Ellis Ross as his spouse and the three youngsters works nicely for this film. The entire forged is nicely constructed, and I loved the entire characters, notably on the finish of the movie, when the humor within the film is at its zenith. The premise is exclusive sufficient to really feel recent, though it’s a play on extra worn tropes.

The story is scattered, at occasions leaving me questioning what the main target was. The film makes an enormous deal about Nick’s dedication to handmade decorations firstly of the movie, however by the top, that feels fully deserted. There are some good “comply with your personal path” moments with the youngsters; I simply want that thread had been adopted along with his adorning selections.

Visually, I very a lot loved this film. There are some small animated characters (together with the a capella group Pentatonix), and I completely love their aesthetic. There have been additionally some thrilling visuals surrounding the magical Christmas tree, which I discovered nicely completed. One motion scene involving the Lord a’leaping was numerous enjoyable.

At its coronary heart, this can be a film a few household studying to belief one another, even when they don’t at all times perceive each other. I believe that’s what allowed me to miss a number of the flaws on this film. When tensions run excessive due to an absence of communication and listening, it was good to look at a movie about folks making an effort to know one another higher.

I don’t know if this may make it into the annals of Christmas classics, however there are worse methods to spend a pair hours as we shut out 2023.

ALISE CHAFFINS is a Morgantown author who loves films and sharing her opinions. She evaluations a film from a streaming service each Saturday and one newly in theaters each Sunday. Discover extra at MacGuffin or That means on Substack.