The next recommendation from the Great Movies – 100 Years of Film book following my screening of The Lion King, is yet another modern Disney classic, and once again like Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid features music by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman.
Featuring a wonderfully manic performance by Robin Williams as the Genie (as well as the Peddler) the tale of Aladdin gets a Disney update, and after all this time still remains a lot of fun. In fact this is one of the only Disney cartoons that I saw more than once in the theatre (it also got played countless times in the video stores that I worked in).
The story follows young Aladdin (Scott Weinger), a ‘diamond in the rough,’ a bit of a street urchin with his kleptomaniac monkey Abu (Frank Welker) at his side. His I Want song (a signature piece early in the film to illustrate the characters wants and desires), early in the film sets up the world Aladdin exists in, the trouble he finds himself in on a regular basis, and what he would really like from his life
He is sought out by the evil vizier, Jafar (Jonathan Freeman) – who has his own pet sidekick, the bird, Iago (Gilbert Gottfried) to access a Cave of Wonders hidden deep in the desert.
When he is trapped in the Cave he discovers that the worn lamp he was sent to claim is special. When rubbed, it releases a Genie who agrees to grant three wishes, excluding a number of caveats including more wishes and making someone fall in love.
But Aladdin has his own plan for that when he sets eyes on Princess Jasmine (Linda Larkin) and with the Genie’s help he may prove to himself that he’s more than he thought he was, and win the heart of the girl.
That is if Jafar doesn’t catch on to who he really is and the prize that the lamp signifies.
The film is upbeat, colourful, has inspires a stage musical, and rumours of a live action film coming.
One tends to forget how good all of these stories are, you only remember bits and pieces, the general impression of the movie, but when you watch them, the Disney magic hits, and you can’t help but get caught up in the story.
Williams comedic style is brilliantly suited to animation, as he morphs from character to character, set piece to set piece. He steals every scene he is in, and he adds to already enjoyable story at work here.
Settling in to watch this one after not having seen it for almost two decades was rather entertaining, and it remains very enjoyable.
Family fare works best when there’s something for all members of the family to keep them interested, and this one succeeds nicely.