Steve’s Wonderful Reviews of Disney: Aladdin

Aladdin

Release Date: November 25th, 1992

Inspiration: “Aladdin and the Magic Lamp” from “One Thousand and One Nights”

Budget: $28 million

Domestic Gross: $217 million

Worldwide Gross: $504 million

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%

IMDB Score: 8.0/10

Storyline (per IMDB): Aladdin is a poor street urchin who spends his time stealing food from the marketplace in the city of Agrabah. His adventures begin when he meets a young girl who happens to be Princess Jasmine, who is forced to be married by her wacky yet estranged father. Aladdin’s luck suddenly changes when he retrieves a magical lamp from the Cave of Wonders. What he unwittingly gets is a fun-loving genie who only wishes to have his freedom. Little do they know is that the Sultan’s sinister advisor Jafar has his own plans for both Aladdin and the lamp.

Pre-Watching Thoughts: We continue on through the 1990s and the Disney Renaissance with another film that was always one of my favorites growing up. I feel like since this film ended up between Beauty and the Beast and our next film that this one doesn’t get the credit it deserves, and I also feel that it sometimes is forgotten by being squeezed between two epic films. As I mentioned, this was another film that was always one of my favorites and we will see if it stands up to the films it is between or if it falls just a bit short.

Voice Cast: As we have seen throughout the last few films, we mainly have a brand new cast providing the voices for this film though we do end up having two returning actors from previous films. The first returning actor is Frank Welker who voices three different characters as he voices Abu the monkey, Rajah the tiger, and the Cave of Wonders in a dynamic showing, and we also see the return of Douglas Seale who voices the Sultan in one of his final appearances. We now move onto the newcomers as we have Scott Weinger who voices Aladdin in what would be his defining role, and unlike the last few films where the actors also sing we split it off here as Brad Kane provides the singing voice. We then have the legendary Robin Williams who voices the Genie in what would become one of his most defining roles in his extensive career, and he also voices the peddler in the beginning of the film as he would also set a precedent of big stars being part of animated films over the next coming decades. We then have Linda Larkin who voices Jasmine in perhaps her defining role while Lea Salonga provides the singing voice, and then we have Jonathan Freeman who voices Jafar in what was the defining moment of his career. We then have another pretty big name that is sometimes overlooked and that is comedian Gilbert Gottfried who voices Iago the parrot in a memorable role, and then we have Jim Cummings who voices Razoul as he would become a staple of Disney over the next two decades. Next, we have Charlie Adler who voices Gazeem as well as several of the merchants in minor roles, and finally we have Corey Burton who voices Prince Achmed in a minor role as he would also become a staple over the next two decades. It will be interesting going forward when we start seeing the big name stars completely taking over while the standard voice actors are relegated to minor roles, and we will also see if this helps the films or maybe even hinders them going forward.

Hero/Prince: For the first time since I started these reviews, we have our first prince who doesn’t start out as a prince and that is Aladdin who is a street urchin just trying to survive in Agrabah while dreaming of a better life. He meets Jasmine while she is in disguise so he is unaware that she is a princess until the guards capture him and she tries to have him released, but he is imprisoned where he meets a disguised Jafar who helps him escape in exchange for helping him find a magic lamp. Aladdin goes into the Cave of Wonders and finds the lamp only for Abu to disobey the rules and they try to escape only for Jafar to kick them back into the collapsing cave, but he still has the lamp and releases the Genie who gives him three wishes. Aladdin wishes to be a prince to impress Jasmine which he finds difficult at first, but she eventually warms to him and decides to marry him until Jafar steals the lamp and reveals Aladdin’s true identity. Jafar banishes him to a frozen wasteland though thanks to the Magic Carpet, he manages to escape and returns to Agrabah where he battles with Jafar and tricks him into becoming a genie which leads him to be imprisoned in his lamp. Aladdin uses his final wish to free Genie and the Sultan allows Jasmine to marry whom she chooses as she picks Aladdin and they live happily ever after. Aladdin is an interesting hero as he is street smart and does what he can to survive, and he believes himself to be unworthy of Jasmine which leads him to use his first wish to become a prince. He struggles with telling Jasmine the truth and at one point relents on his promise to free Genie because he feels he is a fraud without him, but he proves his worth when he saves Jasmine and Genie from Jafar by outsmarting him in the end. He ends up keeping his promise to Genie and gets his happy ending when Jasmine chooses him to be her husband, and he is still one of the most memorable heroes in Disney history and it will be interesting to see how high he ends up being ranked.

