Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Aladdin


The 90s were the age of the animated Disney renaissance. The preceding decade or so had brought us mildly disappointing and unmemorable cartoon offerings like The Black Cauldron and The Great Mouse Detective, none of which held any sort of long-standing appeal. Following the release of 1989's The Little Mermaid, however, Disney animation began changing its tune. Literally, in fact. With catchy, catchy songs.

While it had seemed the Disney glow was fading under the growth of rival animation studios, by the late 80s they opted for a different route to success. While their animated films were still primarily marketed at children, they soon began weaving in more adult themes and nuances, seeking to appeal to a wider range of movie-goers. Sure, it doesn't quite seem so envelope-pushing when cartoon woodland creatures today are making all sorts of innuendo-laced jokes, but at the time films like Who Framed Roger Rabbit were pretty innovative in their quest to lure in adult viewers.

Riding high on the coattails of 1991's spectacularly well-received Beauty and the Beast, Disney Animation Studios released Aladdin in 1992. Based on a story from the 18th century Arabian nights, Aladdin was strong in the Disney tradition of completing reformulating the story that served as the basis of their plot. For a film to be properly Disney-ified, you see, it's necessary to strip down the original plot to a few major points and then whitewash over the rest of the film with well-placed jokes and musical numbers.



Some of these changes were definitely a positive step, especially for poor attention-spanned American audiences. If they'd stuck to the original story they'd be saddled with a Disney princess named Badroulbadour. I much prefer Jasmine, don't you? Even if she was a little slutty-looking in her harem pants and midriff-baring off-the shoulder bra thing she was prone to wear. I guess it's a step down in exposure from a sea-shell bra at the very least.

Aladdin featured a teenage main character, a sort of animated teen hearthrob for the under-12 set. Aladdin was probably not a role model by any definition of terms, as a street kid swiping loaves of bread at the market, though admittedly while acting cavalier and scantily clad. Although he's an orphan, Aladdin still seems to have the heart of gold credential necessary to get his resume for hero past the big guys at Disney. He's also a hell of a spontaneous singer while dodging the heavy hand of the law.



Meanwhile, the tyrannical Jafar and his squawky Gilbert Godfrey-voiced parrot companion Iago are seeking the "Diamond in the Rough" to unlock the treasure of the Cave of Wonders. Just as our pal Aladdin is getting cozy with princess-in-disguise Jasmine around the marketplace, he's captured by Jafar. Jasmine is strong-willed and pseudo-feminist in the way that's only possible while advocating for her rights while donning a skimpy outfit, and she demands for Aladdin's release. Jafar wants him for his own means to a genie-filled lamp end, tells her he's dead, and continues with his evil plan in typical Disney villain fashion.

Jafar (also in disguise) convinces Aladdin to go into the Cave of Wonders, but warns him that he must not touch anything else. This is a classic case of kid-in-a-candy-store as Aladdin and monkey sidekick Abu enter the jewel-encrusted, gold dripping, treasure chest overflowing cavern. With the help of a renegade magic carpet, Aladdin and Abu are saved and even manage to escape with the coveted lamp. From the lamp, of course, is our Genie, played by Robin Williams. Observe, some of his admittedly humorous but somewhat worrying insanity:



The genie wants nothing more than to be free, but for the moment he's at Aladdin beck and call. Aladdin wishes to be a prince and the genie turns him into Prince Ali fabulous he Ali Ababwa. Catchy, right? Abu gets the star treatment as well as his royal elephant, and off they go to the palace to get in line as a potential suitor for the illustrious Jasmine.

Jasmine's father, the Sultan, had been more or less under Jafar's spell and was this close to betrothing his one and only daughter to the tyrant when the Prince Ali parade came to town:



Jasmine, of course, refuses to be bought and sold. Like all girls do when they're in a huff, she retreats to go chill out with her tiger by the fountain. Though this is clearly the point where he should just tell her the truth and vie for her hand as a peasant, that would make an awfully short Disney movie. Plus, we've got more stuff to sing. Aladdin comes to Jasmine's window offering a magic carpet ride. Wink wink, nudge nudge. There was actually mild controversy surrounding this scene, as some people heard Aladdin whisper something about taking off her clothes. To say nothing of the "magic carpet" double entendre. Touche, conservative America.



They kiss, and just as things are working out and the lovebirds seem to be in the home stretch, Jafar smacks them with a pretty serious roadblock. Jasmine and the Sultan are hypnotized, Aladdin is thrown in the ocean, yada yada yada, Genie saves the day and we're back in the game.

