Starring: Robin Williams, Scott Weinger, Linda Larkin
Director: Ron Clements, John Musker
Running Time: 90 mins
Aladdin is an American film about an Arabian ‘street rat’ who, upon discovering a magic lamp that contains a genie who will grant him three wishes, moves to marry a beautiful princess.
This is one of the most fondly-remembered editions of the 1990s Disney Renaissance, but it isn’t actually all that it’s cracked up to be. Yes, it has an absolutely brilliant voice performance by Robin Williams as the Genie, but apart from that, it doesn’t have good enough comedy, songs, emotion or unpredictability to be a top quality movie, just a generic Disney flick.
But before we get into its issues, let’s talk about the man who absolutely shines in this film: Robin Williams. His performance as the Genie is astonishing, bringing so much energy and life to the relatively generic plot. Although his character isn’t the main one, it’s never as much fun when the Genie isn’t on screen, but whenever he does appear, it’s wonderful, because you get so much madness and laughter all in one quick burst that you can’t help but love it.
It’s also another role which works Williams’ brilliant impressions in perfectly, as the Genie morphs into different forms imitating all sorts of celebrities from Robert De Niro to Jack Nicholson and so many in between, and that’s just further evidence to how fantastically manic and funny he is in this film, bringing so much life that it just didn’t have before.
Honestly, without Williams, this film really would have been lost. The plot starts off in simple fashion, with Aladdin’s chance encounter with Princess Jasmine that leads to his powerful love for her. That’s all fine, and with a few decent songs thrown in there, it’s not a terrible start.
The problems mainly come about in the latter part of the film. After playing the brilliant number ‘A Whole New World’, this film completely loses its way, as it moves into a rushed and convoluted climax that isn’t really all that fun to watch, full of frustrating plot holes (mainly regarding ownership of the Genie), a pretty generic and one-dimensional villain in Jafar, and no real intense emotion that makes you want to will Aladdin on to save the day.
Finally, the comedy in this film is generally pretty terrible. Of course, with the exception of the Genie, characters like Abu, the Magic Carpet, Iago and the Sultan never provide any good laughs, and the comedy that they give Aladdin and Jasmine is just as lukewarm, making for an overall much less enjoyable Disney film than you’d normally expect.
On the whole, Aladdin is a disappointingly generic Disney film, with little excitement and emotion to go with any decent comedy or sense of fun, but Robin Williams’ incredible turn as the Genie lifts it from the depths and single-handedly makes it an enjoyable watch.