Televised Christmas decorating contests, hundreds of lawn inflatables that would pop under our heat, heatstroke-inducing woollen Christmas sweaters and public battles of college bands - there’s a whole lot of America in Candy Cane Lane.
The most recognisable sign of a Kiwi Christmas in the film may come in the form of the boxed wine; aka the trusty goon. So what can we here in Aotearoa hope to get out of Prime Video’s new Christmas blockbuster, starring Eddie Murphy and Tracee Ellis Ross?
Well according to director Reginald Hudlin and writer Kelly Younger, the messages in the movie transcend location.
Sitting down with the Herald in LA, the day after the movie’s premiere, acclaimed director Hudlin shared that it’s all about family – meaning New Zealanders can see themselves in the film too.
“Part of the point of the movie is that it doesn’t matter how you celebrate Christmas, as long as there’s love and family – you’re good. It doesn’t matter if there’s no snow, it doesn’t matter if there’s any of it really,” says Hudlin.
And Younger agrees, having written the movie about his own family’s dynamic – some of his dad’s handmade crafts even secretly made their way into the film – stating that it’s about who you share the holiday with, not where.
“Even though this is going to be watched around the world and not everyone has been to Southern California, and certainly everyone doesn’t know about this little town called El Segundo, I think the big themes of what’s important, of family, the love, the fun of the chaos and the stress and the exhaustion of the holidays, that it doesn’t matter where you are, it’s what you experience.”
“It brings us back to reminders of what it’s really about - it’s not what’s on the outside of your house, it’s who’s on the inside with you,” Younger concluded.
One person who was however obsessed with the outside of his house was the movie’s lead Chris Carver, played by comedian Eddie Murphy. So what was it like for director Hudlin to work with Murphy again, having first worked with him 31 years ago on 1992 hit Boomerang.
“It’s just a joy, cause you go ‘what you gonna do now? OMG, great idea, great call.’ ‘How are you going to handle that Tracee, OMG you went right back at him.’ It’s very exciting,” he shares of the experience.
And yes, the film does have plenty of American references throughout, but another thing New Zealand might be able to relate to is the extensive bird themes – we see you John Oliver.
So how exactly did the plethora of birds come about? Writer Younger admits that the level of birds in the 12 days of Christmas-themed storyline surprised even him.
“The 12 Days of Christmas is such a weird song, it’s so bizarre! And I knew I wanted to bring to life the lords-a-leaping and the maids-a-milking, but I didn’t even know how many birds were in that song – and who gives birds as a Christmas present right?” he laughs.
“The more birds the merrier – but there’s a lot of birds,” Younger admits.
And with many Kiwis plotting their Christmas movie watchlist as work begins to slow down for the year and whānau begin to gather, does Golden Globe winner Hudlin have any words for his Kiwi fans?
“I love and am grateful for your enthusiasm, I can’t wait for them to see it”.
His parting words?; “There’s nothing wrong with hot chocolate and beach.”
Candy Cane Lane is available now on Amazon Prime Video.