When you think of creative legends from the 20th century, Jim Henson and Walt Disney are in the same league – big dreamers who broke molds. Jim Henson: Idea Man takes us on a journey through Henson’s career, with insights from colleagues and his children. Pairing Henson’s impact on entertainment with Ron Howard’s direction makes for a winning combo every time.

The documentary kicks off by diving into Henson’s early days creating puppet sketches for a Washington, DC area TV station. It covers his partnership with Jane Nebel, his future wife, who helped him birth the “muppets” – a mix of hand puppets and marionettes. As their opportunities grew, so did their team and their shows, from commercials to TV hits. You’ll see how Henson shaped The Muppet Show, conquered movies, and pushed boundaries with films like The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. Alongside his success, the film doesn’t shy away from the toll it took on his personal life, leading up to his passing and the lasting mark he made.

The documentary does a solid job showing Henson’s journey, especially his early days. I’ve always enjoyed the Muppets and respected Henson’s impact on filmmaking and puppetry, but I’m not a superfan. Seeing how the Muppets started and Henson’s early grit and work was eye-opening. I didn’t know he started on local TV and even did some late-night and Saturday Night Live work. As an 80s kid, Henson was already a household name, so seeing his beginnings was fascinating.

The film also digs into the personal struggles his non-stop work ethic brought. Colleagues talk about how he’d go 48 hours straight, juggling projects in New York and London, which strained his marriage and family life. His kids open up about how their parents wanted different things and how even when he was home, Henson was still in work mode. It’s not all rosy, but Henson’s support helped his kids follow him into filmmaking and storytelling.

This documentary strikes a good balance, celebrating Jim Henson’s genius while showing his flaws and the pressures he faced. It avoids going overboard on praise or digging for dirt, giving a real look at the man behind the Muppets. I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars for being interesting and giving me a deeper respect for Jim Henson’s legacy. You can catch it on Disney+, rated TV-PG. There’s nothing offensive, but it might not hook younger kids who may just find it boring.

Overall, “Jim Henson: Idea Man” is a laid-back but insightful watch that’ll appeal to both fans and newcomers alike.

Jake Dietz
Jake Dietz is a father, husband, Latter-day Saint, movie lover, and all around geek. He considers himself a member of many fandoms including The Cosmere by Brandon Sanderson, The Lord of the Rings, DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Star Trek, Star Wars, and many, many more. If it has a good story, Jake is interested in it.


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