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  • The twelve days of Christmas are brought to life in a new film directed by Reginald Hudlin.

The twelve days of Christmas are brought to life in a new film directed by Reginald Hudlin.

12 days of Christmas
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In the new film “Candy Cane Lane,” Christmas enchantment is more than just a sensation. It’s quite literal. In a neighbourhood competition for the best-decorated house, Chris Carver, played by Eddie Murphy, seeks a competitive advantage from a somewhat nasty elf, portrayed by Jillian Bell, and finds himself facing the 12 days of Christmas come to life.


JILLIAN BELL: (As Pepper) You must collect the golden rings before the ancient clock tower chimes. Then everyone will praise the Christmas King. An isthmus is a narrow stretch of land.

(As Chris Carver) EDDIE MURPHY: An isthmus.

BELL: (As Pepper) I don’t know what else rhymes with Christmas.

SUMMERS: Director Reginald Hudlin has put up a wild family experience. Hudlin has accomplished a great deal. He’s run BET, authored Black Panther comics for Marvel, and directed another Eddie Murphy classic, “Boomerang.” However, this is his first Christmas film. So, as a skilled storyteller, I wanted to ask him what he considers to be the necessary parts of a great Christmas movie.

REGINALD HUDLIN: You need family, love, amazing decorations, and fantastic Christmas music. Those are the four bare minimums, in my opinion.

SUMMERS: And your film “Candy Cane Lane” contains all of it and then some. It has a lot of space. It’s absurd and outlandish. It’s both amusing and heartwarming. But I’d like you to tell us about some of the ways it’s a little bit of a genre-breaker. This is not your typical Christmas film.

HUDLIN: No, it does not. I took my niece to the premiere, and afterwards, she said, “I had no idea it was a horror film” (laughs). It’s not a scary movie. But she was like, wow, you went to all these locations I never dreamed you’d go to.

(As Pepper) Please accept my apologies. I didn’t want to frighten you.

MURPHY: (Laughter as Chris Carver).

(As Pepper) BELL: Who am I kidding? Naturally, I did. What would Christmas be without a little horror (laughter)?

HUDLIN: The point is, the base of what makes a great Christmas movie is present throughout. But it’s like, what else can we say? How can we set ourselves out from the sea of Christmas movies? And I thought, well if we add a kung fu battle, a car chase, and jump scares, we’ll have a truly unique motion picture.

SUMMERS: So tell us about your idea of “more is more.” Is there a sequence that really captures the scope and majesty of this film for you?

HUDLIN: You know, there’s that moment during the track meet where, all of a sudden, these tree decorations come to life and attack the family in different locations and at different times.


MURPHY: (As Chris Carver) What are you doing to me? You should work at Cirque du Soleil.

HUDLIN: And they’re like, “Wait a minute, what’s going on?” And the audience is having a fantastic time. They’re giggling. They are overjoyed. They’re worried about our main characters and can’t believe what they’re witnessing since it’s the strangest material they’ve ever seen jumbled up in one film.

SUMMERS: We should mention that this film was a reunion for you and Eddie Murphy, as well as your first collaboration since “Boomerang” in 1992. Why did it take you so long to get back together professionally?

HUDLIN: It’s sort of strange because we had a terrific time making “Boomerang,” and it’s still a really popular film.


HUDLIN: But it’s just finding the perfect screenplay and – OK, he’s down. I’m done. We’re both quite choosy, you know. And it all came together so quickly. It was like there was no second thought, you know? We held a gathering. I presented him with my notion of what the film should be. And as we already stated, So, let’s go to work, so bang.

SUMMERS: I mean, there’s this incredibly lovely family dynamic in this film, and I’d like to focus on the bond between Eddie Murphy’s character, Chris, and his youngest daughter, Holly, portrayed by Madison Thomas. And the chemistry is electric on film. I’m hoping you’ll be able to lift the curtain a little and tell us what it was like on set.

HUDLIN: Well, I think the foundation of it is Eddie being such an eager father. He adores being a father. He has ten children, you know? So, you know, all of it comes from a very genuine place for him. This was Madison’s first film. I mean, I’m not sure if she knew who Eddie Murphy was or not.


HUDLIN: But she’s an incredible young actor who got into the essence of this very cute girl who can be a genuine boss.


MADISON THOMAS (as Holly Carver): So, dad, what are you going to do?

MURPHY: (As Chris Carver) I’m going back to that strange woman to see if she can get me some new components.

MADISON: (As Holly Carver) May I join you?

MURPHY: (As Chris Carver) Are you out of school?

MADISON: (As Holly Carver) Today is the final day. We’re viewing “Frozen” in three separate classrooms.

MURPHY: (As Chris Carver) You’re adorable, but you’re also incredibly manipulative.

SUMMERS: I mean, just thinking about this group as a whole makes me think of the type of cast that could get up to some hijinks on set, who could ping pong off of each other and provide a lot of excitement. What was the mood like during making this film?

HUDLIN: Yes, especially with the residents of the village. We nickname these figures Pip and Cordelia and the Lamplighter because they resided in Christmas Village and were transformed into living tree decorations.

NICK OFFERMAN: (As Pip) No, Christmas is nice once a year, but it’s a nightmare every day. For the past ten years, I’ve just eaten chestnuts. I’m completely jammed.

ROBIN THEDE: (As Cordelia) The constant cheerfulness, these silly costumes…

(As The Lamplighter) CHRIS REDD: And it never stops. I turn on the lighting. I blow it out, light it again – light, blow, light, blow…

THEDE: (As Cordelia) Put a stop to it.

(As The Lamplighter) REDD:…Light, blow – I’d love to, Cordelia.

HUDLIN: They were a never-ending comedy team. Robin Thede, Nick Offerman, and Chris Redd all have very distinct comedic approaches, yet they blended brilliantly. They were also continuously freestyling. If you happened to stroll by where they were seated, They would either make fun of you or tell you a joke. It has the potential to go either way.

SUMMERS: What are your favourite holiday customs?

HUDLIN: When I was a youngster, the Christmas tree stayed up in the attic all year. Then I’d disassemble it and reassemble it. And it was one of those silver tinsel trees, you know. Then you turned on the light bulb, which had the spinning wheel with various basic colours on it. And that was my Christmas. And I said to myself, “Well, you can’t beat that.” But now we go for a real tree, and if our family travels, we bring Christmas ornaments with us. So we have a Hawaiian ornament, a London ornament, a Zurich ornament, and anything else. So the tree truly reflects our whole family and what we’ve accomplished. And we still wear the dry pasta decorations that the kids created in second grade. So it’s a shambles, but it’s a loving shambles, just like our family.

SUMMERS: Thank you very much, Reginald Hudlin.

HUDLIN: Oh, thank you very much.

SUMMERS: He directed “Candy Cane Lane,” which is available on Prime Video.


(KELLI-LEIGH SINGS) What we go through is a miracle. Let us go mystical. Here’s what we’re going to do. We intend to strive high. We’ll locate it for you. NPR supplied the transcript; all rights reserved.

An NPR contractor creates NPR transcripts under a tight schedule. This material is not final and may be amended or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability are subject to change. The audio record is the authorized record of NPR’s programming.

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