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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Aladdin (1992)

#1 - 1992 Box Office: Gross $217,350,219

It is not what is outside, but what is inside that counts.
Ron Clements and John Musker co-wrote and directed Aladdin, a Disney adaptation of a Middle-Eastern folk tale from "One Thousand and One Nights."  This story tells the tale of street rat Aladdin (Scott Weigner/Brad Kane) who discovers a magic lamp and a Genie (Robin Williams) who can grant him three wishes.  He uses these wishes in an attempt to get closer to Jasmine (Linda Larkin/Lea Salonga), Agrabah's princess whom he met in the marketplace.  She was in the marketplace dressed as a commoner in an attempt to escape the burden of finding her own Prince Charming of a husband.  Meanwhile, the Grand Vizier, Jafar (Jonathan Freeman) will stop at nothing to stop Aladdin, marry the Princess himself and take over Agrabah.  Jafar's comic sidekick is a loudmouth parrot, Iago (loudmouth Gilbert Gottfried) while Aladdin is helped by his pet monkey, Abu (Frank Welker).  Wishes, songs and magic carpet rides are mixed with mistaken identities, lies and betrayals.

Trivia (mostly courtesy of the IMDb)
  • Aladdin became the 14th film to ever gross more than $200,000,000, and the 1st animated film to do so, spawning two direct to video sequels (The Return of Jafar and Aladdin and the King of Thieves) and a TV Series
  • When the film was first released on VHS in October 1993, it sold over 10.8 million copies in its first week and went on to sell over 25 million in total. This record stood for only two years when it was beaten by the release of The Lion King
  • Originally, the peddler who introduces the movie would be revealed to be the Genie at the end of the film—hence the fact Robin Williams voiced him, too. Notice the similarities in the design of the two, especially the eyebrows, the beard and the four-fingered hands (all the other human characters have five fingers)
  • Because Robin Williams ad-libbed so many of his lines, the script was turned down for a Best Adapted Screenplay Academy Award nomination 
  • Scheduling conflicts with "Star Trek: The Next Generation" forced Patrick Stewart to turn down the role of Jafar. He has said in interviews that this is one of his biggest regrets
  • The pile of toy animals the Sultan plays with features a Beast from Beauty and the Beast

♪ Unbelievable sights / Indescribable feeling ♪
Aladdin has long been my favorite Disney film.  I remember renting the VHS tape when it first came out and I probably watched it every day, sometimes twice a day, during the week we had it.  I rewound the tape to listen to the songs, trying to learn all the words (a difficult task for an 11-year-old who had never heard of "Scheherazade" or "coterie," but I made up my own rhyming filler words).  Alan Menken, Tim Rice & Howard Ashman wrote some fantastic songs, including the Academy-Award-winning Best Original Song "A Whole New World," nominee "Friend Like Me" and my personal favorite "One Jump Ahead."  But it's not just the songs that makes this a great film... The animation is outstanding; Disney had been experimenting with rendering fully 3D CGI backgrounds in which the 2D characters could move about.  Remember that outstanding "3D" sequence that included a 360ยบ camera spin around the ballroom during "Beauty and the Beast?"  Well, I believe the animators mastered that mix of traditional animation and 3D CGI rendering here, and rewatching the film was a delight—kind of wish I had it in Bluray.  I missed all the other late-90s' films Disney produced (Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Mulan & Tarzan) and I'm sure the animation only got better (unless any were fully CGI like recent films Princess & the Frog and Tangled), but I doubt any of them had as good a story and mix of songs as Aladdin.

Ponch's Rating:

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