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Jim Henson's 1986 fantasy film starring David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly.

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Tight Pants, Magic Dances, and the Bog of Eternal Stench. Oh, and a Labyrinth.

  • Jul 27, 2008
  • by
Pros: So old, it's just good fun to watch.

Cons: So old, you'll probably be laughing and saying, "Oh man, it's so old."

The Bottom Line: Ok, it is old, but it is also a lot of fun. Even now, my first viewing at age 24, like a total dork, I love it.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.

Years ago in high school, a kid in my art class did a great imitation of a character from Labyrinth, Luto. At the time, I had no idea what he was doing, funny as it was. Since then I’d caught a glimpse of Labyrinth twice, but it wasn’t until recently that I finally, finally saw the movie from start to finish.

*giggle* Ah fun times.

Sarah is a bit spoiled, who resents the way her stepmother makes her watch her half-brother, Toby, while her parents go out and enjoy themselves. She makes a wish that the Goblin King would come and take Toby away. Mm. Wish granted. Sure enough, Jareth the Goblin King shows up in her room, and though Sarah is remorseful, Jareth won’t budge. Unless… Yep, if Sarah can navigate her way through his Labyrinth and make it to his castle, she can have Toby back. If not, Toby stays in the Underground forever and becomes a goblin. Maybe if Sarah just stayed with Jareth and allowed her dreams to come true instead...

The one thing people talk about most with this movie is David Bowie playing the part of Jareth and his Tight Spandex Pants. I mean, honestly, it’s hard not to. 1986 David Bowie + tight stretchy pants. Whew! Aside from that bit of distraction (and trust me, it is), he’s actually a very good Jareth. He does sing (why wouldn’t they have him sing?) but it manages to make its way into the movie rather well. Though I still don’t understand the point of the “Magic Dance” song (I guess he’s trying to entertain Toby), I get sucked into the fun 80’s style boogie, from the electronic/synth sounds to Bowie himself.

Sarah is played by the talented Jennifer Connelly (Dark Water, Blood Diamond). She makes a great Sarah, starting off whiny and spoiled before learning a few lessons about friendship and selflessness. While she is young here, she looks extremely pretty in the ballroom gown she wears for a brief, dream-like time, a testament to her future fairness. And despite the whole young Sarah + older Jareth thing, there are plenty of girls out there who overlook that whole bit of reality and fall into the sheer delightfulness of the idea of getting carried off by a Goblin King (though that sort of relationship did sound a bit like an unhealthy co-dependent one, but shh, we’ll pretend that’s not what it is).

As for the story itself, people who enjoyed The Dark Crystal are often recommended this one as well, mostly because it’s fun fantasy and a creation of the magic that is Jim Henson. While I wasn’t one for The Dark Crystal, I did like this movie. From the dialogue to the scenery to the crazy music and Jareth’s costumes (spandex pants notwithstanding). I’m a fantasy buff and a sucker for stories like these. I can’t help myself, really (just look at my love for Mirrormask). I’m the girl that would love nothing more than to get chucked into a place like the Labyrinth, even with dangerous creatures and things like a Bog of Eternal Stench. And as weird as the Jim Henson creations are (admittedly, I could do without the Fierys and the whole “Chilly Down” acid-induced song sequence), it’s hard not to admire them for their uniqueness, as well as the skill involved to create them and then puppeteer them.

You will have to keep in mind that, even to my surprise, there are a few moments of swearing (a damn here and there), as well as some indirect shots of goblin, er, wankers. More or less something that, as an adult, you'd do a double take on, and then at the second look, it'd be gone. Kids aren't likely to notice anything, but you never know these days. Either way, I thought, "Well that's random" and got over it. Just figured I'd offer fair warning.

It’s fun to watch this for different reasons. The main story. The Sarah & Jareth subplot. The Jim Henson goodies. The scenery. The random odd things that pop up—that’s right. Look closely in a few places and you’ll see Jareth faces imposed upon rocks and such in the Labyrinth. You never know what you’ll see next in that place.

To watch this, you’ll have to be ready for 1986 effects, Jim Henson creations, mid-movie songs, and overall weirdness. But if you like a good fairy tale and remember the fun of puppets, then by all means, look this movie up next time you’re stumped on what to rent. I promise you’ll at least have a good laugh.


Like the movie? Try the soundtrack!


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More Labyrinth reviews
Quick Tip by . June 02, 2010
Pretty good movie. One of the best 80's movies. Love the stairs scene.
review by . February 18, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
An iconic and favourite movie for every child who grew up in the 80's, LABYRINTH now enchants a whole new generation of fans on DVD. Feeling ignored and unappreciated by her stepmother, Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) rashly wishes her new baby brother Toby into the clutches of Jareth, the Goblin King (David Bowie). Realising her folly, Sarah must enter the magical twist-turning Labyrinth and continue through to the Goblin City if she has any hope of rescuing Toby. But Sarah won't be alone, as she is …
review by . January 05, 2001
posted in Movie Hype
I love the work of Jim Henson. I enjoy watching the movies and television programs he produced and directed because he was a great film maker and puppeteer. Many of his creations are loveable and some are stunning. However, the main reason I love the work of Jim Henson is because he was a great storyteller who he knew how to tell fairy tales right.Most people today get their idea of fairy tales from the watered down Disney variety. As much as I enjoy Disney films, it is sad that the true stories …
About the reviewer
Nicole ()
Ranked #72
Age: 27 Currently: Freelancing my butt off and querying my other novel, Blood for Wolves. Who likes seriously factured fairy tales? =D      Like books? Then take it from a real, live … more
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Jim Henson leaves the Muppets at home and takes an adventure with David Bowie in this now cult classic from 1986. Henson partners with George Lucas and David Bowie take you into a dazzling world of fantasy and intrigue where everything seems possible and nothing is what it seems.

The plot revolves around Sarah's quest to rescue her little brother from the Goblin King while trapped in a world that is an enormous otherworldly maze. In real life she has to baby-sit her brother and contend with parents who don't understand her at all.
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