Princess: We have some history made here as we have the first official princess of color not counting Tiger Lily from Peter Pan though as we know she is not listed as an “official” princess by Disney, and this princess is also the first non-European princess as well and that is Jasmine. She is the daughter of the Sultan who pressures her to follow the law and be married to a prince by her next birthday, but she is against it as she wants to marry someone she loves and she runs away from the palace under the guise of a street urchin. She encounters Aladdin who saves her from a merchant and they bond until the guards arrest him for kidnapping her even though she demands they release him, and she confronts Jafar who reveals he had Aladdin put to death though she is unaware that Jafar helped him escape to retrieve the lamp. When Aladdin arrives under the guise of Prince Ali, she initially rejects him like the other princes until she realizes he is the same boy she met in the streets though he continues to claim that he is a prince, but then Jafar steals the lamp and steals control from the Sultan as he wants to take Jasmine as his wife though she refuses. Aladdin fights Jafar and at one point Jasmine is trapped in an hourglass though Aladdin eventually saves her, and Jafar is tricked by Aladdin to wish becoming a genie and he is trapped in his lamp before being tossed away by Genie. She is a strong willed princess like some of the others we have seen to this point and she truly believes in love as opposed to just marrying some prince because of a law, and she even goes so far as to run away and disguise herself as a commoner. She has a complex relationship with Aladdin in that she comes to trust him when he saves her, but then she becomes cold to him when she thinks he is a prince and that he is just like the other ones she rejected. She fully rejects Jafar even when he steals power from her father and she helps Aladdin fight him, and when the Sultan changes the law she quickly embraces Aladdin as her true love. Much like Aladdin, it will be pretty interesting to see where she ranks amongst the other princesses especially the bigger names.

Villain: We have been on a pretty solid streak of great and memorable villains in these Disney films and we have another one here in Jafar, the grand vizier to the Sultan though he desires the throne and seeks the lamp to help him while keeping the Sultan under his control by using his scepter to hypnotize him. He has Aladdin arrested after falsely claiming that he kidnapped Jasmine and he sentenced him to death, but then he appears to Aladdin in disguise and helps him escape as they head to the Cave of Wonders. Aladdin finds the lamp and tries to escape the cave only for Jafar to take the lamp and toss him back in, but Abu steals the lamp back and Jafar is too late to realize it as the Cave collapsed completely. When Aladdin arrives to the palace as Prince Ali, Jafar realizes who he is and has him taken out by the guards though Aladdin returns and destroys his scepter which breaks the spell over the Sultan. Jafar escapes and his parrot Iago steals the lamp as he uses his wises to become Sultan and the world’s most powerful sorcerer, and he tries to force Jasmine to marry him until Aladdin fights him and Jafar turns into a snake to crush Aladdin. But Aladdin tricks Jafar by telling him that his powers pale to those of Genie’s and Jafar uses his third wish to turn into a genie, but it backfires on him as he is sucked into his lamp along with Iago and Genie banishes them to the Cave of Wonders. While there are some villains that have some aspects to them that make them somewhat likeable, Jafar has none of those traits as all he cares about is ruling Agrabah and he has no qualms as to what he has to do to achieve that. From hypnotizing the Sultan to trying to have Jasmine marry him to banishing Aladdin to a frozen wasteland, he does anything he can to achieve his goals and he comes close when he steals the lamp and has Genie make him Sultan and a powerful sorcerer. But like most villains, his overconfidence ultimately leads to his downfall as he is tricked into becoming a genie and is sealed in his lamp though it would not be the last of him, and he is still remembered as being one of the best villains in the Disney canon and will probably rank pretty high up.

