31st in the animated collection of Disney’s and part of their Renaissance, this Arabian themed tale of love and status is timeless, beautiful and witty to boot. A classic film for all ages with sparkling music and songs.
Trying to obtain a magical lamp from the Cave of Wonders is Grand Vizier and lean mean Jafar (Jonathan Freeman) who realises only a diamond in the rough can venture into the cave and this person is Aladdin (Scott Weinger). Aladdin, a street wise thief wishes to be rich and live in the palace whereas Princess Jasmine (Linda Larkin) wants to experience life without rules in the palace and soon they cross paths. After getting the lamp Aladdin unwittingly lets out a magical Genie (Robin Williams) who could just help Aladdin be the diamond he’s meant to be.
Aside from a few odd looking moments that step away from hand drawn animation, like the cave escape which looks shakily CG, the film is masterful in entrancing its audience into this warm and sandy world. The twinkling romanticism of ‘A Whole New World’ is starry and gorgeous, the streets of Agrabah are suitably drawn to oppose the more impressive rich visuals of the palace and the characters are typically Disney-esque but in a good way, at least giving a skin colour other than white a leading role as prince and princess.
The songs are mostly great, all of them being recognisable, such as the bouncy fun and catchy ‘One Jump Ahead’ setting up the lifestyle of the titular character. ‘A Whole New World’ is of course soft and harmonic in creating this love between Jasmine and Aladdin. ‘Friend Like Me’ stands out, for me at least, as the best song of the picture, utilising the shifting impressions of Williams in a grand aural spectacular of fulfillment and desire to entice us in to the wonders Genie can bestow. ‘Arabian Nights’ is a bit of a slow unexciting number to open the film but it sounds the part and ‘Prince Ali’ isn’t outstanding apart from the party celebrations of colour that go with it on screen.
It’s fun to watch maddening whirls of pace as Genie floats and ricochets about the place, perfectly reflecting the crazy nature of Robin Williams’ comedy. The Disney tie-ins are lovely Easter eggs to spot too, such as a Goofy hat or Pinocchio cropping up. The menace of greed and spindly devilish dread are manifested well into the tall thin figure of Jafar. Abu is another Disney animal companion to add to the long list but may be one of the slight weaknesses of the film, compared to the more sly and fun Iago, as he just doesn’t do much. And that’s a thing I never thought I’d comment on when reviewing this.
Robin Williams, as expected dominates the voice talent, with his showstopping control of whizzing accents and flecks of speech twisted to make the blue Genie charming, fun and someone you’d like to know. The Jafar cheer-leading call makes me laugh out loud every single time. Weinger and Larkin are calming and fitting voices for the heroes of the movie, and they sound right together in their similar drive to break against the mould of Agrabah.
Unarguably entertaining and one of Disney’s better outings, ‘Aladdin’ excels thanks to golden animating and a splendid humorous turn from Williams’ Genie.