‘Jim Henson: Idea Man’ review: Ron Howard’s Disney+ doc celebrates the Muppets mastermind and his complicated life

Courtesy Disney+

Young Jim Henson with Kermit the Frog in the movie “Jim Henson: The Idea Man.”


“Jim Henson: Idea Man” threads a difficult needle, celebrating creative genius Dolls The mastermind without bypassing or whitewashing the thorny aspects of his personal life, as narrated by his adult children. The result is a particularly rich Disney+ documentary that captures the man as well as the insights that will ensure him some kind of immortality.

Described as introverted and quiet, Henson is an unlikely showman who would give the world Kermit the Frog, and stumbles into a family-friendly production role with… “Sesame Street” He tried, with some frustration, to expand beyond that with films like “The Dark Crystal” and… “A maze,” Which became more appreciated in later years than when they were released.

“He was a very rare creature,” Frank Oz, who Henson recruited out of high school to work with, says of Henson, while he and others share amusing anecdotes, such as how Henson fashioned Kermit out of his mother’s coat and a walkie-talkie. Cut a pong ball in half to make eyes.

However, “Idea Man” director Ron Howard and the Henson children who followed him into the entertainment industry, Brian and Lisa, were not shy about his more complex personal side, including the fact that he was away most of the time — he was so “so,” Lisa Henson recalls. Her life was incredibly busy, and she often fought with her mother, Jane.

Brian Henson talks about arguments at the dinner table, and his father’s struggle with the pressures of success, which erupted when he fled to England to produce “The Muppets Show” after American networks backed out of the pitch, while he was still keen to explore creatively in… Experimental films he made at the beginning of his career.

Henson was negotiating to sell his company to Disney, partly to return to making films and get away from being distracted by business concerns, when he died of toxic shock syndrome in 1990 at the age of 53. A clip of ABC News anchor Peter Jennings summarizes where Henson was Come to occupy in Culture, describing the news as “like a death in the family.”

Those close to Henson talk about his restlessness in the documentary, which may explain why and how he accomplished so much in a relatively short period, brilliantly underscored by clips ranging from his early works to his 1980s directorial efforts to Orson Welles interviewing him. And geese.

Kermit may have sung that it’s not easy being green, but when watching “Jim Henson: Idea Man,” it’s much easier to appreciate the mind that gave us the Muppets and more, while acknowledging the human foibles of the hand behind them.

“Jim Henson: Idea Man” will premiere May 31 on Disney+.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *