Labyrinth ★★★

The latest part of a 36-hour David Bowie mourn-a-thon, which included reading old interviews and new remembrances, and jamming those titanic mid-70s albums of his.

I'm starting to think I had a sheltered childhood (or at least a culturally sheltered one) because Labyrinth, like so many other cultural artifacts my peers saw as kids, completely passed me by. So here I am, 27, and seeing this for the first time. My main takeaway is that this is a fabulous analog achievement, what with all the puppets and sets and effects and other Hensonesuqe technical wizardry. And it's pretty funny, too: it feels like a junior version of the goofy quest in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, right down to a weird one-sided fight involving someone guarding a bridge. Which I guess is no accident, because Terry Jones was involved.

And then there's Bowie, here a charmer and a bastard. His performance is captivating and his songs work because Bowie had the charisma to make pretty much anything work. Plus I feel like being a glam-rock fantasy king with a codpiece and a riding-crop scepter fit nicely in his wheelhouse.

The songs themselves are OK, but the score itself bottomless-80s-drums generic and the story could have used a trim here and there. Plus, Henson the director makes some strange choices here, especially early on in the "real world." But I had fun with it and the level of creativity and imagination on display. Plus, it's a great movie about the power of words. Part of growing up means realizing that what you say carries a very real weight.