If you’re wondering why I would bother it’s because the film, Turkey Hollow, featured some creations from Jim Henson’s Creature Workshop. I thought that surely the puppets could keep my interest buoyed for a little while. I was so wrong…
The initial premise is an exercise in blandness: a recently divorced father takes his kids to stay with a kooky relative in a small town adjacent to an enchanted forest where the children discover adorable misunderstood magical creatures.
The first thing that hits me is the music that feels like it’s from a sketch mocking Lifetime movies. Each and every sound is the equivalent of a scuffed birthday card on a supermarket floor that you’re thinking about picking up and putting back on the shelf until you see how lame its cat-based ‘don’t you wish you could paws time?’ pun is.
The children arrive at the home and the teenage girl asks where the television is. Surprise! Their great aunt is a bag of squawking loons who thinks cell phones give you cancer. She has basically no electronics. You screwed up Lifetime. This is 2016. The girl would first ask what the wifi code is, and then if there was a television. If you screw up something that easy… Coincidentally the actress who played the great aunt also once played a murderer on Law and Order: SVU who killed two children. There are two children in this movie… Come on Lifetime don’t let it be a coincidence…
Alas, the younger boy does not find a basement full of rusty murder implements, but he does find his ‘crazy’ uncle’s diary of the strange things he’s seen out in the forest. He also finds a keyboard with a trumpet attached to it. Keep this image in mind; it gets stupider later.
Naturally the boy disobeys the authority figures and goes wandering around in the woods in search of mythical creatures. Somehow, in the middle of the woods, he runs into a chain link fence. The fence has a chain… that is not locked. The boy moves the chain and opens it, causing more than a hundred turkeys to all rush out the door and escape the farm where they were being raised. The boy is caught and suddenly he is on the hook for a ten thousand dollar turkey-debt. Keep in mind that none of the three people working the farm decide to try and wrangle the slow-moving turkeys that escaped thirty seconds ago. (Also… what kind of Chicken Run nonsense is this where an open door means all the turkeys will recognize that fact and flee at once.)
Don’t you worry though, there’s a local contest where if you can get a photograph of a mythical creature, you win exactly 10,000 dollars! How convenient! So the idiot boy takes the keyboard with the trumpet attached to it out into the wilderness, assuming the keyboard is a weapon designed by his uncle to combat the magical monsters. You read that right. He assumes a keyboard, that makes sound when he hits the keys, is a weapon. He can’t quite grasp the idea that it’s a machine for communicating with them.
His older sister tags along. This is where the puppets in question show up. They’re brown, they have beaky noses, they each make one sound effect, and they’re generally underwhelming. Also they eat rocks so they can save someone’s life later by chewing through rocks… because otherwise that person would have to die!
I won’t even start on how they completely forget to take pictures of them for what feels like hours. Here’s some speedy plot: the kids find the turkeys that were secretly stored in the woods to make them pay the debt anyway, get kidnapped, and get freed. That’s when the nefarious turkey farmers come up with the brilliant plan to take cattle prods and brutally shock the children until it gives them amnesia and they forget seeing both the turkeys and the bad guys’ stash of illegal Russian turkey growth hormones. Yes, again, you read that correctly.
Around this time the dad and the great aunt are wandering around in the forest and looking for the kids. The dad is a sourpuss who is always selfishly working to provide for his family (what a dick) and naturally, as an extension of being a responsible adult, he professes that he believes in science so none of this magic forest stuff could possibly be real. (It wouldn’t be a movie if trusting science didn’t either make you a wacko stitching people together or a relentless dullard whose dialogue is ninety percent excuses.)
In the end the children don’t get shocked. The head evil turkey wrangler goes to prison. The magical creatures continue to be magical. Everyone is happy and enjoying Thanksgiving dinner except for me because I’m vomiting on the computer, myself, the ceiling, and the people who came to check on me.
I hate you Lifetime. Why would you do this to me? A Lifetime original movie plus Jim Henson is like golfing with cherry bombs. It’s like piloting a sailboat where the sails are made of cold cuts that have been sitting in the ocean sun for a week.
Also, it was narrated by Ludacris, who frequently broke the fourth wall in addition to my hopes and dreams.