Labyrinth showing this weekend at Davies Center

David Bowie steals the show in musical Muppet masterpiece

Labyrinth showing this weekend at Davies Center


Story by Glen Olson, Chief Copy Editor

Labyrinth, the 1986 mashup of the talents of Jim Henson and Terry Jones, encompasses a weirdly large number of genres and subgenres.

There’s kidnapping, mythical creatures, time-warping sci-fi, David Bowie, Muppets and aspects that are hardly even identifiable and could never be translated from the mind to the page.

IMDb rates the movie as 7.4 stars out of 10, and its silliness makes it a movie appropriate for all ages, but wouldn’t bore any of them.

Mainly what a first-time watcher should expect is David Bowie making one of his best film performances as a very musical Jereth, King of Goblins. Jereth kidnaps a baby, and the baby’s sister tries to bring him back and has a bunch of wacky adventures along the way.

Not to dismiss the performance of Jennifer Connelly as Sarah, the fifteen-year-old protagonist, but I was not quick to identify with someone who gives their toddler brother to goblins (even unwittingly) because he is crying too much and then spends an entire movie whining about getting him back.

So, in my mind, this was a David Bowie film experience through and through.

There was his hair, his soundtrack and his odd but glaringly apparent fascination with codpieces factored into the movie.

The codpiece bit might be uncharitable. Obviously, a grown man would be self-conscious about running around in tights for an entire movie when he’s supposed to be an intimidating goblin king.

So, that’s all well and good. David Bowie stole the show. The story is entertaining, and despite the juxtaposition of ’80s hair, clothes and music with a landscape that looks like something out of a drawing by M.C. Escher, it came off well.

The major downside for me was that, as a movie directed and partially written by Jim Henson, it’s Muppet heavy.

Maybe even too Muppet heavy.

While historically we can look back and see that it was toward the end of the Muppet heyday, which has seen an unfortunate revival, when it was released it didn’t do well and was a commercial disappointment.

I lay all the blame on the Muppets, which are a terrifying representation of an idea that must have started as a fever dream, unless Jim Henson was scarred for life by being shown an old, English Punch and Judy Show, which feature equally grotesque puppets beating each other.

But once you get past that and settle down a bit from the original flare up of disgust at the sight of Muppets, Labyrinth is a slapstick movie full of great music. I’d go higher than IMDb and give it a solid A … despite the Muppets.

Labrynth will play this weekend at the Woodland Theater in Davies Center.  Showtimes are 7 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday.