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lupercal's Review of Aladdin

rated it: posted: Aug 24, 2004
Reviews: 517 | KF Animation Editor
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Though it's just starting to show its age, 'Aladdin' was Disney's first, and possibly best film of the 90's except for 'Tarzan'.

Flashback to 1991: Disney had spent two decades in the doldrums, though the 80's had shown marked improvement over the 70's. It wasn't until 'Little Mermaid', and 'Beauty and the Beast' at the turn of the 90's, that the New Disney emerged as a really major box office force. Riding the crest of this wave, 'Aladdin' became the first animated film to make $200 million at the box office. To this day, it remains the second highest grossing non-CGI animated film, behind 'The Lion King' . It was the first real animated blockbuster. 13 years later, does that success seem deserved?

For the most part, yes. 'Alladin' is beautifully animated, funny, exciting, well-paced, and if it isn't _quite_ up there with the absolute creme of Disney features, it isn't that far behind.

I would also say that 'Aladdin' was Disney's first 'postmodern' comedy. That is to say it was steeped in irony and pop culture references which were probably quite startling at the time. All those wise-cracking sidekicks with incongruous accents that were regular fixtures in animated films for the rest of the 90's (and beyond: think Donkey in 'Shrek') could arguably be blamed on that damn parrot, too. Whether this is something you'd want to applaud or curse the film for is another matter.

Disney also really pulled a rabbit out of the hat by casting Robin Williams as Genie. He's so good, it's hard to think of him as a supporting character, and Williams' maniacally paced delivery is wonderfully supported by the rapid-fire visual gags which accompany them. Along with the parrot, Genie was something of a first: a totally, hilariously incongruously modern persona slotted into a centuries-old setting.

There is so more to like about 'Aladdin': the Magic Carpet recalls some of the classic character animations of Disney's golden age in the 40's. The emotion conveyed by a character who not only has no voice, but no facial features nothing at all except a rectangular surface which bends in certain ways, is a study in great animation.

On top of that, it's filled with colour, romance, there's rarely a dull moment... it hits its marks most of the time.

So are there any flaws? Yes, though fairly minor ones. perhaps the romantic aspect could have been a little more intense and heartfelt, and the songs fall a little below the standard of the rest of the film. None of them are bad, but few of them are going to end up stuck in your head like some of Disney's real classics either - mind you, I'm not sure when the last time Disney had a song in a film I'd call a 'real classic' anyway.

The only other things working against 'Aladdin' today aren't really the film's fault. The postmodern pop-culture references and wisecracking Brooklyn-accented bird might have been exhilerating at the time, but we've seen it all many times since.

Still, sitting in the middle of Disney's late 80's/early 90's resurrection, and being the only comedy from that period, 'Aladdin' pretty much deserves its reputation, and still looks pretty darn good today, even if the lustre is starting to wear off a bit.

note: I have revised this review. Originally I gave 'Alladin' 3.5 stars, but like I said, the lustre is starting to tarnish a bit.

animated movie Aladdin © Disney
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