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Candy Cane Lane, Netflix’s May December, and every new movie to watch this weekend

Eddie Murphy has a new Christmas movie!

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Eddie Murphy in a cheery Christmas sweater Image: Prime Video

Happy December, Polygon readers. Christmas movie season is here, and there are tons of new Christmas movies slated to come out over the next month.

This week, there are four in that category: the critically acclaimed The Holdovers, Eddie Murphy’s Candy Cane Lane, Netflix’s Family Switch, and the horror movie It’s a Wonderful Knife. But that’s not all that’s new this week: Carol director Todd Haynes has a buzzy new movie out on Netflix, there’s a second movie with musical numbers named Leo dropping on Netflix in as many weeks, and big franchise reboots Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny and The Exorcist: Believer make their streaming platform debuts.

That’s only touching the surface — December is usually a busy time for new movies to watch at home, and this year is no different. Let’s dig into it.


New on Netflix

May December

Where to watch: Available to stream on Netflix

(L-R) Natalie Portman as Elizabeth Berry and Julianne Moore as Gracie Atherton-Yoo in May December. Photo: Francois Duhamel/Netflix

Genre: Drama
Run time: 1h 57m
Director: Todd Haynes
Cast: Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore, Charles Melton

One of our great modern filmmakers is back with another thorny story — this about an actor (Natalie Portman) studying a woman (Julianne Moore) she is going to play in a film. The woman (based loosely on convicted sex offender Mary Kay Letourneau) is known for her scandalous relationship with her husband (Charles Melton), who she first met when he was a minor. Melton has already won multiple awards for his portrayal of the husband, and as it’s a Todd Haynes movie, you can expect a sumptuous, at times uncomfortable watch led by fantastic performances.

Leo

Where to watch: Available to stream on Netflix

Vijay dances with hundreds of people in a warehouse in Leo Image: Seven Screen Studios

Genre: Thriller
Run time: 2h 39m
Director: Lokesh Kanagaraj
Cast: Vijay

No, you are not seeing double. Yes, last week, Netflix premiered its “Adam Sandler as a talking lizard” animated musical Leo. This week, the Tamil box-office hit Leo, a remake of David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence, lands on the platform.

Both Leos on Netflix prominently feature musical numbers, but they couldn’t be more different movies. In this one, a coffee shop owner and family man (Vijay) dispatches a group of killers at his business, making him an overnight sensation. This raises the interest of a gangster, who believes the man is his long-lost son.

Leo is the third movie in director Lokesh Kanagaraj’s LCU, after Kaithi and Vikram. There are a few repeat characters in this one, but neither of the previous movies are necessary to understand it (but they are both better, so I’d say they’re worth checking out).

Family Switch

Where to watch: Available to stream on Netflix

(L-R) Ed Helms as Bill, Brady Noon as Wyatt, Emma Myers as CC and Jennifer Garner as Jess in Family Switch. Photo: Elizabeth Morris/Netflix

Genre: Sci-fi family comedy
Run time: 1h 41m
Director: McG
Cast: Jennifer Garner, Ed Helms, Emma Myers

It’s Freaky Friday, squared! From McG (Charlie’s Angels), this spin on the body-swap trope adds a dash of Christmas to the formula and has all four members of the principal family swap bodies.

American Symphony

Where to watch: Available to stream on Netflix

Jon Batiste performing on stage in American Symphony. Image: Netflix

Genre: Documentary
Run time: 1h 44m
Director: Matthew Heineman
Cast: Jon Batiste, Suleika Jaouad

This documentary follows two artists in love facing a difficult situation: One, award-winning musician Jon Batiste, is writing a symphony, while his partner, bestselling author Suleika Jaouad, is being treated for cancer.

New on Disney Plus

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

Where to watch: Available to stream on Disney Plus

Indiana Jones looks panicked as he drives a cart with Helena and Teddy in the backseat in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny Image: Lucasfilm

Genre: Action-adventure
Run time: 2h 34m
Director: James Mangold
Cast: Harrison Ford, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Mads Mikkelsen

Harrison Ford’s final outing as Indiana Jones sees the whip-wielding archaeologist adventurer embark on one last intrepid expedition with his estranged goddaughter Helena (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) as they race across the world in search of an ancient artifact before a Nazi rocket scientist (Mads Mikkelsen) gets his nefarious hands on it.

