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Posted on 5/05/13 01:49 AM
From very early on, 'Aladdin' promises that this is going to be a great film. And, boy is it! Aladdin is fun and funny, with entertaining characters and lovely songs.
Aladdin is about a poor, unfortunate man who lives in the street with no one but his friend Abu. This man's name is Aladdin (Scott Weinger). One day, however, his bad luck changes. First of all, he meets a princess who he immediately falls in love with, named Jasmine (Linda Larkin). Then, he also finds a magic lamp, which, when rubbed, gives you a spectacular genie (Robin Williams), who will answer three wishes.
Aladdin is quite a film. It isn't as profound as Beauty and the Beast, or as jazzy and fun as The Jungle Book, but it's still so much fun. Lots of this is thanks to the characters. Although the two main characters, Aladdin and Jasmine, feel rather generic, the supporting cast is great. Abu is fun, lively and he's got more of a personality than I expected for a sidekick-monkey. The magic carpet is also fun, especially because he doesn't have a face, and, instead has to communicate using his strings and body. And, of course, I absolutely adore Genie.
Genie's brilliant. He speaks quickly, wittily and with the voice of Robin Williams. Robin Williams and animation is a match made in heaven. Genie is always moving, and always making jokes. He's always making something magical happen, changing voices or shape-shifting to a bunch of different characters. He turns into Groucho Marx, Arsenio Hall, William Buckley Jr., Peter Lorre and even Jack Nicholson. You just have to admire a children's' film that has a Jack Nicholson reference! And Genie even has a bit of an emotional moment, which I really liked and was impressed with the directors for putting in. If there's ever a character as lively and wonderful as Genie, I'd love to see it.
So, for the seemingly never-ending debate about Genie vs. Mushu, my vote obviously goes to Genie. How can it not?
Another great thing about this film is the score and soundtrack. The songs in Aladdin are brilliant - as good as anything Disney has ever done. I've never been that big a fan of 'A Whole New World' (sentimental songs just aren't my thing) but the rest are great. I liked 'One Step Ahead' for its energy, and loved 'Friend like Me' for its Genie-ness. My absolute favorite song of the film is without a doubt 'Prince Ali'. This song is catchy, energetic, well-written, extremely fun, funny, and it has Genie in it. I had this song stuck in my head for a very, very long time after watching this film.
The score by Alan Menken is also nice, if not quite Oscar-worthy. What I liked about this score is that it does something similar to what Michael Giacchino did with his Up score - he gave each character its own individual theme, which changes in tone as the character develops. This was especially apparent with Genie, and I really liked that.
But, alas, Aladdin also has flaws, and all of these seem to lie with the character of Aladdin and Jasmine. First of all, their characters and romance seemed a bit generic; there's nothing that sets this romance apart from any other Disney romance. And that is disappointing.
Another thing is that it all seems so cliche. Lots of this has been seen before: the princess who has to marry, but wants to wait to find her true love; the falling in love with someone she's not allowed to marry; the kind street-urchin; and the madman who wants to take over the country.
So, Aladdin does have flaws, but that doesn't really matter. The directors know perfectly well that Aladdin isn't supposed to be a thoughtful, emotional film that will be studied for years to come. They know that Aladdin is just supposed to be a fun film with good jokes and memorable characters. And, when looking at it like that, Aladdin doesn't only succeed; it excels.