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Jim Henson: Idea Man works reasonably well as an amiable introduction to the man who gifted the world The Muppets but do not expect much insight into Henson’s inner drive or personal demons.

With Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock and The Dark Crystal Jim Henson had a huge part in shaping my youth, so I very much looked forward to this documentary about the groundbreaking puppeteer and filmmaker. Alas director Ron Howard plays it a bit too safe to fully engage the viewer.

Let’s start with the good news. Jim Henson: Idea Man contains a plethora of fun behind-the-scenes footage and indelible snippets from the Muppet archives, which are guaranteed to put a big smile on your face. The doc thus shows once again how much joy Henson gifted the world during his career.

Interviews with his family and collaborators, including right-hand man Frank Oz, add a handful of nice anecdotes and give some insight in who the man was, but they lack the depth necessary to elevate Idea Man above other artist documentaries.

For all the talk about how innovative Henson was – he is on more than one occasion described as an experimental filmmaker at heart – this film is anything but. The resulting disconnect between form and subject therefore feels like a letdown, a missed opportunity to continue Henson’s legacy.

So while it’s a good thing that a broad audience on Disney+ will be educated on the amazing legacy of the Muppets creator, it’s a shame that his brilliance isn't translated into a more memorable documentary.

release: 2024

director: Ron Howard

starring: Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Brian Henson, Rita Moreno


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