In 1989, The Walt Disney Company released “The Little Mermaid.” The film helped Disney relaunched its quality in terms of animation after suffering poor reception & box office fatigue. Disney’s resurgence spanning from 1989-1999 was known as “Disney Renaissance.” During that period, the company released notable gigantic animated hit movies in release date order including “The Rescuers: Down Under,” “Beauty & The Beast,” “Aladdin,” “The Lion King,” “Pocahontas,” “The Hunchback Of Norte Dame,” “Hercules,” “Mulan” & “Tarzan.”
One of the movies I’ve decided to review to prepare for a live action remake starring Will Smith (one of my favorite actors) as Genie scheduled to come out on March 24th is none other than my favorite animated Disney movie of all time known as “Aladdin.” Before we embark on the pro & cons, let me tell you about the history surrounding Aladdin.
In early 1991, Animation Directors Ron Clements & John Musker wrote a first draft screenplay with the help of late playwright/lyricist Howard Ashman brainstorming ideas for a “Three Act Structure,” “Musical Numbers,” “Character Arcs” “Tone” just to name a few elements. Before the script was done, Howard kicked the bucket. After Howard’s untimely death, Ron & John visited former Disney CEO & co-founder of “DreamWorks Animation” Jeffery Katzenberg. Jeffery read the script, but thought it didn’t help him emotionally engage the story. He demanded an entire rewrite of the script.
Jeffery hired screenwriting duo Ted Elliot & Terry Rossio (The Mask Of Zorro, Shrek, Pirates Of The Caribbean series, by polishing the script. When the script was finished, Jeffery green-lit the project. Animators worked their butts off researching Arabic history as a guide to create Agrabah, the main setting of the film, costume designs, character models just to name a few. Scott Weinger (Steve from Full House) signed on to voice the title character, stand-up comedian Gilbert Gottfried recorded his lines as Iago, Jafar’s parrot henchman & last but not least, Robin Williams as Genie after Eddie Murphy John Candy, Albert Brooks, John Goodman & Steve Martin dropped out, due to scheduling conflicts.
Before Robin voiced Genie, he demanded Disney to remove is name/image for gratuitous marketing & merchandise, fearing he might overshadow the film. Disney however, refused his demands which resulted with Robin not supporting their film. Dan Castellaneta (voice of Homer Simpson) replaced him in an animated series based on Aladdin & a direct-to-video sequel titled, “Aladdin & The Return Of Jafar.” After Jeffery Katzenberg was fired by Disney, the company issued an apology allowing Robin to work with them in a second direct-to-video sequel titled, “Aladdin & The King Of Thieves.” Despite Robin reprising his role, Dan continued the role as Genie in other forms of media.
After a year long gap of development, Aladdin officially distributed worldwide.
Aladdin was released in 1992. (same year Quentin Tarantino’s film debut Reservoir Dogs came out) Like its stand-alone predecessors, Aladdin earned critical acclaim from many critics, families & movie goers alike. In addition to positive reception, the film made a bunch of money at the box office as the highest grossing film of the year.
Aladdin later earned Oscar nominations at “The 65th Academy Awards” for “Best Original Song” (A Whole New World) and “Best Original Score.” (Alan Menken) Both of em’ ultimately took home the awards.
Besides Aladdin’s remake, I’m also getting ready for The Lion King remake slated to come out on July 19, four days before my 26th birthday.
Today’s review doesn’t contain any potential SPOILERS. If you never ever ever seen Aladdin, feel free to read my non-spoiler article.
Positive & Negative Aspects
Positive: The Main Cast such as Scott Weinger, Linda Larkin, Jonathan Freeman, Gilbert Gottfried & Robin Williams all did an excellent job for their respective voiceover performances.
Animation looked beautiful. Character Models are spot on, the environmental detail is very well done bringing everything to life as a living and breathing atmosphere.
Fun Fact: Aladdin’s original concept art was based on Michael J. Fox, but Jeffery Katzenberg rejected the idea because he felt that Aladdin’s appearance wasn’t sexy enough for women. Then he requested a redesign of Aladdin to resemble Tom Cruise. Who’s one of my favorite actors of all time. Besides Tom, Aladdin’s pants are based on MC Hammer’s baggy pants.
Action Sequences were spot on decent. The action helps synchronize musical numbers without feeling easily bored.
Humor is filled with funny moments. Robin improvised his scenes, did his own singing, delivered witty dialogue & impersonating famous people. He deserves Bonus Points for his iconic performance.
Throughout the film, Genie often “Breaks The Fourth Wall.”
Ron Clements & John Musker both did a great job directing. They also produced & wrote the script.
Screenwriting duo Ted Elliott & Terry Russo also co-wrote the script.
Musical Numbers are memorable. My favorite song is “Friend Like Me.”
Alan Menken orchestrated music and co-wrote musical numbers.
Easter Eggs related to previous animated Disney films can be spotted if you have a keen eye.
Character Development involving Aladdin. As the story progresses, he learns to become honest with the help of Genie.
Chemistry between Aladdin & Jasmine automatically makes you care about them.
Besides Jasmine, Aladdin’s friendship with Genie serves as one of the main highlights.
Aladdin’s introduction establishes who he is from the song “One Jump Ahead.”
Aladdin’s motivation is to escape the poor district of Agrabah & wants to seek the girl of his dreams. He’s a relatable protagonist. He doesn’t need to use the lamp as he’s capable of defending himself since he had frequent encounters with the law.
Jafar is an intimating man who wants to overthrow Jasmine’s father. As an iconic Disney villain, he is scary as fudge.
Jasmine has ambitions to explore life outside her home.
Primary Theme for the story is about fulfilling your dreams using wishes by becoming rich, wealthy & gaining fame using one of them to find a soulmate. It’s not about using your wishes to gain fame & fortune, it’s about being honest centering Aladdin & Genie as they attempt to break Agrabah’s social barriers. What the message of the film truly means is all about “being yourself.”
Genie has three strict rules about wish granting. Thank goodness no Plot Holes weren’t spotted.
Disney veteran Jim Cummings (Winnie The Pooh & Darkwing Duck) has a voiceover role as a guard.
Without giving anything away, the ending is kinda bittersweet as we all know Robin Williams is no longer around. I’m giving it an Extra Point for shedding a tear in my eye.
Negative: To be honest with ya fellas, I couldn’t find nothing wrong with the film. I’m giving Disney an Extra Point for making a flawless movie.
The Final Verdict: A, FOR APEX!
Aladdin remains as my personal favorite animated Disney film of all time. Robin Williams’ legendary performance is timeless. “Friend Like Me” is my favorite song in the film. Characters were unforgettable as they serve a purpose. The moral gives Aladdin a sense of responsibility. If you’re excited to see the remake of Aladdin or want to introduce your kids to the original animated version, I strongly recommend the original before watching the remake.