G. If you were animated in the '90s and you weren't Cool World, you were G. It was a simpler time back then. You could have kids movies where the protagonist is almost stabbed to death by an old man with a knife before being dropped into a giant cavern flowing with lava. These are things that were allowed. Also, people turning into giant snakes and weird interpretations of sharia law could be in a G-rated film. Simpler times. Simpler times. G.
DIRECTORS: Ron Clements and John Musker
I'm going to say it. Aladdin might be my favorite Disney MUSICAL. Yeah, we went there. It's never going have the hilarity and hipster cred of an Emperor's New Groove. But without resorting to cheap tricks and actually being a vulnerable film, Aladdin is probably the best animated musical that Disney has come out with. Sure, I was nine when it came out in theaters. Yeah, nostalgia may play a pretty heavy card here. Sure, I didn't love The Lion King. Aladdin hits a lot of sweet spots for me. I know it so well that I'm starting to see the Matrix code behind it.
When I say that I see the Matrix code running behind it, I keep spotting some really weird stuff in the movie. It's still a great movie and I want everyone to agree with me that it is the best movie. In fact, why don't we all just do that right now? Wherever you are, it can be quiet or loud. Just say, "Aladdin is the best Disney musical." You might not believe it now, but when you say it, there's a chance you might like it all the more. I'll wait. You good? I certainly hope you did it because you just did something that made you right. Aladdin is great, but I did say that there are some real weird things going on in Aladdin. Only one thing detracts from the film itself because it honestly rattles me how bad the lyric is. You've probably heard it so many times that it doesn't even affect you. It's just such a forced rhyme. Yeah, if you shut off your brain, it kind of fits. The lyric is, "One skip ahead of my doom. Next time, gonna use a nom de plume." Boo. That lyric is awful. Yeah, I get it. People make aliases to avoid getting in trouble with the police. I don't think that's the problem you were having, Aladdin. It's not like Agrabah has warrants out for your arrest without a photo. "Goes by Aladdin" or something. You stole a loaf of bread. People caught you stealing a loaf of bread. A nom de plume would not help you in this situation. Also, people seem to know your face pretty well. Imagine that Aladdin adopted a false name. Just because it was the first name that popped into my head, let's choose recently controversial Simpsons voice actor Hank Azaria. If Aladdin started calling himself "Hank Azaria", his life wouldn't be much different. I think he'd still be a "one-man rise in crime." Aladdin is one of those stories that really perpetuates the noble criminal...and I'm good with that. Very few people can pull off Robin Hood as well as Robin Hood. I think that Aladdin pulls it off quite nicely. Yeah, Robin Hood is flawed, but is flaw is excess pride. Aladdin has a bit more moral complexity, but that's kind of what makes him somewhat interesting.
The biggest issue that I've had with recent viewings of Aladdin (I watched it many times when my oldest was really young because she was obsessed) is the all-over-the-place writing of Jasmine. Jasmine, for her credit, is probably one of the more self-actualized princesses of the pre-Pixar Disney films. She contributes to fights. She thinks on her feet. She's not exactly a pushover. But I can't even say that consistently. There are a bunch of moments where Jasmine completely changes her personality. When Jasmine leaves the palace, she goes wandering around the marketplace. A prince and the pauper situation happens and Jasmine apparently has no idea how money works. She's never had to spend money, so if you don't think about it, it kind of plays out. But this has started bothering me lately. Jasmine steals an apple for a little boy. When she walks away, the man is about to cut off her hand. Note: Aladdin, without the rose-colored glasses of the 1990s, seems a bit culturally insensitive. Robin Williams probably didn't help. Anyway, when the shop owner confronts her, he is about to cut off her hand. She is confused about what is going on. He accuses her of stealing and she protests. She has to know what stealing is. She is able to respond to the accusation. Also, isn't it a bit weird that someone who is completely wealthy lacks any degree of education. I'm not saying that Jasmine's face is on the money, but there's a greater chance that her face is on money than anyone bears to think about. Also, the palace looks down on Agrabah. Does she not notice that everyone else doesn't have a palace? Jasmine, while probably naive to certain cultural norms, was not raised in the room from Room. (You describe that setting better. I dare you.) She should know what money is. Also, she's completely flummoxed by this situation. She's speechless when Aladdin saves her. Then, she turns on her master improv skills. Someone just had to throw out a suggestion and she's completely on board? There are times throughout this movie where Jasmine's awareness and coolness under pressure just turn on and off. I love that Jasmine is powerful. But she needed to be consistently powerful. It's like she only gets her intelligence when Aladdin is around. And I get it, there's a suspension of disbelief. There's the times when she can't see that Prince Ali is Aladdin. Listen, I'm a devoted defender that Clark Kent can't be identified through glasses because his personality is so different from that of Superman's. But Aladdin still kind of acts like Aladdin when he's Prince Ali. I'm also trying to piece together a timeline. It had to be from a day to, at most, a week between Aladdin and Jasmine's adventure in Agrabah. She shouldn't be thinking that he looked familiar. She should be saying that he looked identical. Jasmine's intellect is reflective of what the story needs and it gets under my skin.
