I just wanted to say first off, that it has officially been a year (to the day) since I have started this blog. I would like to think everyone who has supported me from the beginning (Animation Commendation, Swanpride, others) for giving me the motivation to go on, and for assuring me that I am doing something right, and I would like to thank all the other commenters and viewers who have joined me over the year. This has been a fun ride, and I am glad that the review of Aladdin will be on the first anniversary of AnimatedKid’s blog. I will post an Anniversary blog, since I know you clicked this post for my review of Aladdin, so let’s get to it.
My opinion right after watching film
My opinion right after watching the film is that it is pretty great. It has a really strong romantic relationship, engaging and characterized characters, a fast paced plot, and it is good to look at. While I do not like the holes that Genie brings to the films and all the aged pop culture references, this film still has heart more than the DreamWorks bullshit that Katzenberg tried to rub in this film.
Production for this film stated in 1988 (a year after BatB did, and 3 years before TLM did) as Howard Ashman brought it to a pitch, with a few songs that were helped completed by Alan Menken, and a screenplay written by Linda Woolverton, and the animators John Musker and Ron Clements chose this out of the 2 other sketches; The Lion King, and a Swan Lake adaption. A full screenplay was brought to Katzenberg (I do not know if it was before or after Ashman passed away), and he told them to rework it. Aladdin was changed from 13 to 18 (to add sex appeal) and to be rougher in personality, his mother was cut out, Jasmine is a stronger character and has much more prominence in the film, a british parrot was turned into Iago; so practically, make it more 1992 and celeb voices.
Agrabah was inspired by the town of one of the crew members; the city being named Istafan, Iran. Genie was created with Robin Williams in mind, and he accepted the job, though he was working on 2 live action films at the same time. He went on the project for SAG pay ($75,000) so he would not be used for promotion (since he was going to sell the film Toys), but of course Disney refused and did the opposite, having Robin Williams #Anti-Disney for about 5 years, and after Katzenberg got the boot.
I mentioned in the Beauty and the Beast review that Howard Ashman died of AIDS in early 1991, but while the former could go on with no problem, Aladdin went through MANY changes. Aladdin (the character) was changed to be older and sexier (being based off Tom Cruise and Calvin Klein models), the main focus of the movie was the romance of him and Jasmine, mother was cut out, many of his songs were cut, since they went a different direction with the film, and having to replace the lyricist with Tim Rice, who wrote 3 songs for the film. They pretty much started over. The Thief of Bagdad was used for inspiration for this film as well.
So the film starts with the song Arabian Nights, which is talking about how the people there will fuck you up if they do not like your face, and it is hot in a lot of good ways (wink wink, nudge nudge). We get a peddler (Robin Williams) who is trying to sell the lamp, and tells that it changes a boy’s life. People thought this scene was useless, but the execs always planned to make sequels from this film (which is why he closes King of Thieves).
It is morning and we are introduced to our hero Aladdin (Scot Weinger) through the song One Jump Ahead, which shows him running from the guards for stealing a loaf of bread. It is established that he is the bottom of the social chain in town, has no parents, is broke, and he only steals to eat, so he can live. It is a fun song and a good enough intro. Him and his BFF/pet Abu (Frank Welker) are about to eat their bread, but then they see 2 orphaned children looking through the trash to get food, so he gives the bread to them, as he feels bad for them.
The children run to the street where a prince is about to go to the palace of Princess Jasmine (Linda Larkin) to be her suitor. He is about to whip the children, but Aladdin steps in and tells him that he has no manners, to only be kicked to the ground and into dirt. Everyone laughs at him, and he eventually sings a reprise of One Jump Ahead, which is about there being so much more to him, and that he is not just a street rat. We see he has some serious insecurity issues that he needs to work out. He foreshadows about being rich and living in a palace.
The next morning, Jasmine sends the prince packing, with his underwear revealed thanks to a bite her tiger Rajah left in his pants. The Sultan (Douglas Seale) sighs from his daughter’s
badassery disobedience, and talks to her about needing to get married, since the law is she has to be married to a prince by her 16th birthday; which is only 3 days away. She thinks the law is wrong, and wants to be able to make her own decisions, as she is extremely sheltered and has never done a thing of her own.
The Sultan rants to his vizier Jafar, who secretly despises him. He gets the Sultan’s ring by hypnotizing it, so he can find the diamond in the rough. Him and Iago go to their lair to look for the diamond in the rough, and it is revealed that they are plotting behind The Sultan’s back to take over. Jasmine sneaks out to leave, and has a saddening goodbye to her pet tiger and her only BFF.
The morning after, Jasmine is wandering the Agrabahin streets, and she is really curious and a bit overwhelmed with how the other people are interacting, and how the town is. Aladdin takes notice of her, and realizes that she is a hottie. Abu already knows he is lust-struck, but things get crazy when Jasmine gives a little boy an apple from the Market, not knowing about needing to pay. She is about to get her hand amputated, but he comes to her rescue and she goes along with his plan to trick the merchant out of the apple situation she managed to get into. This scene shows that they work great together and both adapt really well in any situation.
