Aladdin (Scott Weinger), a street boy, is always getting into trouble and dreams of living in the palace. Princess Jasmine (Linda Larkin) is being forced to marry but doesn’t like any of her suitors. When these two cross paths in the market place, they fall in love. However, Jasmine can only merry a prince, so Aladdin gets help from the magical Genie of the lamp (Robin Williams) to turn him into a prince and marry Jasmine. Meanwhile, the Sultan’s (Douglas Seale) royal vizer and trusted adviser, Jafar (Jonathan Freeman), tries to retrieve the magic lamp for himself to take over the kingdom.
Oh, man. Aladdin. This is one of my all-time favorite
animated films. When I was younger, I would watch my VHS copy everyday (at least until Toy Story was on home video). Over the years I have constantly watched it over and over again. There is something about Aladdin that no matter how many times I watch it, I still enjoy it just as much as when I would drive my parents crazy watching it nonstop.
In 1992, computer animation was in its early stages. Beauty and the Beast was the first animated movie to really utilize the technology the year before. Aladdin picks up where Beauty and the Beast left off. It beautifully blends traditional and computer animations. In scenes like the Cave of Wonders collapse, it can be difficult to see a distinction between the two. It truly is a sight to behold.
A movie is only as good as its characters. When you don’t like the characters, chances are you won’t like the movie either. One of the reasons Aladdin‘s story is so great (and powerful) is because the film establishes a connection between the viewer and the characters early on. Aladdin means well, even though he is a thief; Jasmine wants to get married for love, not because she has to; Genie is trapped and wants freedom. These are all relatable, adding another layer to the story/characters.
Disney hit the nail on the head with the voice casting. Jonathan Freeman is calm and malicious as Jafar, which makes Jafar even creepier considering how evil you know he is. Gilbert Gottfried is spectacular as Iago, Jafar’s loudmouthed, eccentric parrot. But hands down, the best casting is Robin Williams as the magical Genie. He can change his voice and mannerisms so quickly it’s amazing. Animation is limited only by the imagination, and Williams’ imagination seems to have no bounds. He fills this movie to the brim of all sorts of celebrity and character imitations. Some may go over the children’s heads, but these make it fun for the older viewers. Being an animated (not literally of course) person himself, Williams is a perfect match for Genie.
I’m going to break from this review for a moment to tell a story. Don’t worry, it will come back around. As I mentioned before, I watched Aladdin all the time when I was a kid. One of the people who ended up watching it with me was my dad. Now my dad and I have a very similar taste in movies, but he tends to lean more towards action and slap-stick movies. This last time watching Aladdin, he saw what I was watching and sat on the couch next to me and watched it with me. When I told him I was surprised he decided to join me, he took a jab at me about how many times he saw it then said, “It has been a while, I figured it was time to see it again.” Later, my little brother, who for some odd reason refuses to watch any movie not made in the last ten years, saw my dad and me watching Aladdin, sat down next to us, and the three of us finished the movie together.
What my story is getting to, and really the reason I think Aladdin is such an amazing movie, is that no matter who you are, or your taste in movies, almost everyone enjoys Aladdin. The excellent story, memorable and relatable characters, catchy songs, and Robin Williams’ voice work makes Aladdin a movie that is genuinely enjoyed by all ages.
Cast & Crew
Ron Clements – Director
John Musker – Director
Ted Elliott – Screenplay
Terry Rossio – Screenplay
Alan Menken – Composer
Howard Ashman – Songwriter
Tim Rice – Songwriter
Scott Weinger – Aladdin
Brad Kane – Aladdin (singing voice)
Linda Larkin – Jasmine
Lea Salonga – Jasmine (singing voice)
Robin Williams – Genie / Merchant
Jonathan Freeman – Jafar
Frank Welker – Abu / Rajah / Cave of Wonders
Gilbert Gottfried – Iago
Douglas Seale – The Sultan
Jim Cummings – Razoul / Farouk