Of course, it's not the home stretch yet. Aladdin had promised to use his final wish to set the genie free, but he starts getting greedy toward the end. Jafar's crazy bird sidekick kidnaps the lamp and once in Jafar's posession, the genie is forced to serve this crackpot tyrant. All sorts of crazy stuff goes down. Abu is a toy. Jasmine gets submerged in slowly ticking hourglass sand. The carpet is reduced to a ball of yarn.

Luckily Jafar isn't all that bright, and Genie tricks him into wishing himself in Genie servitude with a handy lamp encasement. Aladdin comes clean, wishes the genie to be set free, and Jasmine is allowed to marry Aladdin. We all live happily ever after. All together now: aww.

Recounting that just now, I realize it's a pretty complex plotline. The movie was more than just kid's entertainment, it was an actual movie that happened to be animated. It had action, adventure, danger, and plenty of singing and dancing. What more can you ask for?*



*Except for Steve from Full House to be the voice of Aladdin. Oh yeah, because you got that too! Schwing!

23 comments:

Nic said...

To be honest I never really liked Disney films. There were two exceptions to this: Robin Hood and The Little Mermaid.

Then I met them both when I went to Disneyworld Florida 3 years ago. That was the highlight of the day. Haha.

Lauren From Texas said...

Aladdin was HOT. End of discussion.

Mrs. Newlywed said...

This singlehandedly changed my opinion of boys forever.

Aladdin? Huge crush. Especially because he sang and had a magic carpet. Those were dealmakers for me.

Lil' Woman said...

After we were done choir practice at church when I was little we would always reenact the film....somehow I always ended up being Abu : )

for the love of pictures said...

"Aladdin" was a wonderful movie. The characters and music were great, and come on Robin Williams as Genie? You just can't go wrong there :)

Practically Perfect... said...

I loved "Aladdin" - my sister and I had the dolls and the magic carpet, which if I remember correctly had some sort of box underneath that you could push a button on and made noises, ha ha! We loved pretending to be Jasmine. I'm such a nerd :-p

Dream Sequins said...

Jasmine could like totally be a fashion blogger. Those harem pants! That cropped top! The long flowy hair! TDF.

Badass Geek said...

Aladdin was the first movie I saw in theaters.

Carol said...

Loved all the Disney films! And Aladdin had a great sound track!

Amber (Girl with the red hair) said...

I've always loved Aladdin! Definitely one of my favourite disney films!

Annie said...

i love all disney movies!
my mom used to run a few disney stores in malls! so yeah...
my dad's favorite line from this movie that he often says "who disturbes my slumber", ha!

there are some "secret" sayings in this movie....

Heather Taylor said...

I watched Aladdin this weekend with my roommate (it was on ABC Family) and I think that the older you are watching it, you get a lot more of the jokes that the Genie makes and some of the people he parodies.
Oh yes, and ya gotta love that subliminal message on the balcony. I don't care what Disney claims, it still sounds like 'good teenagers take off their clothes' to me.

Lisa said...

Aladdin is still one of my fav Disney movies! I loved all of the ones from the '90s. I still remember all the words to the songs!

Love your blog!

Laura said...

Oh how I loved Aladdin and I can still sing the entire theme song while they flew away on the magic carpet. Great post, again! Come stop by today and tell me what's in your makeup bag?

lovelila said...

Sad that The Great Mouse Detective is so forgettable because it's one of my favorites! On the topic at hand, Aladdin is also one of my favorites, definitely in my top 3! I remember seeing this in theaters when I was 5... granted, I only remember the end when genie was the moon, but hey, it still counts!

mollymouse said...

Just re-watched Aladdin recently and I enjoyed it so much more! I don't think I got all of Robin William's jokes when I was three... lol.

ark said...

Hey, love your blog. Just discovered it. And I LOVE Aladdin. I miss the "golden age" of Disney movies in the 90's. I mean you've got B&B, Aladdin, Hunchback, Pocahontas and my fave, The Lion King! Go Alan Menken. Now they pretty much all suck unfortunately. :(

New Girl on Post said...

The 80's were a crappy time for Disney movies. I HATED Great Mouse Detective. It was so dark. 90's films were so much better.

Andhari said...

Jasmine is one of my favorite princesses :) The story is less cheesier than most disney princess stories too, what's not to love?

Jenny.Lee said...

I was all about this movie!!!!

Janna said...

Aladdin remains the only film I've seen in movie theaters more than twice.

strike said...

I liked this movie very much..This movie is very interesting ..i downloaded this movie from the internet...you can also download aladdin from the internet....

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