Other Characters: I have mentioned this a couple of times, but in watching these films some of them feel like they have more characters than they actually do and this is one of them as I always felt like there were more characters than there actually are. In fairness, almost all of them have a major role in the film and at the top is Genie who is found by Aladdin and he helps him get close to Jasmine, but then the lamp is stolen by Jafar and Genie is forced to grant his wishes until Aladdin trick Jafar into using his third wish to become a genie and he is banished to the Cave of Wonders. Aladdin uses his last wish to set Genie free and he decides to leave Agrabah as he goes to see the world, and he is still probably one of the most memorable characters ever though part of that is thanks to Robin Williams’ performance. We then have Aladdin’s sidekick Abu the monkey who lives with him and steals with him as they fight to survive, and he steals the lamp from Jafar when the Cave of Wonders collapses and Genie turns him into an elephant while making Aladdin into a prince. After Jafar takes the lamp back, he first turns Abu back into a monkey and at one point is turned into a toy, but he returns to a monkey when Aladdin saves everyone and he remains at his side to the end. We then have the magic carpet that Aladdin and Abu find in the Cave of Wonders and he stays with them when they escape with Genie, and he helps them fight Jafar who has him unraveled though he is restored in the end. Next, we have Iago the parrot who is Jafar’s associate and he is very ill-tempered as he detests being fed crackers from the Sultan, and when Jafar is sucked back into the lamp Iago tries to escape only for Jafar to grab him and he is pulled in as well. Next, we have Rajah the tiger who is Jasmine’s friend and he attacks the various suitors as he is also cold to Aladdin, and he tries to help Jasmine when Jafar takes over only for Jafar to turn him into a kitten. We then have the Sultan who wants to see Jasmine married though she wishes to follow her own path, and he is kept under Jafar’s control due to his scepter until Aladdin destroys it and the Sultan has Jafar arrested though he escapes. Jafar then takes control from the Sultan thanks to Genie and Iago tortures the Sultan until Aladdin saves them, and the Sultan allows Jasmine to marry whom she chooses and she picks Aladdin which the Sultan gives his blessing too. We then have some minor characters like Razoul who is the Captain of the Guard and he is obsessed with catching Aladdin, and he also appears to be under Jafar’s control as he has Aladdin tossed into the ocean under Jafar’s orders. We then have the Cave of Wonders that houses the lamp and he tells Jafar that only the “diamond in the rough” can enter which is revealed to be Aladdin, and the Cave collapses onto itself after Abu touches a ruby which was against the rules. We then have Gazeem the thief that gives Jafar the other half of the pendent that summons the Cave of Wonders, and Jafar has him go into the Cave though the Cave ends up eating him because he is not the chosen one. We then have a brief appearance by Prince Achmed who has an altercation with Aladdin before entering the palace, but he is rejected by Jasmine and attacked by Rajah as he is left storming off, and finally we have the various merchants and citizens of Agrabah that we see throughout the film. We will see if this pattern continues on through the future films where some characters are important while others aren’t.

Songs: Much like Beauty and the Beast and the Little Mermaid, this film was made like it could be transitioned over to the Broadway stage which it would eventually do down the line. While this one doesn’t feel as obvious as the previous two films, there were still a feeling that this could also work as a stage show with the songs that are in it. The first song we have is the opening song “Arabian Nights” sung by the peddler and it is a solid song to set the mood for the film, and then we have “One Jump Ahead” sung by Aladdin as he avoids the guards after stealing a loaf of bread and it is a fun song to show who Aladdin is. Next, we have one of the iconic songs from the film “Friend Like Me” sung by Genie and it is one of the biggest numbers in Disney history next to “Be Our Guest”, and then we have “Prince Ali” also sung by Genie as he puts Aladdin over to everyone in a good song. Finally, we have the centerpiece song of the film “A Whole New World” sung by Aladdin and Jasmine as they travel the world and start to fall in love, and it remains probably one of the best love ballads in Disney history. While probably not as memorable as Beauty and the Beast or even the Little Mermaid, the songs are still very good and work well for the film as they are still considered some of the best songs in the Disney film canon.

