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The 10 Best Jim Henson Movies, Ranked!

This 'Muppets' mastermind was a true visionary.

Jim Henson was a true visionary in the world of puppetry and storytelling.

Born on September 24, 1936, in Greenville, Mississippi, Henson’s unique talent and creativity would eventually lead him to create some of the most beloved characters in film history.

Henson’s journey began with a five-minute puppet show series called Sam and Friends in the 1950s. This humble beginning paved the way for his most iconic creation to come, The Muppets.

Henson’s ability to breathe life into inanimate objects and captivate audiences of all ages was unparalleled. Throughout his career, Henson pushed the boundaries of what was possible with puppetry, combining it with live-action and exploring various genres. His work transcended the traditional notion of children’s entertainment, appealing to audiences of all ages with its wit, humor and heart.

Jim Henson’s Best Movies: Emmy Winner Puppeteer Jim Henson backstage at the Emmy Awards Show, September 17, 1989 in Los Angeles, California.
1989Bob Riha Jr / Contributor/Getty

His creations, such as Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy and the entire Muppet ensemble, have become cultural icons, inspiring generations of fans and influencing countless artists and storytellers. While The Muppets will forever be his most famous and enduring legacy, Henson’s filmography extends far beyond that beloved franchise.

Here, we look back at some of Jim Henson’s best movies showing both his versatility and boundless imagination. All the below movies can be streamed on Prime Video.

Did you know? Henson notes that when he was a kid, he never even saw a puppet show. Nor did he have an interest in puppets nor did he play with them. So, what prompted his world-famous career? He said, “I really did that whole thing in order to get on television because my enthusiasm was television and film.” We are glad he went down that path.

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10. Muppets From Space (1999): Jim Henson’s best movies

Released in 1999, Muppets From Space follows the adventures of Gonzo, a beloved Muppet character, as he discovers his true origins and embarks on a journey to find his long-lost family. Directed by Tim Hill and produced by Jim Henson Pictures, this film starred the iconic Muppet ensemble, including Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy and Fozzie Bear.

Did you know? When Jim Henson graduated from University of Maryland his major was… wait for it: Home Economics. He explains, that he was interested in theatre design, stage design and television design and “At that particular college, the advertising, art, costume design, interior design, layout — all of that stuff was part of Home Economics, for some strange reason. I think it’s changed since then. And puppetry was a course that was given there that was also in Home Economics.”

9. Muppet Treasure Island (1996)

Directed by Brian Henson, Jim Henson’s son, Muppet Treasure Island is an adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel Treasure Island. Released in 1996, the film follows the Muppet characters as they embark on a swashbuckling adventure in search of buried treasure. Starring Tim Curry as Long John Silver.

Muppet Treasure Island which includes the ensemble cast of Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, and Fozzie Bear, captured the spirit of the original novel while infusing it with the Muppets’ signature humor and charm.

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8. The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland (1999): Jim Henson’s best movies

In 1999, Jim Henson’s beloved creation, Elmo, took center stage in The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland.  Directed by Gary Halvorson and produced by Jim Henson Pictures, this film followed Elmo’s journey into the mysterious and chaotic world of Grouchland in search of his beloved blanket. Starring Kevin Clash as Elmo and featuring appearances from other beloved Sesame Street characters, The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland was a box office hit.

7. Muppets Take Manhattan (1984): Jim Henson’s best movies

Released in 1984, The Muppets Take Manhattan was a musical comedy that followed the Muppet ensemble as they embarked on a journey to make it big on Broadway. Directed by Frank Oz and produced by Jim Henson, the film starred the iconic Muppet characters, including Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, and Gonzo. With its catchy musical numbers, heartwarming storyline, and the Muppets’ signature humor, The Muppets Take Manhattan became an instant classic.

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6. Follow That Bird (1985)

In 1985, Jim Henson’s Sesame Street characters took center stage in the feature film Follow That Bird.  Directed by Ken Kwapis and produced by Jim Henson Productions, the film followed the adventures of Big Bird as he was separated from his beloved family on Sesame Street and embarked on a journey to find his way back home. 

Starring Caroll Spinney as Big Bird and featuring appearances from other beloved Sesame Street characters, Follow That Bird was a heartwarming and entertaining film that captured the spirit of the iconic children’s television series. 

Did you know? Henson said there’s a difference in the color yellow in the U.S. versus England. He said, “Yellow in England is one of the basic electron guns and so you get beautiful, clear, gorgeous yellows. In the US yellow is a combination of the green and red guns. Big Bird in England is much more gorgeous.”

5. The Muppet Movie (1979): Jim Henson’s best movies

This film follows Kermit the Frog and his friends as they embark on a cross-country journey to Hollywood. It’s a delightful mix of humor, heart, and catchy musical numbers.  The movie is directed by James Frawley. Jim Henson plays the voice of Kemit the Frog and Frank Oz plays Miss Piggy.  

Did you know? All five of Henson kids worked on the Muppets. He said, “Lisa and Cheryl, the oldest two, both have worked in the shop on the show, building puppets and doing costumes and that sort of thing. I would throw the younger kids into a group scene operating a background character.”

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4. The Great Muppet Caper (1981)

In this film musical mystery, Kermit, Fozzie Bear, and Gonzo play investigative reporters who find themselves embroiled in a jewel heist. It’s a fun and adventurous romp with the Muppets. Another one of Henson’s masterpieces.

3. The Dark Crystal (1982): : Jim Henson’s best movies

A departure from the Muppets, The Dark Crystal is a fantasy epic set in a mystical world populated by creatures called Gelflings and Skeksis. Henson’s puppetry skills are on full display in this visually-stunning film.

2. Labyrinth (1986)

Directed by Jim Henson and executive produced by George Lucas, Labyrinth stars David Bowie as Jareth, the Goblin King, who kidnaps a young girl’s baby brother. It’s a whimsical and fantastical adventure through a labyrinthine world filled with strange creatures and puzzles. The movie also stars Jennifer Connelly and Toby Froud.

1. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992): Jim Henson’s best movies

This adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic Christmas tale features the Muppets alongside actor Michael Caine, who plays Ebenezer Scrooge. It’s a heartwarming and hilarious retelling of the story, with Kermit taking on the role of Bob Cratchit.

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