Parents' Guide to

Labyrinth

By Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Surreal coming-of-age fantasy -- with Jim Henson puppets.

Movie PG 1986 101 minutes
Labyrinth Movie Poster: David Bowie holds a glass orb

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 7+

Based on 23 parent reviews

age 5+

There's a huge fandom for a reason...

...and that is BECAUSE of the open endedness in the ending, especially with regards to where Sarah and Jareth's relationship stands. Despite the little screen time they had together, the chemistry between them was undeniable. Other than that, I really love the line "You have no power over me." Great comeback for anyone who's ever had to put up with bullying/harassment. I loved the transformation that both Sarah and Hoggle went through. And finally, Jareth is just fantastic and so charismatic. Even if you don't become infatuated with him, he's definitely got your attention. ;) I love the songs and the soundtrack, and though there is some frightening imagery, it was really interesting to see all the hard work behind the scenes. The ballroom scene is purposely made to be a bit creepy but it is still visually beautiful. I saw somewhere that this movie is an acquired taste, and I would wholeheartedly agree. Both my mom and sister agree that it's kind of boring, and even I have to agree that it drags in certain parts. Still, I love the movie, and I love much of what the fandom has created!
age 9+

A little crude and the message takes time to sort out (I still have unanswered questions about the songs), but you're likely to find it a tame family favorite. The main character is decent, but could be better.

Before I get to the content, the most complicated/need-to-talk-about-thing about this movie is the message. I wish the DVD had subtitles for the songs but it doesn't, so I'm not sure why they sing about slapping the baby with the power of voodoo--you're on your own there. It's supposed to be a coming of age movie as mentioned. There's a lot of symbolism to unravel and some people are confused. Let me sort it out: Jareth represents Sarah's obsession with make-believe. She believes she's in Cinderella's shoes just because she's expected to be responsible. Her room is decorated with things that represent her immaturity and her love of drama (she's preparing for a play). When her fantasy comes true (Jareth taking away her responsibility and replacing it with more daydreaming opportunities) she suddenly realizes she's made a mistake. Along the way she discovers that fantasy isn't princess-friendly: fairies bite, things are unfair, infatuation can hold you back, characters mislead, you can be in serious danger, and not everyone is clearly good or bad. Not to spoil the storyline, but I will say these next few sentences to make a point and explain the controversy: part way through the story she sees her room and decides it's all junk, including the part where a little figurine of her is dressed up for the ball--that's a big moment for her. The coming of age traps she falls into and gets out of are a lot like the made-for-TV movie Snow Queen for reference. Her love for her step-brother conquers all the ridiculous trappings of living in a fantasy world. When Jareth says he wants to rule over her and yet at the same time be her slave, and that she's defying him and yet he can't live up to her expectations, only makes sense if he represents her fantasies. Realizing he has no power over her and then going home to put all of her fantasies in storage ties this all together. Perhaps it could be a bully she's standing up to, but really it's herself that she's standing up to. She grows from a everyone is against me rude teenager to one willing to sacrifice and forgive. It's an awesome sleepover movie for teens to subtly encourage maturity. However she does admit that time to time she needs fantasy a little. The main concerns I have with this movie is that it can be crude: you can see a character peeing, a statue of characters doing the same, and the Bog of Eternal stench is clearly supposed to derive it's power from flatulating (very graphic looking by the way in sounds and looking like a body part) mud pots--that scene is supposed to be one big gas joke. The violence is tame most of the time; puppets move way too slowly with their weapons and during the final battle (more like a silly struggle than a battle). Some scenes might feel perilous, but only to young children, certainly not preteens. With the exception of a circular machete chasing them through a tunnel, a couple jump scares near the beginning of the movie when she calls the Goblin King to take her step-brother away, and a worm in a fruit appearing after she eats it, anytime things seem to be quite scary, there's a funny/fake element that makes it not so bad. Be aware that the main bad guy wears tight/revealing clothes and has many changes of them in the course of a day--some people may find it distracting. The king also throws the baby up really high and putting the baby in places where he could fall, and I don't know how I feel about him saying that the baby has his eyes (it might make you think he fathered him). Also concerning: struggles that a character has with lying, and a few uses of the D word, H word, C word (worse version of crud), and a religious profanity could be concerns (mostly the D word is used). Sarah is pretty gullible and naive, but she does show kindness--with some exceptions, she's patient with a lot of characters and doesn't judge them unless she has to. It is concerning though that she steals another character's stuff and he can only get it back if he risks his life for her; not much of the friend she claims she is to him--that's why I can't click on great role models. However I would have loved to have seen her struggle with her feelings for Jareth a bit more (since we are told they had fallen in love) and come to more realizations along the way, instead of immediately deciding he was bad--that would have made for a more interesting storyline.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (23 ):
Kids say (59 ):

If this movie sounds like a funky version of Alice in Wonderland, it is -- and that's where its fun lies. Labyrinth is bursting with imagination and playful weirdness in a way that's both delightful and a little too far-out. It showcases the artistry of Jim Henson and features some of his most complex puppets. He also turns a simple collection of human hands into a lively and expressive wall of faces that Sarah has to stumble across. This is puppetry at its finest, and the filmmakers ensure that none of the monsters are too monstrous, but still always impressive. One massive, sword-wielding creature turns out to be just a robot with a silly little goblin perched in its cockpit helmet. Unfortunately, the plot isn't quite on par with the visuals. It meanders as much as Sarah does, leading up to a final face-off with the Goblin King that's a confused fizzle. Through it all, the uncomfortable obsession of an adult villain with a teen girl -- and his manipulations of her -- may mar your enjoyment of an otherwise entertaining fantasy film.

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