A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Jim Henson's Turkey Hollow is a movie inspired by some of the famed creator's unfinished work. It introduces a new collection of monsters in the context of a story that's rich in positive themes about families and coping with adversity. It's meant for whole-family viewing, but there are some scary moments involving a mythical forest monster and some bad guys' nefarious plans for a young brother and sister who happen upon their secret, and Annie's life hangs in the balance at one point. Expect to also hear some language ("hell," "damn," "fugly," and "what the fuzzy?") and some allusions to sexual attraction that likely will escape little ones' notice. The story takes care to explore the fallout from divorce in a realistic way, which also creates some tension among family members. Ultimately, though, it underscores the importance of strengthening family bonds and engaging in open discourse to resolve tough issues.
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What's the story?
JIM HENSON'S TURKEY HOLLOW opens with the Emmerson family -- dad, Ron (Jay Harrington), and kids Annie (Genevieve Buechner) and Timmy (Graham Verchere) -- on the road to the quaint little burg of Turkey Hollow for what Ron promises to be an old-fashioned Thanksgiving holiday with his Aunt Cly (Mary Steenburgen). Much to Annie's dismay, though, Cly's farm is decidedly off the grid, lacking essentials like internet, cell coverage, and even television. But the experience appeals to Timmy's adventurous side, and he starts poking around the place and the surrounding woods, which lands him in trouble with a scheming neighbor (Linden Banks) and threatens the family's claim on Cly's farm. Desperate to set things right, Timmy and Annie set out to catch a glimpse of the town's legendary forest creature, the Howling Hoodoo, but what they find instead is even more surprising.
Is it any good?
This adventurous romp inspired by the characters of one of Jim Henson's unproduced stories works hard to appeal to family members of every age, which is certainly no easy task. There's something here for everyone, from a curious new collection of Henson monsters to affecting themes about the struggles and triumphs of parenthood. It even mixes things up by casting Ludacris as the intermittent onscreen narrator (perhaps an appeal to hard-sell teens?), who provides the mostly serious story with a number of lighter moments. A conniving bad guy who's hampered by his bumbling lackeys is on par with many of Henson's previous productions, but monsters who are more Fraggle Rock than they are Muppets is a pleasant detour from the norm.
Even so, it's the human side of the story that really steals the Turkey Hollow show. Ron's divorce plays a prominent role in the tale, but even if that's not relatable to your family, other issues that face the Emmersons likely will be. Busy schedules, moody teens, unresolved emotions, and difficulty connecting are just some of the baggage Ron, Annie, and Timmy bring with them, and it's only through love, loyalty, determination, and openness to new ideas that they emerge stronger at the story's end. True, the Turkey Hollow monsters promise to be more of a hit with kids than these kinds of themes will be, but they're hard to miss nonetheless.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how these new Henson creations stack up against some of his legendary ones. Are they cute, or are they so ugly you can't help but like them? Why do you think the story's writers didn't have them talk? What do they help teach Ron, Annie, and Timmy?
To what degree can your family relate to the Emmersons' troubles? Do you ever feel like you need to unplug? How can doing so help you get back to life's basics? On the other hand, what are the benefits of having the kind of access that the internet gives you?
In broad terms, this story is about being open to new ideas. How does such a willingness help you get through difficult times? When have you experienced positive results from an unwelcome change?
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