Who can resist a Jim Henson movie starring David Bowie? Apparently my sister can. But I was (and still am) mesmerized by the 1986 movie “Labyrinth.”
The plot revolves around Sarah William’s (played by young Jennifer Connelly) quest to reach the center of an enormous otherworldly maze to rescue her infant brother Toby, who has been kidnapped by Jareth, the Goblin King (played by aforementioned Mr. Bowie). It is rated PG.
Sarah Williams’ favorite motto is: “It’s not fair!” And you are required to pronounce the last word with two syllables. As a fifteen-year-old with an actress as a mother, a toddler brother and a strict stepmother, drama is inherent as she straddles the line between adolescence desperately wanting to be an adult. So when she is forced to babysit her brother (how unfa-ir!), Sarah wishes him away in classic, theatrical fashion. Cue the equally spectacular Goblin King.
Let’s just take a moment to appreciate his hair…and eyeshadow.
So Sarah tells said Goblin King that (wait for it…) it’s not fa-ir he absconded with Toby. So, the benevolent king of the Underground reorders time and gives her thirteen hours to solve the Labyrinth and save her brother.
Sarah’s cockiness and sass is reminiscent of someone I know, who will remain nameless. “Piece of cake!” Not so much. The Labyrinth is alive, flexing to the will of its master, and the king is not about to let his muse off the hook. He throws in goblins on cleaning machines, the Bog of Eternal Stench, and a magical peach.
The ballroom scene makes fanfiction stories explode with gobbledygook. That said, it is the pivotal point of the plot (all hail alliteration!). And what girl doesn’t dream of a masquerade? Okay, okay, so there are creepy masks, but it is all an elaborate attempt to steer Sarah away from the Labyrinth’s solution. Besides, the Goblin King’s ruffled shirt and Sarah’s gown and hair are magnificent!
Without fancy CGI, the writers and filmmakers develop Sarah’s character as she fights for her brother, from brooding teenager to eventual heroine. Ultimately, Sarah stops claiming that it is not fair, as she accepts the world she was forced into, as a consequence of her actions.
Personally, I recommend this movie to all ages. I cut my teeth on Jim Henson (The Muppet Show and The Dark Crystal), although it might prove scary to more sensitive children with the scene with a snake and the often brooding Goblin King. Both Thing 1 and Thing 2 adore this movie, from the plot to the puppets to the songs. But then again, we are raising nerdlings.