Plot: It is funny to think that the story of Aladdin and the magic lamp is one of the centerpiece stories of “One Thousand and One Nights”, but amazingly enough it was not included in the original Arabic version along with other known stories like the story of Sinbad and also Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves. Even more crazy to learn is that Aladdin was added to collection of tales by a Frenchman, and the tale would actually have no ties to any Arabic folklore even though it would become a part of the folklore. In this story, Aladdin is a street rat who has to survive in Agrabah as he longs for a better life, and he inadvertently meets Princess Jasmine while she is roaming the marketplace in disguise and the guards arrest him. While in jail, he meets the Grand vizier Jafar who is disguised as an old man and he helps Aladdin escape, and he takes Aladdin to the Cave of Wonders to retrieve a magic lamp though the Cave collapses with Aladdin still in it. He releases a Genie from the lamp who grants him three wishes and Aladdin wishes to become a prince since only a prince can marry Jasmine, and she is suspicious of him though they start to fall in love until Jafar manages to steal the lamp. He becomes Sultan and a powerful sorcerer as he banishes Aladdin to a frozen wasteland while trying to force Jasmine to marry him, and Aladdin returns and fights Jafar before tricking him into using his third wish to become a genie only to be imprisoned in his own lamp and shot away. Aladdin uses his third wish to set Genie free and after seeing the love Jasmine has for Aladdin, the Sultan allows Jasmine to marry him and they live happily ever after. It does have to be said that they would adapt an Arabic folklore tale after mainly using European folklore tales, and it was a good step forward and you figured that it wouldn’t be long before other countries or continents’ folklore would be adapted into films.