Since she has no home, she decides to go to the hot ass’ house, and they start talking
which only really happened in a disney princess couple for….Belle and Beast, and even that was half assed. They make it through the slums of Agrabah, and they are already staring at one another lustfully. So she thanks him for saving her, and he says it is no problem. He tries to get to know her, and compliments her on standing out. She refuses to tell him anything about her past life, but he becomes more turned on as she hops between houses through a stick, and says she is a “fast learner”.
So they run away from the guards and soon enough, he is captured. Jasmine decides to release herself to save her potential lover, but it fails. Aladdin is shocked that she is a princess, and Razoul (Jim Cummings) ignores her request because Jafar (who has more power than her) told them to bring the street rat in the slammer. She rushes to Jafar to tell him off for arresting her potential lover for no reason. He tries to spin it by saying Aladdin kidnapped her, which fails because she reveals he ran away. Jafar tells her that he received the death penalty, and she runs off crying. Jasmine is actually really depressed and sad for most of the movie.
Abu releases Aladdin from the chains in the jail, and the 18 year old goes on and on about her being a princess. Abu rolls his eyes, since he let pussy distract him, which the street rat replies that it was worth it
how is it worth it if they did not get any play? So Jafar disguised as an older old man is in the jail, and tells Aladdin about a lamp and a secret passage, and because he is the helpful boy, he goes after it. They bump into Carpet (who is ALL CGI), and were told that only the lamp is supposed to be touched, but of course the money hungry kleptomaniac monkey could not do that.
The Cave of Wonders is about to collapse because of this, and we have a weird, badly aged CGI chase scene on the carpet. They are about to escape, but when Jafar tells them to give the lamp, he betrays them, causing the trio to stay stuck in the defunct cave.
Jasmine is locked up in her room, crying and sulking about her life sucking overall, and Aladdin being “killed”. Her father goes to her to comfort her, and it is nice that she finds it so easy to talk to her father, showing that they really are close.
So Al rubs the lamp to introduce us to Genie (Robin Williams) who randomly sings Friend Like Me, which explains everything Genie could do. It is really catchy. So Aladdin gets Genie to let them out without actually wishing for it, but when Genie does ask him to make a wish, he decides to be a prince because he wants to have a chance with Jasmine. Unlike other couples, he actually states that he likes her because she is smart, fun, THEN beautiful. The teen asks Genie what would he wish for, with the blue man saying that he would wish for freedom. They make an agreement that he will use his last wish to free Genie.
So while this is going on, Iago tells Jafar that he could marry Jasmine and after the wedding, to drop her and the Sultan off a cliff, which Jafar decides to do next, since he has no lamp.
There is also the plot hole about the Prince wish, since Genie gets him a parade, and for him to be a prince……he needs land, a kingdom, and people to rule over, but he never gets that. So; Aladdin is playing dress up.
Right after Sultan tells Jafar he is too old for Jasmine (I love this old man Sultan) , we go through Prince Ali, which only turns Jasmine off, and when he meets The Sultan and Jafar, talking about how he will win her, and Jafar is trying to convince the Sultan that he shall marry her, but when Jasmine arrives, she is furious at all of them for deciding her future without her input. It is the end of the second night, and while Jasmine is sighing on her balcony about tomorrow being a sucky birthday, Aladdin is ranting and worrying about Jasmine not letting him talk to her. Genie tells him to tell the truth, which the Arabian refuses to because in his mind, she would laugh at him if she ever found out he was a street rat.
So he decides to fly up to her balcony to talk to her, and decides to be suave, and confident. That totally fails when he goes up to her. She instantly recognizes him as the boy from the market place as his hat falls off and is shooing her tiger away. He tells her no, and tries to give an explanation, which she finds pathetic. He tells her she is beautiful, and she goes on to say she is rich too, and is a fine prize. This was a trap that he fell for, causing her to lose her top, since he is apparently like all the other cocky, arrogant losers she met. He says she is right, and jumps off the cliff, which she is worried about. He shows her the carpet, and asks for a ride. She is fascinated, and immediately recognizes that it is the boy from the marketplace, when he offers his hand and asks if she trusts him.
They go on a magic carpet ride, and sing A Whole New World, which is to sum it up; about them wanting to go on adventures and new, thrilling, shimmering experiences with one another. Since his guard is down during the song, she actually likes spending time with him. They end up on the rooftop of a Chinese palace when Mulan is probably being celebrated, and as they converse, she brings up Abu, which only confirms it is Aladdin.
So they make it to her balcony for her to wish her handsome prince goodnight, and him wishing his princes to sleep well. They are nervous, but forced to have one of the best kisses thanks to Carpet. When he makes it to the ground, Jafar has the guards tie Ali up , knock him out and throw him in the river. Sultan needs to be on his shit when it comes to these guards. So Genie is accidentally rubbed, and sees that Aladdin is drowning in the sea, so he uses a wish to save the boy.
