Directed by: John Musker, Ron Clements
Written by: Ron Clements, John Musker, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio
Starring: Scott Weinger, Robin Williams, Linda Larkin, Jonathan Freeman, Frank Welker, Gilbert Gottfried, Douglas Seale
Runtime: 90 min
After a sultan (Douglas Seale) gives his daughter, Jasmine (Linda Larkin), three days to find a husband, she escapes the palace and encounters the street-savvy urchin Aladdin (Scott Weinger), who charms his way into her heart.
While the sultan's Vizier, Jafar (Jonathan Freeman), weaves a spell so that he may marry Jasmine and become sultan himself, Aladdin discovers Genie's (Robin Williams) lamp in a cave, rubs it, and sets the mystical entity free, so beginning his quest to defeat Jafar and win the hand of the princess.
Aladdin is one of Disney‘s most adored classics, being the indisputable favorite of many, many fans. The Lion King will always have that spot in my heart, but I also visited this story set in Agrabah dozens of times. Now, with the 2019’s remake about to premiere, I rewatched it last night and, once again, I fell in love. Honestly, I didn’t remember how funny and entertaining it is! It still holds up incredibly well, even though the film was released almost 30 years ago. The animation still looks stunning and fluid, but it’s the musical numbers and the voice work from the cast that makes this movie one of Disney‘s best.
As it’s known, Robin Williams shines in a role that stands out from his brilliant filmography, as his career-best interpretation of an animated character. Genie is one of the most versatile figures of Disney and Williams spreads out his wings of creativeness and imagination, delivering a phenomenal voice performance of the hilarious blue entity. From his seamless imitations to the simple yet extremely difficult tone changes, he gives everything. Genie appears every time the film most needs him, which is when the pacing starts to drop and needs something to pump it back up while moving the plot forward. He could merely be a plot device, but thankfully the writers gave him an unique personality with his own motivations, making us not only laugh with him but genuinely care about his destiny.
That’s the other main attribute of this movie: its writing. The dialogues feel realistic, grounded, and there are no real exposition scenes, besides the musical sequences, which are also meant to serve that purpose. Aladdin and Jasmine lived utterly opposite lives, and both wish to change. Each wants the other’s life experiences and adventures, which provides some amazing moments between these characters. I still wish their relationship had more time to develop (something I hope the remake will do), as well as Jafar‘s motivations. It’s 1992, and it’s an animated film, but the cliche villain who wants power because “I’m the bad guy” never quite worked. However, the menacing and dark voice of John Freeman sells this character. In addition to these protagonists, Abu and Iago are two comedy sources that perfectly work, all the time.
Musically, there is no way of denying the cultural impact that the Aladdin songs had. From Arabian Nights to A Whole New World, every song is filled with rich lyrics, great rhythm, and a beautiful tone. Not only are these able to develop the character or move the plot forward, but they also help the story never to break its fast pacing. Almost 30 years later, the animation quality still looks striking, and there are so many memorable backgrounds and visually outstanding settings. Disney‘s 90s decade is an absolute treasure in movie history: Beauty and the Beast, Toy Story, The Lion King, Pocahontas, Mulan, Tarzan, Aladdin and a few more animated diamonds (in the rough) that went a bit under the radar.
All of these will definitely get a live-action remake (some already have), and I welcome all of them. Stop trying to boycott something that will only help the new generations to fall in love with the same characters that we did. Live-action isn’t here to offend our childhood or produce cheap copies of our favorite films! It isn’t here to replace the originals but to honor them instead by delivering modern takes on stories that impacted us on a deep emotional level, and that will try to do the same for our children, grandsons and nephews. Are they going to be better than the source material? Worse? It doesn’t really matter as long as they keep the original’s essence and the traits that made us adore these unforgettable characters. And, please, stop the “they’re doing these remakes for money” argument. That can literally be said about every movie in the history of cinema. Unfortunately, entertainment is a business, it always was, and it always will be. Move on.
All in all, Aladdin is a beautifully passionate story about how two incredibly different people with two completely different lifestyles can come to love each other by who they truly are. Robin Williams is a perfectly polished diamond and his scenes alone superbly elevate this film. One of Disney most impactful classics, filled with memorable songs, well-written characters, and stunning animation, which holds up remarkably still to this day. Despite some nitpicks regarding Jafar and the protagonists’ relationship, Aladdin is undoubtedly an unbelievably precious gem which continues (and will continue) to be loved by newer generations all around the world.