Welcome to “Gaining XP,” a segment in which one of our 6NC writers attempt to build up their nerd cred by trying things they might have missed out on as kids. This time around, Adri watched Labyrinth, a tale of a young girl’s journey through a mad king’s maze to save her brother… with creepy-ass puppets!
Okay, so, I’m not sure about all of you, but I didn’t watch a lot of fantasy films growing up. I legitimately was terrified of a lot of ’80s fantasy: Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, Return to Oz, etc. If there was creepy puppeteering going on, I was NOT about it. So, I missed a lot (even not so terrifying films like The NeverEnding Story), but I’ve tried remedying this in recent years.
Yes, I watched The NeverEnding Story, begrudgingly. The only thing that stuck with me is the theme song, and how sad I was about that damn horse.
So, when I was questioned constantly by the other 6NerdyChicks about of my lack of Labyrinth experience, I knew it was finally the time to watch.
My prior knowledge on this film is that it starred David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly’s eyebrows, oh, and there was a maze.
So, going into it, I didn’t know that Jennifer Connelly’s character is a whiney teenager, still playing make believe in the park by herself, holding on to her childhood with stuffed animals and toys, and oh, she hates her stepbrother. This stepbrother isn’t even a bratty delinquent– he’s barely a toddler who is left in the frustrated hands of his overdramatic teen sister. Seriously, her biggest issue at the start of the film is that she isn’t getting more attention than a toddler.
So, what does miss teenage drama queen do? She wishes her brother away by calling upon the Goblin King (I think he was referenced in a monologue she was practicing at the beginning;I don’t remember). So begins the creepy puppetry.
And before I move on, I had also forgotten that this is supposed to be a Jim Henson film. So, are they actually supposed to be Muppets? Someone tell me!!
Alright, next we meet the Goblin King (Jareth?) played by the late legend, David Bowie.
Sarah suddenly starts to care for her little brother when Jareth/Goblin King takes him away (like she F*cking asked!). So, he challenges her to complete his labyrinth in 13 hours or he will turn her little brother into a goblin. (Also, why is Jareth king of the Goblins, when he looks nothing like them? What backward-ass dictatorship is this?!)
If there was someone who could compete with Miss Eyebrow’s dramatics, it is Mr. Bowie and his prominent crotch.
I was constantly distracted thinking about all the little people who had to act alongside his bulging bulge.
So, I’m gathering that our heroes journey is that Sarah needs to grow-the-f*ck-up, and care about her little brother. We see that in a scene where the Goblin King tricks Sarah into eating a hallucinogenic peach. While she’s trippin’ balls, the Goblin King attempts to seduce her into forgetting her brother. She fights it, and ends up in a junkyard where she finds her bedroom filled with her childhood toys and stuffed animals. It’s as if she must let go of childish things in order to break away from her acid-trip.
Eventually, Sarah finds her brother, but she has to battle Jareth on her own. Her Muppet friends tell her they will come if she needs them, but she is able to do it alone. Sarah recalls her monologue from the beginning where she tells him to f*ck off, or something, and she and her little brother are returned to their home. Sarah gives her treasured stuffed bear to her little brother and it looks like she is ready to let go of her immature attitude.
I didn’t love it.
I love Jennifer Connelly (or mostly, I love her eyebrows), but I think I’m too far removed from my teenage years to empathize with her. Similar to The NeverEnding Story, Labyrinth, attempts to make our main character’s clinginess for childhood fantasy an endearing quality. Which, in the end, shorts them any growth as a person. Like, “Hold on to your imaginative youth or you’ll turn into a grown up, kids!!!”
Listen, I’m a grown up and I have a lot of fun. I’m still creative, and now I can do something about it. Yes, my youthful naivety was replaced by cynicism and wine, but I get to enjoy a lot more in life because I’m an adult. Sarah’s fanciful adventure should have completed in an introspection on who she will become now, but instead, we get a Muppet dance party.
The film’s parabolic journey to adulthood mirrors real-life where we are forced into the unfamiliar maze of the world. We need to decide which way to go with no real information to assist us. Sometimes, there’s a Goblin King that’ll thwart our progress (by trying to get us high). Sarah’s route to adulthood, much like our own, ends up being a convoluted trek through a magical world where normal logic doesn’t apply and nothing is what it seems. But don’t worry because there will be puppets!