Jasmine is humming like she has had the most pleasurable experience as she combs her hair, and when her father arrives in her room, she twirls happily to him and reveals she had the best time. The hypnotized Sultan tells her that she is marrying Jafar. Before she can even fully react to the news, her boo Aladdin shows up and exposes Jafar for a traitor, and sees that he is using the staff to hypnotize her father. After Jafar is gone (he sees the lamp in Aladdin’s hat), the Sultan sees that she has chosen a suitor, and unintentionally interrupts them every time they are about to kiss.
It is Jasmine’s birthday, and Sultan tells him that he has a good chance of being Sultan, which makes Aladdin feel bad and tells Genie for a moment that he cannot wish him free, because he will not be able to pull the lie off. After lashing out at the others, he realizes he needs to tell Jasmine the truth. Iago imitates Jasmine’s room to get Al to leave the room, and he steals the lamp. The boy sees Jasmine in her purple outfit and is about to tell her the truth, but she rushes him to be introduced to the kingdom as her suitor, not giving him any time to talk.
So of course Aladdin comes back, and when Jafar offers Jasmine to be his wife, she throws a glass of wine at him, causing her to fall as he almost slaps her. He wishes for her to fall in love with him, but Genie says he cannot do that. Seeing her boo hiding above, Jasmine tries to seduce Jafar long enough for Al to steal the lamp, and she is forced to kiss him. It is comedic with her trying to find ways to compliment him.
So the climax approaches as Jasmine is trapped in an hourglass, Abu turned into a toy, and Carpet turned into a ball of rope. The street rat is trying to kick Jafar’s ass and to save Jasmine at the same time, but is only successful when he uses Jafar’s ego against him, saying Genie will always be more powerful than him. He uses his final wish to become a genie, causing him to be trapped in a lamp (but he makes sure Iago gets stuck with him as well), and Genie tosses it to who knows how far.
Jasmine and Aladdin are torn about loving one another, but being forced to break up. Genie says he can make him a prince again. HE IS ALREADY A PRINCE; or did you Genie just give him prince clothes? Is Genie as powerful as he says he is? This is a plothole that is very strong in this film. Anyways, it is the moral that counts, so Aladdin wishes Genie free. Because Al will be a good ruler, and
knowing he will not hear the end of her hatred for him for taking her only love away for as long as he lives because he wants her happy, he says that any prince(ss) can choose their own suitor.
So Aladdin and Jasmine are in purple outfits, and they are singing A Whole New World, and fly off on the carpet. Where are they going? We know they are not married. Are they going on a date? Paying a visit to Belle, Ariel, Megara’s kingdoms? Birthday sex? Who knows.
The characters are pretty likable, and work off well with one another.
The animation is pretty good. I like the caricatured, Arabians style they were going with, and how everything from the backgrounds to the characters were so shapely and had interesting lines and curves. The character designs and movements are extremely fluid, and the colors are really bold, and is what you will remember most about the animation. I do think the CGI has aged worse than the other Renaissance films though.
The music is good; I will give it that. Some of the songs had the Arabian style to it, but others had a carnival-y theme to it. I do not know why Genie got to sing so many songs by himself, as I think it could have been given to more important characters (Jasmine, Jafar, Aladdin). There are a few filler songs that are not really needed, but all of the songs are really entertaining.
Reception at Release
When this film was released on November 25, 1992, it opened to number 2 right behind Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, and managed to stay there for a few weeks, before climbing to and staying at #1 for 5 weeks (only reaching #1 in 1993), and was in theaters for 22 weeks. It is the highest grossing film of 1992, with $217 domestically (a record at the time), and $286 worldwide, leaving the box office to be $504,050,219, with a $28 million budget.
It was praised just like BatB and The Little Mermaid was, being praised for Robin Williams
which is getting a bit of backlash now from the pop culture references dating now, the adventure, fast pace, romance, comedy, and for appealing to a wider audience and doing so successfully. There were the handful of people that considered this film racist, and found that they Americanized the Arabian culture and made it like a joke. Disney has had to deal with a lot of racist accusations with their ethnic films.
This film received many nominations and wins (like it’s 2 predecessors) for its music. It was nominated for too many awards to count, but I do know that it won an Annie for Best Animated Film, 2 Academy Awards for Best Song (A Whole New World) and Best Score, and Robin Williams won a few awards for his performance.
The soundtrack was extremely successful as well. It charted at #6 on the Billboard charts, and has become 3x Platinum records.
It’s reception today is still great. It actually launched a successful Broadway show this year (which won a few Tonys), had the FIRST honor of having the first sequels produced by DisneyToon Studios; The Return of Jafar, and The King of Theives. Apparently, they had a plan to make a few sequels to Aladdin before the film was even released. It had a successful TV series from 1994-1996, and is very prominent on merchandise and theme parks. Many see this as the start of celebrity voices (which is SO wrong) and the first modern film.
= 32.5/40 = 81%