1. It offers an optimistic solution to the problem of annoying younger siblings. Have to sacrifice your social life to babysit your bratty baby brother? Don't despair! His permanent disappearance can be easily arranged.
2. It inspires hope. Jennifer Connelly's acting is abysmal in this film, but later she won an Academy Award! As young viewers watch her melodramatically stomp her feet and whine "It's not fair!" every few minutes, they can reflect on the power of perseverance in chasing one's dreams.
3. It teaches life lessons. The first one being, of course, that life isn't fair. The second being that if you want to shove something unpleasant into an individual's mouth, just pinch their nose shut so he cannot breathe (it really works!). The third lesson is that you should never kiss boys because the world will drop out from under your feet and pretty soon things could start smelling very, very bad. The fourth is that some animals can pull off their heads and appendages and interchange them and still be fine--although I haven't yet determined what kind of animals those are. My experiments will continue.
4. It offers great relationship advice. Labyrinth features a palpable will-they-or-won't-they sexual tension between the 15-year-old Sarah and the pushing-forty Goblin King. I have learned, in fact, that there is a whole section of the internet dedicated to erotic fan fiction between these two characters. It's good for tweens to learn to embrace just how sexy Stockholm Syndrome can be in case they're ever in a similar situation.
5. It will command and maintain your child's attention. What is the one thing every child remembers about this movie? How well David Bowie fills out a pair of jodhpurs. No CGI required! While "Dora the Explorer" and "Handy Manny" eventually become tiresome and boring, David Bowie's crotch will always enthrall. (Witness this truth in meme form here.)
Labyrinth. Dir. Jim Henson. Perf. David Bowie, Jennifer Connelly, Toby Froud. Lucasfilm, 1986.
Buy Labyrinth (Anniversary Edition) on DVD
(Watch the trailer on YouTube here)