Streaming now on the CTV App is Lifetime’s CANDY CANE CANDIDATE, filmed just outside Ottawa. The Holiday flick centers on Julia Chen (Jacky Lai) whom after just losing an election, returns home to North Falls where she decides to run for Mayor. Her opponent however, is former crush Parker (Jake Epstein), and after this many years apart, they realize they might be each other’s toughest opponent… and best match!
Canadian Actor/Director Pat Kiely takes the reins here in this harmless Holiday jaunt. While in ways it follows a Sweet Home Alabama-esque archetype of a successful woman who returns to her hometown to stumble upon love, the story is told even more with a feminist slant. We are asked what Julia wants and this doesn’t come right away necessarily. And while she very much is an underdog to the Town Hero in Parker, she must fight to get what she truly wants and level the playing ground with her intellect and political experience. All while being super-flirtatious with Parker. And he isn’t complaining. He’s a bit distracted by her at times to even notice!
Lai carries much of the weight of the Rom-Com on her own and is likable even if at times we feel she’s swooping-in and taking away something Parker has worked so hard for and deserves. It is not an easy task to make a character like this relatable. Epstein is agreeable and it isn’t tough to see why the Aunties of the town take so easily to him, even if he is a bit of a pushover at times. We would’ve liked to see the Script give him a little more bite. Eddie Renout gets third billing as Julia‘s mother Sylvie, bringing a calming presence to her daughter’s hectic life. She can do Jasmine Tea, Congee, Egg Nog, Bubble Tea and a killer Hot Chocolate to boot! Whomever the Food Consultant was on this project really paid attention to the details. Note: Eddie is my actual Godsister and she has NEVER been this hospitable to me in real life, so I am a little bitter and jealous! And Danny Vo makes his debut as Julia‘s nephew Noah and does it with presence.
We get exactly what CANDY CANE CANDIDATE is trying to do, exploring stories we all want to see over the Holidays, but through a more inclusive lens and we appreciate that. Clocking-in at just under an hour and thirty minutes, this is an easy watch if you’re looking for something with a bit of charm and progressiveness.
If you missed your chance to see CANDY CANE CANDIDATE on CTV Drama over the Holidays, you can stream it anytime on the CTV App! The Film is available to stream in the U.S. on Prime Video as well.