Random Watching Thoughts: So first fun fact of the movie, in the song “Arabian Nights” one of the original lyrics was “Where they cut off your ear if they don’t like your face” which was changed to “Where it’s flat and immerse, and the heat is intense”; The palace is massive; That camel must’ve been walking a long time if he just collapsed so easily when they stopped; I believe this is the first time that a character breaks the fourth wall and addresses the audience; Agrabah is located on the Jordan river which would put it either in Jordan or Syria or potentially the West Bank; So he is selling a hookah that also serves as a coffeemaker and makes julienne fries; He says it won’t break while he’s banging it against the wood attempting to break it; Dead Sea Tupperware; It would’ve been nice to know how the peddler ended up with the lamp; Gazeem doesn’t seem like the kind of thief that would be able to slit a few throats; The Cave of Wonders is quite the impressive site; Again, it is weird when we have some animals that can talk like Iago but then we have some that don’t like Abu and Rajah; Call me crazy, but something tells me Gazeem is not the diamond in the rough; I love the false sense of security as Gazeem thinks he’s in the clear, but the Cave is like “nope” as he eats him; Jafar is obviously the more level-headed of the two as Iago is ready to give up quickly; Aladdin is amazed that they would cut his hands off because he stole a loaf of bread, but that applies to anything that is stolen; He says you’re only in trouble if you get caught and he gets grabbed a second later; The guard gets his pants pulled down and instead of just pulling them back up, he uses a fish as a pair of pants; If they are this adamant in catching Aladdin for a loaf of bread, could you imagine if he stole something valuable?; That guy just casually sleeping on a bed of nails; That sword swallower had no problem swallowing the sword, but gags when Abu pulls it out abruptly; The guards are in fear of Abu when he swings the sword at them until they realize they have swords as well; Crazy Hakim’s Discount Fertilizer; Aladdin and Abu must be so poor that they consider a loaf of bread a feast; Abu begrudgingly gives those kids his half and is upset until they start tickling him; The way that one villager mentions another suitor for the princess makes it seem like they have done this way too many times; That prince was quite the dick if he was about to whip two kids; A horse with two rear ends; Aladdin says that he doesn’t have fleas while he scratches his head; I don’t know when this film takes place, but I highly doubt that the Middle East countries had underwear with hearts on them; The Sultan says that the law is Jasmine must marry a prince by her next birthday, but we never actually learn how old she is; Jasmine is a princess, so I think she will be just fine on her own if she wants; How many rulers have a miniature model of the city that they rule?; I looked it up because you always hear the expression “Polly want a cracker” and I wanted to know if parrots can actually eat crackers, and apparently they can as long as they are not too salty; I wonder how long the Sultan has been getting brainwashed by Jafar because you would think he’d realize something is wrong whenever Jafar points his staff at him; Did Iago really keep that cracker in his mouth for so long without gagging?; Jasmine must be the first princess to run away so she can live her own life; Those watermelons must be small ones if Abu is able to lift one up fairly easily; You would think one of the villagers would’ve recognized Jasmine unless she doesn’t go out in public that often; Have the vendors been stolen from that often that they have their own swords?; Jasmine caught on pretty quick as she was praising Abu and calling a camel “Doctor”; Iago asks if they can wait for a real storm, but how many storms really come through there?; Quite the difference as Aladdin dreams of being rich and living in the palace while Jasmine wants to get away from it; It took the guards this long to be able to find Aladdin’s hideout?; Even though his orders came from Jafar, you would think Jasmine would have more authority being the Princess; Iago was so strained just getting through the door yet he quickly recovered to ask how Jasmine took the news; Aladdin thinks that Jasmine thought he was stupid yet she tried to have him set free; That was a fast turnaround for Jafar to get in that disguise and make his way into the dungeon without being noticed; So Jafar’s version of the Golden Rule is whoever has the gold makes the rules; The Cave knew immediately that Aladdin was the one to enter; I wonder how all that treasure ended up in the Cave; The carpet must not see many visitors if he is playing around with Abu like that; Of course the carpet isn’t going to bite; If the Cave really wanted to make it a challenge, it would’ve hidden the lamp amongst the other treasure especially since they couldn’t touch anything else but the lamp. Of course there would be that one jewel there to tempt Abu; What was Jafar thinking when the Cave said that they wouldn’t see the light of day again because he knew he might not get the lamp?; This sequence of them flying through the cave on the carpet is still one of the best sequences in Disney history; Aladdin should’ve known something was up when the old man told him to give him the lamp first instead of helping him; Can the Cave never be accessed again?; Jafar was so happy to have the lamp to find out it had been swiped from him and all his hard work was for naught; Abu is ready to fight even though they are trapped; Such a dramatic buildup to Genie’s arrival and it ends on a bland note; Genie must’ve been the easiest character to write dialogue for since it was mostly ad-lib and improv; The staff estimated that Robin Williams did 52 impersonations and references, and I wonder if anyone actually went through and marked down everything; Genie hasn’t seen the carpet in 10 millennia if he’s been trapped for 10,000 years; I wonder how hard it was for the other actors if they were recording alongside Williams with how fast he was going; When did it begin that a genie could only give his master three wishes?; Scheherazade was the name of the storyteller in “One Thousand and One Nights”; I don’t think it gets talked about enough, but Robin Williams was a pretty good singer; Genie would have his own applause sign behind him; He has three rules to go with the three wishes; Him saying that he doesn’t like bringing people back from the dead means he’s done it at some point which means