YMMV / Labyrinth

The Movie

  • Alternate Aesop Interpretation: The moral of the story is obviously about letting go of one's childhood. Not to mention that Life Isn't Fair and complaining won't help your situation. However, fans seem to think there's something else there. Most fans seem to think it's about the one-sided love story around Jareth and Sarah. A lot of people have created fan works dedicated to this "romantic" movie. When you watch it, what really comes to mind? Do you view this as a man trying to make the girl he loves happy, but is constantly rejected? Or do you view this as a young girl trying to fix a mistake she made and growing up during her journey?
    • As an extension of the growing-up Sarah does over the course of the film, part of what she has to realize is that sometimes, it's just not fair. The situation you're in puts you at a disadvantage, and although you may not be able to change your situation, you are able to choose how you handle it. To declare "You have no power over me" is directly rejecting Jareth's manipulations and tyranny, and sets the tone for Sarah's independence from her parents.
    • It can also be interpreted as a direct subversion of the typical coming-of-age moral, because Sarah admits at the end that she still does need her imaginary friends by her side. Growing up doesn't mean rejecting everything you loved as a child just because you were a child when you came to love it, growing up means learning to love those things as an adult.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Sarah's father and stepmother. The movie wants us to think that Sarah's just being a brat in need of some growing up, but her stepmother doesn't seem to think much of her to begin with (implying she takes Sarah for granted because she's a loner, and tattling to Dad when Sarah objects to it), and her father seems either oblivious or apathetic to the obvious difficulties Sarah's having. Return to Labyrinth seems to go with this in the case of the stepmother, given that the now-teenaged Toby is having his own problems with her.
  • Angst? What Angst?: Sarah deals with The Reveal that goblins are real, her brother's been kidnapped by them, and that David Bowie is in her house with remarkable aplomb, and almost immediately after all this seems to view her necessity for solving the labyrinth as a mildly annoying household chore she can't get out of. Either this is a brilliant statement on it all being her imagination as she sits around the house bored or Jennifer Connelly thought her character should handle it as an Unusually Uninteresting Sight.
    • Alternatively, Sarah is Genre Savvy and knows the story she's got herself into, so she figures she just has to play it out and there's no time for dilly-dallying.
  • Best Known for the Fanservice: In this case, "Best Known For David Bowie's Pants". They probably exaggerate a little, but this is the reason most anyone remembers this movie if they aren't part of the fanbase. Either that or Jennifer Connelly looking very nice in that white princess dress she wears at the beginning. Or the Pimped-Out Dress from the ball scene later.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: The Fireys' scene (though there was a very small reference to it beforehand, it was still unimportant to the plot). note 
    • According to the "Making Of" documentary, the scene basically came about because Brian Froud, the guy who designed all the goblins, doodled the Fireys in his sketch book, took a liking to them, and then wanted to see what they could get away with doing using Blue Screen technology.
  • Cult Classic: The film grossed $12.7 million on a $25 million budget and was savaged by critics, but has since gained this status. Also it has something to do with David Bowie.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Jareth stole a baby, tried to bribe its older sister into forgetting about it, and tried to stop her numerous times when she went into the Labyrinth to rescue it, but you'll be hard pressed to find any fangirl who acknowledges that (or, for that matter, anyone who doesn't treat the Foe Yay subtext as canonical). He's a Draco in Leather Pants in the movie, too; VERY tight leather pants!
  • Ear Worm: Dance magic, dance, dance magic, dance! Put that baby spell on me!
  • Evil Is Cool: The bad guy is David Bowie and he has an army of Adorable Evil Minions, what's not to love there??
  • Evil Is Sexy: The words 'David Bowie' have already appeared many times on this page, so let us just add this: David Bowie. (David Bowie.)
  • Fanfic Fuel: How did a handsome Reality Warper like Jareth, who looks for all intents and purposes human, wind up ruling a land of Adorable Evil Minions who steal babies to turn them into more of their kind? The All There in the Manual material has no answer, and even the Expanded Universe is concerned with this question. Alternatively, the video for the opening song suggests that he kinda fell into the job.
  • Fanon: Now has its own page.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Jareth/Sarah. Not that there is really any competition anyway but the devotion to the ship is really something else.
  • Foe Yay: There's some Jareth/Sarah subtext in the movie. By the end, there's not much subtext about it, at least on Jareth's part. Stalker with a Crush indeed:
    "Fear me, love me, do as I say, and I will be your slave."
    • In earlier versions, Jareth outright tried to kiss her at the ball. This was most likely written out when they cast an actual 15 year old as Sarah.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Jim Henson was devastated by the movie's lack of success at the box office, because the project was so emotionally close with him. The fact that he never lived to see it become the beloved cult classic it is now only seems to rub salt in the wound.
    • His son did inform him, towards the end of his life, that this and The Dark Crystal were gaining appreciation in cult status.
    • Jareth apparently having the hots for 16-year-old Sarah, since, shortly after Bowie's death, accusations of him being a pedophile for sleeping with underaged groupies resurfaced.
      • Although this is not so much of an awkward and unfortunate problem in the Bowie's native UK, where the age of consent is 16.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Sarah mistakenly calls Hoggle "Hogwart".
    • Also, the line "The excitement of David Bowie" from the trailer takes a whole new meaning now that his crotch has gone memetic.
    • George Lucas and the Jim Henson company collaborating on a film, considering fifteen years later Far Scape would basically be "The Jim Henson Company does the Star Wars Cantina scene every week", and that it would be evicted from its Australian studios so Attack of the Clones could be filmed.
  • I Am Not Shazam: Jareth's kingdom is not "The Underground", that's just a song. Except for a big part of the fandom.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Every mention of Labyrinth will almost invariably make mention of "The Area". Including singing adapted lyrics to "Magic Dance" (Pants magic pants! You remind me of the bulge...).
    • Here's one that predates the Internet: Go into any group of nerds and say;
    Jareth: You remind me of the babe.
    Chorus: What babe?
    Jareth: The babe with the power.
    Chorus: What power?
    Jareth: The power of Voodoo.
    Chorus: Who do?
    Jareth: You do.
    Chorus: Do what?
    Jareth: Remind me of the babe!
  • Narm: Those who aren't turned on by Bowie's costume choices is laughing at it instead. Or probably both.
    • Sarah's overt, dramatic and sincere wishing for the Goblin King to whisk her baby brother away is such a weirdly specific thing to ask for that she almost has no business being shocked when it works.
    • Jareth's line, "Nothing, tra la la?" is either this or intentionally funny.
    • Sarah's line "Come on, feet" when she sets off for the labyrinth. Who says that?
  • Nightmare Fuel: While The Dark Crystal has disturbingly realistic violence and alien creatures, Labyrinth goes into Surreal Horror Uncanny Valley with surreal David Bowie faces, Body Horror Fireys, the eerie ballroom scene with the grotesque masks, and almost everything being alive. Even half of the soundtrack sounds like something out of a horror movie.
  • No Yay: A 15-year-old being romantically pursued (implied by the line "Just let me rule you...") and watched over by a stretchy pants-wearing goblin king (David Bowie at 39) makes some folks squeamish. There may be some disturbing Reality Subtext here, considering the reports that Bowie had an affair with a teenager, although these reports have thankfully been cast into doubt.
  • The Scrappy: Whether it's their random dance number, their awful Blue Screen, or just how creepy they are, no one seems to like the Fireys.
  • Signature Scene:
    • The "Magic Dance" musical number.
    • The "As The World Falls Down" sequence, particularly Sarah's fancy ballgown.
    • The climax in the Escher room.
  • Special Effects Failure
    • The scene with the "Fireys"note  — ya know, those fuzzy pink things that routinely decapitated and amputated themselves and others for fun — is notorious for having unusually bad Blue Screen special effects, even for its time. This is weird considering how good the special effects were in the rest of the movie. Now wispy fuzzy semi-translucent fringes are about the most difficult possible item to chroma-key, but it hasn't been remedied at all in "remastered" DVD releases. (That said, though they were far from the awesome advances we have now, it's pretty good for a bunch of puppeteers in black velvet suits.)
    • The child switches from a real baby to a doll a few times in "Magic Dance". note 
    • The owl at the beginning may have been a step forward for CGI back then. But it looks terribly laughable nowadays.
  • So Bad, It's Good: Not the movie itself, which is a cult classic on its own. But Jennifer Connelly's acting requires either very thick nostalgia goggles or an appreciation for the camp value of her breathless, melodramatic performance.
  • Ugly Cute:
    • Awwww, how can you hate the lovable little goblins?
    • Ludo is especially adorable.
    • The Worm looks like a miniature Jabba the Hutt, but he's so nice and endearing that it's hard not to like him.
  • Vanilla Protagonist: Like a classic fairy tale, this story is less about Sarah and more about the supernatural world she travels through and the supernatural creatures she meets.
  • Vindicated by Cable: The movie was a huge flop in 1986, a time when family-oriented films generally struggled to find audiences, despite several extremely positive reviews. Once it hit VHS and cable, its fandom grew to the point that it's one of rights-holder Sony's most popular films on DVD.
  • "Weird Al" Effect: The "You remind me of the babe" exchange has long since overshadowed the original "You remind me of the man" exchange from The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer.
  • WTH, Costuming Department?: What is with all Jareth's costumes? Pragmatism. He's played by David Bowie. Bear in mind that before The Lord of the Rings shattered the Fantasy Movie Ghetto Age, directors and writers of fantasy movies were desperate for any Periphery Demographic they could find. Squeeing Fangirls were willing to pay to see David Bowie in tights. Also, it sort of went with David Bowie's style. If you're going to cast David Bowie, may as well use him in a way you know works.
    • Funnily enough, Jareth's outfits were tamer than Bowie's usual stage attire.