Saturday, November 25, 2017

MLEEP Reviews: Aladdin - 25 Years Of Arabian Nights

Written By Ron Clements, John Musker, Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio
Composed By Alan Menken
Produced By Ron Clements & John Musker
Edited By Mark A. Hester & H. Lee Peterson
Directed By Ron Clements & John Musker

After the disappointment of 'The Black Cauldron', Disney was on a huge kick: not only were they gonna turn out better products, but they were gonna turn them out fast.  The films went from coming out every five to seven to ten years to suddenly every year...and after the revolutionary success of 'The Little Mermaid' and 'Beauty And The Beast', naturally another film had to be made the very next year; thus on November 25th of 1992, 'Aladdin' was born...and as expected, this film was a huge hit among critics and audiences everywhere.  But after twenty five years, does Aladdin still have what it takes to be that diamond in the rough?  Let's find out, this is 'Aladdin'!

Based on the Middle Eastern folk tale of the same name, Aladdin follows our title character as a thief who's trying to get by in the streets when he comes across the beautiful Princess Jasmine who's trying to make a life for herself outside of the palace.  When Aladdin gets captured and manipulated by Jafar into searching for a magic lamp, he comes across a magic carpet and the I even need to say who voiced him?  With the Genie's help, Aladdin heads back to town using one of his three wishes to turn himself into a prince thinking it will allow him the possibility of marrying Jasmine...but Jafar plots to kill Aladdin and use the Genie for his own diabolical powers, will Aladdin be able to save Agrabah from becoming an Arabian nightmare?  Well, everyone's seen this movie by now, so I'm sure you know what get your sword fight, giant monsters, action, comedy, all that good stuff.

As I said earlier, this film was a huge hit among critics and audiences at the time it first came out...but now that twenty five years have gone by, what does and doesn't work about Aladdin?  Well, it's sort of the same thing a lot of the time since 'Aladdin' is very modern especially with how while Agrabah does look great with the way that the city is lit as well as the color palette chosen for the movie, it feels much more like Las Vegas than it does of an Arabian city.  On top of that...while the late Robin Williams' extensive lineup of improvised jokes is funny, they all come from a time period that current people talked as well as movies that hadn't been made by this time period-in fact, they didn't even know what movies were back then; thus resulting in a lot of fourth wall breaks and modern day talk.  Most of this movie doesn't seem to take place 'once upon a time', but more along the lines of the time that Shrek lives in...yeeeah, Shrek probably stole a lot from this movie for their franchise.  But this doesn't necessarily make Aladdin bad, it makes it unique if anything since it was a very different take that Disney wanted to do and it apparently really paid off for them in the end.

While Aladdin and Jasmine feel out of their time period as well with how they feel more like Gen X'rs than the product of an Arabian village, what still wins me over is that they actually do have chemistry.  I know it's another three-day romance and then they get married which was a common thing with Disney Renaissance films, but you really believed they were in love since they did have conversations talking about their problems and they do try to help each other out...even though it's not like that of Belle and Beast from 'Beauty And The Beast', it still manages to work in my opinion.  But what's a Disney movie without a villain and Jafar is definitely one to talk about since he is actually my favorite villain in the entire Disney universe.  It's said that Jafar was drawn by a woman who happened to be pregnant at the time-if that's the case, then she did a spectacular job with giving a menacing appearance for how great and powerful of a sorcerer Jafar can be with how he hypnotizes people and alters his appearance throughout the course of the movie and especially with the sensationally slithering performance that Jonathan Freeman provides for him...and for all of you Thomas The Tank Engine fans out there, he also happens to be the voice for Tito Swing of the Jukebox Puppet Band from 'Shining Time Station' and what's even better is that Jonathan actually plays the character that he voiced from this movie in the Broadway production of the movie-if that doesn't show dedication to your performance, I don't know what does!

Overall, while it may not hold up as well as it did when it first came out, 'Aladdin' is still a truly heartwarming and hilarious movie with plenty of things to admire and laugh at for years to come and I give it a rating of a 9 out of 10.  Get lost in 'A Whole New World' with quite a nostalgic favorite....