Jim Henson’s Turkey Hollow (2015)

Wish it was less hollow

I rounded out Thanksgiving weekend with an oddball I recently read about that I’d never previously heard of, let alone seen — a made-for-TV, Thanksgiving-themed, Henson Company-produced fantasy family special. How could I resist?

As the movie opened, a chill ran down my spine, for I saw one of the most fearsome sights known to movie fans: One of the default Windows fonts being used for the opening credits. That was the first sign that we weren’t dealing with a very big budget and some corners might be cut.

Luckily, most of the movie isn’t quite so dire, but it did prepare me for a slightly shabbier presentation than the attractive poster indicated — we are firmly in low-budget TV movie territory, here.

The film’s connection to the Jim Henson Company is prominently advertised, so I expected lots of fun puppet action. Sadly, we have to wait almost half the film to see any, and we only get one group of four little creatures the entire movie. At least the creatures are cute, fun, and expressive with good sound design once they actually make it on screen.

The cast is a bunch of people I hadn’t heard of, plus Mary Steenburgen, who is squarely in “here for the paycheck” territory. But I mostly liked the cast. The lead kids are fine, especially the girl (Genevieve Buechner ), but the highlight is Linden Banks as a hammy villain (looking at his filmography, he often plays TV movie villains — he’s got the right facial structure for a bad guy and gives great line readings).

Also Ludacris is the narrator for some reason.

The story is nothing special, with most of its beats predictable at least 3 scenes in advance. The premise follows Disney Channel Original Movie template to a T (despite not being an official DCOM), and modestly effectively: A family visits an eccentric aunt in the boonies and hunt down a local legend. Meanwhile, they stumble upon a conspiracy involving… illegal turkeys. It’s not a tween TV movie unless there’s a few totally wacky plot points, and there certainly are here.

It’s not a horrible time, but I wish it was a bit punchier and more polished. It takes awhile to get going (almost half the movie) and has a half-hearted climax. One weird bit of flavor: The dialogue has a lot of mixed thoughts on veganism and ethical farming.

It’s not the worst way I could’ve spent an hour and a half during , and the movie looks decent, but I can safely say Turkey Hollow won’t become a Thanksgiving tradition.

Is It Good?

Not Very Good (3/8)

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