Aladdin (VHS, 2004, Special Edition - Spanish Language Edition)

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What Would You Wish For? ALADDIN

Nov 28, 2009 (Updated Nov 28, 2009)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Animation, script, humor, music (Oscar Winning) pathos, lessons, acting...everything.

Cons:One of my favorites; I'll hear nothing bad against it.

The Bottom Line: Magical on more than one level, Disney breaks the ethnic mold on this one.  A classic.


Aladdin (1992) Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker

Sultan: Jafar, you vile betrayer!
Iago: That's Sultan Vile Betrayer to you!

Following the hits The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, Disney needed a strong showing to prove they had revived the full length animated feature film.  Aladdin was their ticket.

And Aladdin had the ticket; more tickets than any other movie in 1992.  It was official, like Rumplestilskin, Disney was spinning celluloid into gold.

The story follows Aladdin (Voice Scott Weinger), a poor street rat living in the alleys of Agrabah (Generic Arabic City of 1001 Nights) with his monkey Abu.  Aladdin dreams of something more; of freedom from want, of a place in the world, and to not be all alone.

It is also the story of the Princess Jasmine (Linda Larkin).  As the only child of the Sultan (Douglas Seale), the throne of Agrabah will pass to the man she marries.  As such, he must be a prince, groomed from birth to lead.  The problem here is that the princess is a modern girl; headstrong, willful, independent and a free thinker, she would have undoubtedly been beaten into proper submissiveness except her father doted on her.  Now, she thinks she should actually have a say in her fate.

The person really deciding her fate is the Vizier Jafar (Jonathan Freeman).  Power mad and manipulative, he and his parrot Iago (Gilbert Gottfried) like the status quo where the silly ineffectual Sultan leaves the real business of governing to his trusted advisor.  That trusted advisor however is only using Agrabah to fulfill his real ambitions to obtain a powerful magical artifact.

Jasmine is tired of being wooed by an endless series of men who could not careless about her as person, and only of the wealth and station.  She runs away, and runs afoul of reality in the markets of Agrabah where she is rescued by Aladdin.

Aladdin is the first person to show her, Jasmine, any kindness for the sake of Jasmine, and not for the Princess.  I think it is understandable she would be attracted to him under those circumstances; his looks, a swarthy combination of Michael J. Fox and Tom Cruise certainly helped.

But Aladdin has a destiny, and Jafar intends to see him fulfill it.  He is the only living person who can enter the Cave of Wonders and retrieve the Lamp of the Genie.  And Jafar, in disguise, arranges for him to do so.  A few twists of Treachery and of Fate later, and Aladdin is the possessor of the Lamp, and the Genie that lives within.

Disney banked a lot on this role.  They cast Robin Williams as the Genie, and seeing the absolutely unique opportunity to allow that comedic genius to fully stretch himself, they let him.

They call such actions freeing the Genie from the Bottle because they have unforeseen consequences.  And that was the case here.  Much of the movie was left blank with the words "Robin Speaks".  And the animators filled in behind him.  The Genie of the Lamp had to have a personality larger than life, and Robin Williams suffers from an excess of personality; it was a perfect match.

And it shaped the movie.  The story is a little simple by the standards of the classics that went before; it had to be; all the spare spaces would be filled in by the genie.  And there have been claims that perhaps the other characters were a little less than three dimensional.  Well, the genie makes up for that in spades.  It was a balancing act, how to contain the Robin Williams of the Lamp performance without overshadowing it, or allowing it to overcomplicate the movie.

And Disney pulled it off masterfully.  An enduring classic was born, teaching the values of seizing opportunity, being yourself, and putting the interests of others before your own.  And finally, we could see what Robin Williams could do with no restrictions (other than the G rating).

Like Jafar, this review is Lean-N-Mean.  It is entered into Carstairs38's All Things Disney Write Off.


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