When it comes to Jim Henson, you need only read this article to know how obsessed I can be (and some of the other writers here aren’t far behind me.) When I found out that an infamous unproduced project of his was finally coming to television, I was pretty excited. For those who aren’t gigantic Henson nerds, “The Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow” was a proposed Thanksgiving special that Jim and longtime Muppet writer, Jerry Juhl, came up with in 1968. Over the next year or two, they developed dozens of pages of script notes, brought in people to write the music, and even built and photographed puppets.
Last year, all this material was turned into a lovely graphic novel by Roger Langridge. Perhaps inspired by that book’s quality, the Jim Henson company struck a deal with Lifetime to produce a “Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow” movie for their network. Now known as just Turkey Hollow, the movie has made it out just in time for Thanksgiving week. It’s a story about two kids who get dragged out to the wilds of New England to spend Thanksgiving with their depressed father and weird hippy Aunt Cly (played by the amazing Mary Steenburgen). Although initially bored and torn with family strife, the kids come across strange little creatures who have an innate and poignant connection to the forest and to their family.
The story is definitely not going to blow you away. There are some very well-worn characters and plot elements and it reeks of Lifetime-approved sentimentality. But the performances are mostly good, and always earnest. The creatures are charming and look great. And among those aforementioned dusty plot elements, there are still some surprises and lovably weird quirks that jump out at you. If you have a generous helping of childhood in your heart, you’ll enjoy it. Even if you’re not so sure, it’s fun enough to be worth a try!
Feature image credit: Jim Henson Company