Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Aladdin; animated fantasy, USA, 1992; D: John Musker, Ron Clements, S: Scott Weinger, Robin Williams, Linda Larkin
Middle East, Agrabah. The evil Jafar, Sultan's advisor, discovered a magical lamp in a cave where only one chosen person can enter: Aladdin. He is a poor lad, but saves the life of princess Jasmine who ran away from her palace because she didn't want to get married. Jafar persuades Aladdin to find the lamp, but the cave collapses. Yet Aladdin is saved by the genie in the lamp who helps him defeat Jafar and conquer Jasmine's heart.
It is interesting how some inferior movies enjoy a bigger reputation, thanks to popularity, than some superior ones that are unknown to a large audience. With a gross of 217 million $ at the US box office, "Aladdin", the 31st animated feature by the Walt Disney studios, is the 25th most commercial film of the 20th century, but it's not as beautiful as some other Disney film, "Snow White". Besides the fact that it has all the stereotypes of almost all Disney animated films til date ever since "Snow White", "Aladdin" has a more pressing problem: it would have been nothing without the score and Robin Williams' tour-de-force comic performance - the storyline is as developed as an episode of a morning TV cartoon show, while the overt goofiness wipes out a large amount of pathos and emotions. For instance, the entrance of the secret cave is shaped like a cat's head (!) that moves its rocky mouth when it talks and thus looks absurd. Equally banal is the sequence where the guards are chasing after the title hero and sing, ending in compost, as well as the one where Aladdin is disguised as a prince and arrives with a giant kitschy balloon shaped like a monkey... Needles to say that all these attempts at jokes seem lame. Still, despite its chaotic nature, "Aladdin" is an interesting animated film and the already mentioned performance by Williams, who provided the voice of the comic genie, is excellent - who among others makes humorous impersonations of Jack Nicholson's and William F. Buckley's identities - while the story is appropriately fairylike, especially in the enchantingly beautiful sequence in which the love couple Aladdin and Jasmine fly on a magic rug through the clouds, accompanied by the perfect song "A Whole New World".