one of his former masters broke that rule; I know Jafar is the Grand vizier, but again he shouldn’t have the authority to have prisoners executed; Would it even be legal for the Grand vizier to marry the Princess and become Sultan?; That was pretty smart by Aladdin to trick Genie into getting them out of the cave without using a wish; I wonder if this was the first time they added the narrative of a genie being a prisoner and his master could give him his freedom; Pinocchio reference; Royal Recipes cookbook; Sebastian appearance; So Aladdin’s outfit is too third century according to Genie; So Abu can make both elephant noises and monkey noises as well as climb a tree with ease; It is a bit weird that they found this random oasis in the middle of the desert; Jafar laid out quite the proclamation and only read off a few lines of it; Does the Sultan just have random crackers in his outfit that he can just pull out to give to Iago?; The Sultan must have some control if while he was being hypnotized, he broke it briefly to bring up Jafar’s age; Genie whipped up quite the caravan for Aladdin’s grand entrance to the palace; Prince Ali Ababwa; It was so catchy that even Iago was dancing for a bit; I don’t know how smart it was having the Sultan ride the magic carpet; The Sultan says he’s an excellent judge of character yet he can’t figure out Jafar’s ulterior motives; How many more bananas is Abu going to go through until he realizes he can’t open them?; Genie goes from a Rodney Dangerfield impersonation to a Jack Nicholson impersonation complete with the sunglasses; Another interesting note is when Aladdin says “Good kitty, take off”, some believed that he actually said “Good teenagers, take your clothes off”; Why would Genie think that “punctual” would be a compliment?; He’s lucky the carpet didn’t just take off or he would’ve met his end; That moment that Jasmine realized Aladdin was who she thought he was when he asked if she trusted him; So on their carpet ride, Aladdin and Jasmine visited Egypt where the Great Sphinx was being erected, Athens, and China just in time for Chinese New Year; Aladdin should’ve realized the gig was up when Jasmine brought up Abu; Aladdin turns it around on Jasmine about royalty dressing up in disguise to go out in public; Aladdin says things are turning around for him right as he is captured by the guards and Jafar; The body of water he was tossed into had to have been the Jordan river; Genie comes out of the lamp and decides to take a bath until he sees Aladdin in trouble; Why did Genie have to turn into a submarine to save Aladdin?; Jafar thinks a woman being speechless is a fine quality for a wife; Of course Jafar would have something to aid in his escape from the guards; The Sultan is so complimentary of Aladdin not realizing that he is lying about being a prince; Iago had a framed picture of himself and Jafar in his birdcage; Iago tells Jafar to get a grip and Jafar chokes him; Genie actually has a script of the movie on his persons; Poor Genie believes that he will never be free now; Iago plays a good flamingo if the one became enamored with him; Iago is so confident that Jafar will rate him an 11; It is funny that Jasmine actually needed Aladdin to come to her when Iago was pretending to be her; Genie even pulls out a Broadway playbook and announces that Jafar will be playing the role of Aladdin; It is weird the magic removed the Sultan’s clothes when they weren’t put on Jafar; Sultan Vile Betrayer; I love how Iago had his own little Sultan turban; It wasn’t enough to be named Sultan that Jafar had to have the palace be moved onto the cliffside; Sultan was ready to bow to Jafar until Jasmine spoke up; Reading up on the film, there was a song called “My Finest Hour” that Jafar sings during these scenes that was ultimately cut from the film; Why did he even have the Sultan outfit on when he just reverted back to his original outfit when he was turned into a sorcerer?; I love how Jafar actually swung his staff like a golf club as he sent the tower away; We never know where Aladdin lands, but obviously it had to be in Siberia or closer to the North Pole; How is Aladdin not suffering from instant hypothermia given that he’s in a vest and barefoot?; They are digging to free the carpet not thinking that it might cause the tower to roll towards them; They are lucky there was a window for them to slide into to avoid being crushed; Iago was too keen to stuff the crackers in the Sultan’s mouth repeatedly; I know they were on a magic carpet, but that was a quick trip for Aladdin and Abu to get back to Agrabah; Jafar is willing to break the rules to make Jasmine fall in love with him; Jasmine is working hard to keep Jafar distracted so Aladdin could get the lamp; I believe that is the first time that the villain actually gets a kiss from the princess; Jafar throwing numerous puns out to keep everyone from getting the lamp; How did Jafar survive getting stabbed by that sword?; The moment that Jafar’s downfall begins when he wants to be as powerful as Genie by becoming a genie himself; Again, a bit anticlimactic with how Jafar loses, but it does leave the door open for a potential sequel; Of course Rajah would jump into the Sultan’s arms right as he is restored; Genie winds up Jafar’s lamp for a big throw only to then flick it away; Genie is willing to sacrifice his freedom so Aladdin could get the girl, but Aladdin does the right thing and keeps his word by freeing Genie; The Sultan waited this long to change the law so Jasmine can marry whom she wants; Genie wearing a Goofy hat; Genie gets one last joke in right at the end.

Overall Thoughts: Overall, this was a tremendous film that I still to this day doesn’t get the credit that it deserves. I mentioned earlier that being sandwiched between Beauty and the Beast and the next film has caused it to fly under the radar, and one might argue that this is even better than Beauty and the Beast though I will make that decision at the end of the line. The 1990s have been a great decade for Disney as the films were killing it in the box office as well as on TV, and Walt Disney World was continuing to grow while they also opened their first theme park in Europe. We will see how things continue to play out and as for this film, it is a great film and we are 2-for-2 on perfect films as we will see if we can make it a trifecta with the next film.

Final Grade: 10/10

Author: Steve Riddle

I have been a wrestling fan since 1993 and that is probably my biggest love, with movies being a close second due in part to being employed at a movie theater for over 9 years.