The next thing is me making up my own rules about wishes. You can easily fight this. I won't even protest. The end of the movie: Aladdin looks like Aladdin. The big character moment asks whether Aladdin will do the self-sacrificial thing and free the genie or ask the genie to make him a prince again. The genie has already made the moral choice. He has made peace with the fact that he will be held by the bonds of his servitude for the rest of time. He's ready to turn Aladdin back into a prince, but Aladdin makes the sacrifice to free the genie. In terms of character development, perfect. In terms of me being a big nerd, I have to put up my finger, fix my glasses, and call "Wait a minute." Yeah, it's the right thing to do, but when did Aladdin's wish get undone. Can a wish become undone? Jafar, as a sorcerer, reveals to everyone that Aladdin was just a street rat. Great, but the wish wasn't, "I want to look like a prince." The wish was, "I want to be a prince." Let's play devil's advocate because I don't think that this was what the genie was thinking. Was he going to erase everyone's minds? Because that's also a weird moral bridge to cross. But more likely, the genie should have the ability to make Aladdin have all his princely objects and clothing. Aladdin...already made that wish. Genie is held back by certain phrases. He has to say certain things to let it happen. Aladdin tricks him earlier, which makes me wonder about about the flexibility of these situations. But he makes Aladdin say, "I need you to save my life." There are rules. Aladdin made a wish that never came true. Wishes don't just last a second. They have to have some degree of permanence. If the genie wanted to, why doesn't he just help Aladdin? The wish has already been made. There's no self-sacrifice on Aladdin's part because it seems like Aladdin is still a prince. Okay, but going beyond that. The genie, once his freedom has been given, asks Al to make a wish. When it doesn't come true, he realizes that he's gained his freedom. The big problem there is that Aladdin would have used his third wish by this point. It doesn't actually prove his freedom. Hand the lamp to Jasmine. If she can get past the fact that she's terrible at recognizing basic social structures (this bothers me more than I care to let on), she should be able to make a wish.
But who cares about all this stuff? Do you know what other movie I get this worked up about? Back to the Future. When a movie is so tight and so fun, that's when the plotholes get to be fun to pick apart. There's a bunch of them in Aladdin. When I watch Back to the Future, I find the plotholes only to patch them up again. In Aladdin, I kind of just let them go. The thing about Aladdin is that it takes pretty great characters and takes a straightforward way to tell that story. There's no need to really overcomplicate things because the movie works the way it is. Yeah, the Sultan is a dingus. Yeah, it's really weird that Iago has the power to imitate people's voices. (I get it. He's a parrot.) The genie's references are clearly just Robin Williams having fun. But the movie works. It's a great time. The music, shy of one lyric that needs to be buried forever, works. It's such a fun movie. No, I haven't seen the remake. That seems like a Disney+ viewing (That's about the timeline, right?). Regardless, I don't mind when my kids watch it because the music makes me tap my toes.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.