Aladdin, a street urchin, accidentally meets Princess Jasmine, who is in the city undercover. They love each other, but she can only marry a prince.
Year 1, Day 230
BEFORE: February is now half over and that means it’s time to start the next chain in the movie marathon: animated films. Animation genre is by far the least represented genre in this marathon (really, I don’t know how that happened) so I’m attempting to correct that with two weeks of nothing but animation. All but two of the films are Disney/Pixar (How to Train Your Dragon and Rango are the outliers) and I’ve already seen five or six on the list.
Kicking things off is the Disney film Aladdin, one of the ones I have seen. One of the reasons I’m watching so many films I’ve previously seen in this chain is because they’re films I saw as a very young child and haven’t seen for 10+ years. I’m curious to see if I still like them as much as I did and look back at why these films are so memorable (or not).
AFTER: Oh the memories. Aladdin was much like I remembered it all those years ago. The same great characters, same great sense of humor, and the same iconic songs. But how much of the enjoyment is from pure nostalgia and how much is from pure merit? For the most part I think the film held up although there are a few parts that were less than perfect.
One of the draws to Aladdin is that it appeals to many people, yet doesn’t seem to be too broad/general. There’s a lot of slapstick and other child humor, mostly though the characters of Abu, Iago (Gilbert Gottfried), and the magic carpet. Then you have more witty adult humor primarily through referencing a lot of other pop culture. This is seen primarily through the Genie (Robin Williams) and one of the best examples is after Aladdin (Scott Weinger) and Abu have escaped the Cave of Wonders. Genie transforms into multiple personalities, one being that of Rodney Dangerfield; a joke I never would have gotten as a child but seeing it now as an adult made me laugh hysterically. In addition to the humor, which to me is the biggest draw of the film, the songs are another. I’m not sure if I ever stated this when I saw any prior musical in this marathon, but the one exception to my reasons of hating musicals is Disney. I’ve always enjoyed Disney musicals (a lot are featured in this animation chain) and Aladdin is just another on that list. Here I think it’s more nostalgia kicking in, already knowing the songs, but many people like the music so I’d say there is merit to the music as well.
But there are also some part of this film that have not stood the test of time, or rather, were probably never good to begin with. The story overall was well told and has an enjoyable arc. However there are some characters and events which were not as well developed. Ones that come to mind are the Sultan (Douglas Seale) and pretty much the entire ending (read: after Jafar (Jonathan Freeman) obtains the lamp). The Sultan, while definitely a unique and specific character doesn’t serve much purpose. And the ending fits in with the theme/message if you will, but I found it to be too over-the-top. It was too different from the rest of the film that it distracted me from what was going on. The turn into a darker style isn’t the issue; it’s going so dark after being so light.
Aladdin is one of those classic Disney films that will probably always have a place on family shelves. Watching it again after all these years helped me realize why it’s such a great movie and why kids and adults alike can enjoy it. But I also discovered some things that weren’t as great as I remember. So recommendation wise, I’d say it’s worth a rewatch if you’ve seen it before and definitely worth a watch if you’re a newcomer even if it’s not a perfect film. Although that’s probably the nostalgia talking.
RATING: 4 out of 5