Thanksgiving is here, and as people across the country risk the lives of their families in order to celebrate a holiday based on lies, it’s important for those of us who are staying at home have something to do so that we can stay appropriately (or more accurately, inappropriately) festive. Unfortunately, Jim Henson’s Turkey Hollow is not the flick for the job.
The film follows Tim (Graham Verchere) and Annie Emmerson (Genevieve Buechner) as they visit their kooky vegan Aunt (Mary Steenburgen) following their parent’s divorce. After discovering his late uncle’s efforts to track down the Howling Hoodoo, a local creature of folklore, Tim decides to take up the hunt himself with the reluctant help of Annie, who’s only participating because she doesn’t want her brother to wind up dead in the woods. The two stumble upon a couple hideous creatures who aid them on their quest. Ludacris also chimes in from time to time to narrate.
The main problem with this movie is that it’s just not very fun. There’s only one other addition from the creature shop, and the creatures I previously mentioned are obnoxious and contribute almost nothing to the actual plot, instead they just act as filler. Speaking of filler, Ludacris’s narration exclusively serves to stop any forward momentum this film has going for it. It feels as though the team was going for a storyteller type of vibe, which would make sense given that this film was originally pitched to Henson himself; however not only is Ludacris no John Hurt, but his dialogue misses the charm the series had.
On the positives, Linden Banks as Eldridge Sump does give a very good villainous performance and delivers the single best line of dialogue in the movie, “That tree hugging, hemp growing socialist witch has gone too far this time,” which I have since adopted whenever my dog starts barking in the middle of the night. The middle of the film also nearly has this childlike sense of adventure as the siblings descend deeper into the woods. That sense is undermined by the weak writing and the four loud, fuzzy creatures accompanying them, but the mystery of the Howling Hoodoo can be captivating, if only for brief moments.
In the end, Turkey Hollow simply doesn’t feel like a Jim Henson movie. When it tried to be funny, I yawned, when it tried to be sincere, I laughed, and above all else the world it presents feels so limited and controlled, which is the exact opposite of what Henson stood for in the first place. As much as I’d have liked to, I cannot recommend Turkey Hollow.
By Jason Yearout