Thursday, September 17, 2009

Labyrinth (1986)

You get two entries today, lucky readers. If only because I figured if I did a "real" classic movie, I could allow a little self-indulgence and make an entry on the 80's cheesetastic fantasy film Labyrinth, which was a childhood favorite of mine.

It stars future-Academy Award winning actress Jennifer Connelly as Sarah, an angsty teen girl (who favors the phrase "That's not fair!") that spends more time indulging in fantasy than in dealing with the reality of the stepmother she hates and her half-brother Toby who she frequently has to babysit. One night, after a particularly angsty episode, she kind of loses it and asks the Goblin King, Jareth (the always awesome David Bowie), to take her baby brother away. Which he does, taking him to his kingdom in the middle of the labyrinth (a really big maze, for the uninitiated) , and Sarah must rescue her brother before it is too late, otherwise he will be turned into a goblin.

The technical aspects of the film actually hold up quite well (despite one scene involving creatures who dance and sing and are capable of removing their body parts, it's greenscreened to hell), the various creatures that Sarah encounters are all Jim Henson puppets, which works a lot better than attempted CGI that would have dated the film terribly. Instead it actually works and you buy them as actual characters, plus it helps that the actress is actually interacting with something that has a physical presence.

The rest of the film is pure cheese, though. I mean, how else can you describe a movie where David Bowie prances around in leotards (really, his bulge should have a supporting credit for the amount of time it spends on screen), with 80's hair that is mightier than Bono's old mullet, and singing corny songs about slapping babies?

One thing that the film does have is David Bowie, who revels in playing a very creepy, oddly sexual villain. He's in love with a 15 year old girl, and he makes it sick and twisted. It's an odd character that one wouldn't necessarily expect in a Family-Friendly movie, and Bowie seems to have a blast in the role that allows him to be funny, menacing, and outrageous, so much so that his performance borders on drag.

It's really hard to say "Watch this movie" or even say it's a good movie, because it is loaded with nostalgia, and it doesn't hurt that I enjoy some good cheese every now and then (See my entry on Adventures in Babysitting or Troll 2). But if you remember seeing this movie as a little kid, I highly suggest you revisit it, because it really does hold up.

And if you enjoy your movies chock full of 80's gooeyness, or you just love David Bowie, I would also give this movie a watch, because it's just so odd.

And for everyone else, well, it's really up to you.

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