The 1986 "Labyrinth"-- recently rereleased -- has a moderately campy appeal. It's amusing, for a short duration anyway, to watch its bevy of scuttling, lively Muppets, a chubby-cheeked Jennifer Connelly (she was 15) and David Bowie prancing around in over-revelatory spandex.
Unfortunately, this contemporary (at least, for the era) fairy tale, directed and co-written by Muppets creator Jim Henson, never sets a timely tone beyond the 1980s. It remains disappointingly tethered to yesteryear.
For starters, the pacing is draggy. (You can feel every one of its 113 minutes.) And its relatively low-tech qualities -- this was way before CGI movies became almost de rigueur -- seem clunky and antiquated rather than soulfully charming.
Connelly's precociously appealing as Sarah, the central character who finds herself in the goblin universe after she -- in a moment of indiscretion -- wishes her crying baby brother would be whisked off by the little folks. Resolving to rescue her wee one, she negotiates a labyrinthine maze, secret passageways and dark tunnels to find him in the castle of Jareth (Bowie), the malevolent ruler determined to transform his human capture into a goblin.
For all her spunky qualities, Connelly doesn't particularly forecast the talent she would demonstrate in later years in films such as "Pollock," "A Beautiful Mind" and "House of Sand and Fog." And as the king, Bowie makes a fascinating spectacle, especially in the aforementioned tights; he suggests Julie Christie's twin brother in a fright wig. But he's not as compelling as his theatrical swagger -- or Terry Jones's script -- would have us believe.
-- Desson Thomson (August 3, 2007)
Contains some scary story elements that might disturb the very young.