Cast: Jennifer Connelly, David Bowie, Brian Henson, Toby Froud
Running Time: 1hr 41min
Sarah is fed up. She’s 15-years-old, and she has to babysit her stupid baby brother Toby while her parents are out having a great time. Well, Toby is not going to make this an easy experience for Sarah, and his constant crying and carrying on results in our heroine wishing “the goblins would come and take him away.” Well, one of the morals of this story is, be careful what you wish for, Sarah!
Toby is taken by the Goblin King Jareth, and Sarah must journey to Goblin City to reclaim him. However, it is not that straightforward. First of all, there is the small matter of a huge, sprawling labyrinth that she must negotiate alone. She must solve the labyrinth in 13 hours, or Toby will be turned into a goblin. While in the labyrinth she meets a small dwarfish creature named Hoggle, as well as Ludo, and Sir Didymus. They travel through the labyrinth and wind up at the Bog of Eternal Stench. After getting separated from the group and almost getting brainwashed, she is rescued by the group, and they fight their way to the castle.
After fighting off the guards, Sarah makes her way inside the castle, where she must face Jareth alone. After reciting lines from a play, she cannot remember the last line and is almost overwhelmed by Jareth. At the last moment, she remembers the line “You have no power over me!” With these words, Jareth is defeated and returns Toby and Sarah back home. As she puts Toby back to bed, all her friends from the labyrinth gather in her room for a celebration.
For many people out there, Labyrinth was their first foray into the fantasy genre, and, for this reason, it is looked on favorably. The movie is considered a classic, and quite rightly too – it’s also the first starring role for future Academy Award winner Jennifer Connelly. Following the footsteps of the ambitious and wonderfully gothic The Dark Crystal, Jim Henson and co returned with this offering. Yes, the movie looks dated, and many of the special effects are questionable, but, there is a charm and likeability about it.
Connelly excels in the lead, proving her future star status, but it is an absolutely bonker turn from David Bowie as Jareth, the Goblin King that steals the show. His performance just oozes pantomime villain, and he seems like has having a ball as he belts out “Dance, magic dance!” The music is a great addition to the film, and having Bowie on board certainly helped in that respect.
The movie is basically Alice in Wonderland, but significantly less kooky. The kaleidoscopic elements of the Labyrinth and the Goblin Palace are intriguing, and there is always that lingering doubt in the viewer’s mind as to whether this might all be going on in Sarah’s dream. But, the movie has a definite whimsical feel to it, and the quest format is tried and tested. This is a delightful, family-friendly romp, but, on a recent viewing, it’s not quite as good as you remember it being.