moviebuff801: Time Capsule Reviews: Aladdin (1992)

Posted: August 23, 2012 by moviebuff801 in moviebuff801's Movie Reviews, Time Capsule Reviews

Release Date: November 25th, 1992

Running Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Written by: Ron Clements, John Musker, Ted Elliot, Terry Rossio

Directed by:Ron Clements, John Musker

Starring (featuring the voice talents of):

Ask anybody like me, who was a kid of the 90’s, what their favorite animated Disney film is, and the most common answer you’ll likely get is The Lion King.  Now, is that my answer?  No, but that’s not to say I don’t like The Lion King.  But that’s beside the point.  No, my pick would be Aladdin – not necessarily the Disney movie with the deepest themes, mind you, but it is the one I find to be the most fun.

We all know the story: how a “street rat” named Aladdin (Scott Weigner) dreams to meet someone who doesn’t see him as nothing more than a criminal.  Similarly, Princess Jasmine (Linda Larkin) yearns for the day when others around her will see her as more than just a prize to be married off to the best suitor.  This prompts her to one day sneak out of the palace of Agrabah and hit the streets, disguised as a commoner, where she crosses paths with Aladdin and his pet monkey, Abu.  The two hit it off almost instantly.  But after being captured by palace guards, Aladdin finds himself entangled in a plot set in motion by the Sultan’s nefarious advisor, Jafar (Johnathan Freeman), that involves Aladdin retrieving a magic lamp located in the bowels of the Cave of Wonders.  Residing in said lamp is Genie (Robin Williams), who possesses “phenomenal cosmic power” capable of doing something as grand as, say, transforming Aladdin into a prince so that he may properly sweep Jasmine off her feet.  But Jafar is still lurking in the shadows, suspicious of this newly-arrived Prince Ali’s limitless power.

It’s all admittedly a very simple story, but in the end, that’s something that ends up working in the movie’s favor.  Aladdin is your basic adventure story, with a romance mixed in for some extra flavor, and it’s because the film is so tightly focused on each aspect that everything works very well.  At a brisk 90 minutes, no scene ever feels wasted, nor do any of them feel like extra ones.  Also, because the story is so simplistic, it in turn helps the movie embody everything we want as kids.  For the boys, there’s a good amount of action and adventure and for the girls, there’s a sweet romance to get swept up in.  Plus, while it’s not anything particularly deep or insightful when you’re all grown up, Aladdin nonetheless provides the message of being true to yourself when trying to impress someone you like, and I still think that’s a valuable message for a little kid.  But like I said, a movie like Aladdin doesn’t need insightful messages in order to work; it’s able to get by on its high entertainment value alone.

Now, why exactly is Aladdin not just my favorite animated Disney film, but my favorite Disney film, period?  Well, that’s easy: of all the staples of this genre, Aladdin contains my favorites in each category across the board.  Let’s start with the characters, specifically the villain and the main supporting character.  As voiced by Johnathan Freeman, Jafar is hands-down an awesome villain.  He’s the kind of guy who never needs to lose his temper, or raise his voice, to communicate his level of cruel cunningness.  We only see Jafar lose it when it feels absolutely necessary, and the rest of the time, he gives off the impression that he’s like this puppet master who’s pulling all the strings from the shadows.  His sinisterly powerful Staff that he carries around with him everywhere he goes only adds to that effect.  Then, on the opposite side of the spectrum, there’s Genie.  And, oh boy, is he great.  The screenwriters of this movie apparently wrote Genie with Robin Williams in mind, and it shows.  Genie is tailor-made for Williams’ manic comic energy, as proven by his ability to imitate anything and anybody, from Arsenio Hall to Jack Nicholson.  You could say that Genie singlehandedly steals the movie from the main hero (I would even say so myself), but in this case, I don’t think that’s a bad thing.  Why?  Because Genie winds up lending the movie a good amount of liveliness, and that’s certainly always welcome in a movie like this.

But let’s talk about the main hero for a bit.  While Aladdin may not be the most interesting of the bunch that Disney has to offer, the romance he strikes up with Princess Jasmine is still my personal favorite to be put on-screen by the studio, right along with Will and Elizabeth (shut up, I like all the Pirates movies).  Even though Aladdin and Jasmine pretty much hit it off right away, when Aladdin returns under his new identity, Prince Ali, along with a new persona, that at least adds a little bit of conflict, and I can certainly appreciate that in a genre that usually offers up easy relationships.

And finally, there’s the songs, and man, do I LOVE these songs.  By now, I know them all by heart; Friend Like Me and Prince Ali, especially.  And even as a guy, I can still commend A Whole New World for its sweeping sense of romanticism.  I do kind of regret that Jafar never gets his own full song, but he at least sings a few lyrics of a darker reprise of one of the previous songs at the end of the Second Act, and it’s a cool moment for him.

Aladdin is classic Disney animation at its finest.  All the ingredients for a successful movie of this sort are here, and all of them are done well.  It also has a very nostalgic feel to it.  Aladdin is a reminder of the glory days of the genre, back when these movies weren’t overflowing with pop culture references and the more annoying brand of childish humor.  When watched today, Aladdin isn’t just a refreshing reminder of all the strengths animated films have to offer, it’s also a nice, nostalgic trip back to more pleasant and, let’s face it, more innocent times.


  1. pgcooper1939 says:

    I haven’t seen Aladdin since I was a wee lad. I loved it as a kid, curious to see if I’d still love it now.

    • moviebuff801 says:

      Like I state in my review, there’s nothing that deep or insightful here to boost the story beyond a fun adventure story, but it’s BECAUSE it’s such a fun adventure story that makes it so timeless. So many childhood memories come back to me whenever I watch it now.

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