Thursday, June 13, 2024

“JIM HENSON: IDEA MAN”

THE STORY“Jim Henson: Idea Man” takes us into the mind of this singular creative visionary, from his early years puppeteering on local television to the worldwide success of Sesame Street, The Muppet Show, and beyond. Academy Award-winning filmmaker Ron Howard captures Henson’s restless creativity, ambition, and artistic evolution in the style and spirit of his complex subject, an artist who revolutionized television, inspired generations, and created some of the world’s most beloved characters. Featuring new interviews with Henson’s closest collaborators and children, as well as never-before-seen materials from his personal archives—including home movies, photographs, sketches, and diaries— Howard brings us an entertaining and insightful look at a man whose boundless imagination changed the world.

THE CASTJennifer Connelly, Rita Moreno & Frank Oz

THE TEAM – Ron Howard (Director/Writer)

THE RUNNING TIME – 111 Minutes


The life of an artist is always a fascinating journey to track. These are individuals who already offer up an intriguing dichotomy to the public. The persona that advertises themselves to the masses is recognizable, and their creations, which have become revered throughout time, initially manifest that curiosity to explore their biography. What can often be presented later is a revealing landscape of hidden truths that only further emphasizes the complex individuals they truly were. For “Jim Henson: Idea Man,” the objective here aligns with this thesis. What it ultimately showcases is a loving tribute to an endearing personality that lacks a particular substance to make it more impactful.

As one would expect, the subject of exploration here is Jim Henson, the famous filmmaker and puppeteer whose lasting legacy has undoubtedly been the cast of characters that are The Muppets and Sesame Street. The film plots his earliest days of discovering creativity by assembling these bits of fabric into fully realized personalities that were heavily employed in television broadcasts. His interests soon grew more ambitious, and as the format’s reach became even more prominent, so did his desire for even greater projects on a larger scale. The subsequent movies and shows that sprouted from this passion were not all universally celebrated, but they maintained his fiercely devoted spirit for ingenuity. These aspects were retained all the way up until his untimely death in 1990 at the age of fifty-three. Tragedy might have taken him far before his prime, but what remains is a captivating arena that has continued to enchant multiple generations.

It is interesting how, from the very first frame, there is an intention to highlight not only Henson’s most well-known works but also those that may be more obscure items for the general public. The layout of interviews takes place in an arena composed of cubes, introduced by a figure that’s a character from one of his experimental pieces. Having the opportunity to get a glimpse of his more stylistic works, including his Oscar-nominated short film “Time Piece,” is a wonderful view into his vibrant imagination. Even when Henson lamented using his talents for the low art of commercials, there’s still a joy in discovering these old relics from the past that often present his sensibilities in a less-refined manner. The behind-the-scenes footage between himself and his many collaborators demonstrates the grand scope of his operations, and the anecdotes featured from those participants are both humorous and touching.

However, as captivating as many of these revelations can be, much of what is exhibited comes across as surface-level observations. While it makes complete sense for the film to have an overwhelmingly positive attitude towards its central figure, the commitment to a hagiographic portrait leaves this commentary devoid of anything to ground Henson’s personality. Every failure, no matter how personal or professional, is given barely a mention within the larger framework of his life. Undoubtedly, some conflicts arose, but these instances are only slightly broached, and director Ron Howard seems content to demonstrate only the positives that came from Henson’s work. While admirable, it sands down the engrossing facets of life as if every argument and setback were only a reflection of his tenacity to move forward. Such reverence ends up assembling a bland narrative that honors a man but also deifies him in such a banal presentation.

There is no doubt of the love and attention that went into “Jim Henson: Idea Man.” The testimonials from his family, friends, and collaborators are heartfelt memorials to a hugely talented creative. However, for all the alluring peeks behind the curtain, there still remains a distance from a more complex dissection. In its quest to demonstrate the importance of Henson’s work, any attempt to make his life and career anything more than the hugely popular properties he manifested falls flat. The result is a mildly compelling endeavor that is too timid to probe deeper for a more insightful analysis of this beloved figure.

THE RECAP

THE GOOD - Features some revealing footage of Henson's career, which is a joy to discover and highlights his massive talent. The anecdotes given are amusing, humorous, and touching.

THE BAD - The ultimate presentation is one that treats its subject with such reverence that any complexity is avoided. The narrative construction is banal and does not indulge in exploring the more captivating aspects of his life.

THE OSCAR PROSPECTS - Best Documentary Feature

THE FINAL SCORE - 6/10

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Josh Parham
Josh Parhamhttps://nextbestpicture.com
I love movies so much I evidently hate them. Wants to run a production company.

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<b>THE GOOD - </b>Features some revealing footage of Henson's career, which is a joy to discover and highlights his massive talent. The anecdotes given are amusing, humorous, and touching.<br><br> <b>THE BAD - </b>The ultimate presentation is one that treats its subject with such reverence that any complexity is avoided. The narrative construction is banal and does not indulge in exploring the more captivating aspects of his life.<br><br> <b>THE OSCAR PROSPECTS - </b><a href="/oscar-predictions-best-documentary-feature/">Best Documentary Feature</a><br><br> <b>THE FINAL SCORE - </b>6/10<br><br>"JIM HENSON: IDEA MAN"