From our review:

Mangold is a very fine director capable of helming solid crowd-pleasers (Ford v Ferrari, Walk the Line) and even breathing new life into the dying X-Men franchise with Logan. But Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny looks anonymous. Its visual style is drab in a way that drains the film of any personality. When Indiana Jones makes his way through boobytrapped caves in torchlight in Raiders of the Lost Ark, the contrast between the outside world and this creepy tomb evokes a singular wonder. But virtually every scene in darkness here is scantily lit and hard to see. And like many a modern blockbuster, Dial of Destiny leans on rapid cuts that heighten the pace of Indiana’s brawls with the Nazis, but the choreography is barely discernible.

New on Hulu

A Compassionate Spy

Where to watch: Available to stream on Hulu

Stylized graphic of Theodore Alvin Hall nametag in “A Compassionate Spy.” Image: Magnolia Pictures

Genre: Documentary
Run time: 1h 41m
Director: Steve James
Cast: Tom Goodwin, Mickey O’Sullivan

Legendary documentarian Steve James (Hoop Dreams) turns his camera toward the story of Theodore Hall, a physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project and gave information to the Soviets about the development of The Bomb. The documentary uses interview footage with Hall and his wife, as well as reenactments and archival footage.

New on Prime Video

Candy Cane Lane

Where to watch: Available to stream on Prime Video

Eddie Murphy in a cheery Christmas sweater Image: Prime Video

Genre: Christmas
Run time: 1h 57m
Director: Reginald Hudlin
Cast: Eddie Murphy, Tracee Ellis Ross, Jillian Bell

It’s a very Eddie Murphy Christmas on Prime Video. He’s a man determined to win a Christmas home decoration contest, and he makes a deal with an elf (Jillian Bell) that has unforeseen consequences on his town.

New on Paramount Plus

The Lesson

Where to watch: Available to stream on Paramount Plus

Richard E. Grant sits at a dinner table and looks severe in The Lesson. Image: Bleecker Street

Genre: Thriller
Run time: 1h 43m
Director: Alice Troughton
Cast: Daryl McCormack, Richard E. Grant, Julie Delpy

A young writer (Daryl McCormack) agrees to tutor the son of his idol (Richard E. Grant). But all is not as it seems, as dark secrets threaten to tangle the writer in this family’s web.

Earth Mama

Where to watch: Available to stream on Paramount Plus

A pregnant woman (Tia Nomore) sits on the floor with two young children as they read and play in Earth Mama. Image: A24

Genre: Drama
Run time: 1h 37m
Director: Savanah Leaf
Cast: Tia Nomore, Erika Alexander, Doechii

A pregnant single mother in the Bay Area hopes to reclaim her two children from foster care in this moving drama from first-time feature director Savanah Leaf. It’s one of the best movies of the year.

New on Peacock

The Exorcist: Believer

Where to watch: Available to stream on Peacock

Two possessed, scarred and bruised children sit back to back on the floor and glare at the camera above them in The Exorcist: Believer Image: Universal Studios

Genre: Horror
Run time: 1h 51m
Director: David Gordon Green
Cast: Leslie Odom Jr., Ellen Burstyn, Ann Dowd

After a short theatrical run, David Gordon Green’s new entry in the Exorcist franchise arrives at home. It’s a bizarre twist on the franchise, per our review:

Up until this most recent movie, the title The Exorcist carried some weight. While its role as a representation of quality was up for debate, its mark as a sign of ambition was not. Since the original Exorcist, the series has provided some of American cinema’s best and most interesting artists with space to ruminate on faith and evil. Believer lacks the ambition that’s meant to define an Exorcist movie. This is the most profound statement the movie has to offer, seemingly by accident: If the result of moving past God is that everything in the world will feel as empty and pointless as The Exorcist: Believer, we should cling to faith forever.

New on Shudder

It’s a Wonderful Knife

Where to watch: Available to stream on Shudder

Jane Widdop smiles with twinkly lights in the background in It’s a Wonderful Knife Image: RLJE Films

Genre: Horror
Run time: 1h 27m
Director: Tyler MacIntyre
Cast: Jane Widdop, Justin Long, Joel McHale

It’s a Wonderful Life meets the slasher genre in this Christmas movie about a girl who wishes she’d never been born, only to discover how many lives that would truly cost.

New on Starz

Joy Ride

Where to watch: Available to stream on Starz

(L-R) Stephanie Hsu, Sherry Cola, Ashley Park, and Sabrina Wu in Joyride. Image: Araquel/Lionsgate

Genre: Comedy
Run time: 1h 35m
Director: Adele Lim
Cast: Ashley Park, Sherry Cola, Stephanie Hsu

What if someone took the 2017 comedy Girls Trip and combined it with the soul-searching drama of Return to Seoul? You might get something like Joy Ride, the new comedy about a four Chinese American friends who bond through their shared adventure to track down their birth mothers.

New on MGM Plus

Bottoms

Where to watch: Available to stream on MGM Plus

A group of high school girls in Bottoms. Image: Orion Pictures

Genre: Comedy
Run time: 1h 31m
Director: Emma Seligman
Cast: Rachel Sennott, Ayo Edebiri, Marshawn Lynch

Teen girl comedies are back in a big way, and Bottoms is a standout of this year’s crop. A trio of comedic powerhouses star in this movie about high school girls who start a fight club to try and impress the popular girls at school they have crushes on. Chaos ensues.

From our review:

Bottoms is strongest when it fully indulges that satire. Part of the high school’s hype strategy for the big football game involves plastering the halls with heavily sexualized shirtless posters of the star quarterback. A classroom scene inexplicably involves one of the students standing in a cage. After a particularly climatic moment, a sad montage plays out, set to none other than Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated,” a needle drop so ridiculously 2000s that it transcends time and space.

Marlowe

Where to watch: Available to stream on MGM Plus

A man (Liam Neeson) standing in a forested area in front of a dark sedan dress in a brown pinstripe suit, dark red tie, and a gray fedora. Image: Quim Vives/Briarcliff Entertainment

Genre: Neo-noir crime thriller
Run time: 1h 49m
Director: Neil Jordan
Cast: Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger, Jessica Lange

Liam Neeson (Taken) plays Raymond Chandler’s iconic down-on-his-luck detective in a feature length adaptation of the 2014 Philip Marlowe novel The Black-Eyed Blonde by John Banville. Hired by a glamorous heiress (Diane Kruger) to ascertain the whereabouts of her ex-lover and bring them back, Marlowe quickly finds himself entrenched in an investigation that goes far deeper (and potentially far deadlier) than a lover’s quarrel.

New to rent

The Holdovers

Where to watch: Available to rent on Amazon, Apple, and Vudu

Paul Giamatti gesturing towards a tree in a large room in The Holdovers. Image: Focus Features

Genre: Comedy drama
Run time: 2h 13m
Director: Alexander Payne
Cast: Paul Giamatti, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Dominic Sessa

A strong late awards-season contender, The Holdovers has been beloved by every single person I’ve seen watch it. It’s about three people left at a New England boarding school for Christmas in 1970 — an uptight teacher (Paul Giamatti), the school’s head cook (Da’Vine Joy Randolph), and a sulking student (Dominic Sessa).

Freelance

Where to watch: Available to rent on Amazon, Apple, and Vudu

(L-R) John Cena, Juan Pablo Raba, and Alison Brie in Freelance. Image: Relativity Media

Genre: Action comedy
Run time: 1h 48m
Director: Pierre Morel
Cast: John Cena, Alison Brie, Juan Pablo Raba

Taken director Pierre Morel moves to a more comedic mode here, in this movie about a former Special Forces officer (John Cena) and a journalist (Alison Brie) who travel to a fictional country together to interview the nation’s dictator.

Five Nights at Freddy’s

Where to watch: Available to rent on Amazon, Apple, and Peacock

Five Nights at Freddy’s signature animatronics — Foxy, Chica, Freddy Fazbear, and Bonnie — lurk in the darkness in the movie spinoff Photo: Patti Perret/Universal Pictures

Genre: Supernatural horror thriller
Run time: 1h 50m
Director: Emma Tammi
Cast: Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Lail, Piper Rubio

The massive hit video game series finally gets a horror movie adaptation, and Universal is going with the 2021 release model of simultaneous home and theatrical releases. Will it work for them? Only time will tell, but what it means for you is that you can watch a movie about the infamous, creepy pizza restaurant and its cursed animatronic animals either at home or in theaters.

From our review:

The movie’s funniest line is unintentional, when Mike earnestly explains, “I’m having a hard time just processing everything that’s happened,” as if he’s working through a tough breakup rather than a series of increasingly bizarre animatronic attacks. He’s right, though. For a movie with such a simple, appealing premise, Five Nights at Freddy’s is a lot to process.

The next level of puzzles.

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