Aladdin (1992)

Directed by: Ron Clements/John Musker

Written by: Ron Clements/John Musker/Ted Elliott/Terry Rossio/Burny Mattinson/Roger Allers/Daan Jippes/Kevin Harkey/Sue Nicholas/Francis Glebas/Darrell Rooney/Larry Leker/James Fujii/Kirk Hanson/Kevin Lima/Rebecca Rees/David S. Smith/Chris Sanders/Brian Pimental/Patrick A. Ventura

Based on books by: Antoine Galland

This is my favorite of the Renaissance movies, and it’s probably the one that I’ve seen most often. So that might color my review juuuuuuust a tiny bit.

Of course, it was (until The Lion King) the highest grossing animated film of all time. So I’m certainly not the only one who feels this way. Hell, even Chuck Jones called it “the funniest feature ever made.”

Howard Ashman had been wanting to make an Aladdin film since 1988. he wrote a 40-page treatment that was rejected. Eventually, though, Katzenberg relented. But not before telling the crew to completely rewrite everything. A LOT of elements of Ashman’s treatment were jettisoned. Aladdin’s mom, his three friends, Abu was changed from an old human man to a monkey, and the story was changed from being all about how wishes made Al’s life better to being about how wishes weren’t all that they were cracked up to be. (They realized that the 80s were over and that greed was no longer good.) And, most importantly, they made Jasmine much stronger than any other Disney princess to this point.

The animation crew got in some trouble because the characters are all pretty stereotypical looking…except for Aladdin and Jasmine, who look like American teenagers with tans. The characters (except for Jafar) are inspired by the work of Al Hirschfeld, the most famous caricaturist in history. They also aged Aladdin up during the animation process. He started out at about 13 but started to get hunkier. So he’s about 18 in the movie.

Aladdin (Scott Weinger) is a street rat in ancient Arabia. Jasmine (Linda Larkin) is the princess. She’s cooped up in the palace until she decides to break out and check out the market. That’s where she meets Al and Abu (his monkey buddy, voiced by master of voices Frank Welker) and almost instantly falls in love.

Unfortunately, Jafar (Johnathan Freeman) has other plans for Aladdin. The Sultan’s Grand visier arrests the boy and fakes his death so that when he’s eventually killed during a quest to steal a magic lamp no one will be the wiser.

Aladdin steals the lamp, nearly dies, is saved by a flying carpet, and pulls a genie (Robin Williams) out of the lamp.

This is where the movie goes off the Disney rails into Crazy Land. Robin Williams’ (mostly improvised) genie is a creation that only he could have come up with. He steals the entire movie. In fact, it doesn’t even matter what happens in the movie, because no one actually cares about anything by Genie.

Suffice it to say, everyone (except Jafar) lives happily ever after. And Aladdin could have gotten the girl without his three wishes.

I love this movie sooooooo much. Genie is amazing, the music is lots of fun, the characters are great, and…well…it was the first Disney movie that I saw in the theatre after The Great Mouse Detective. You know…after I “grew up.” It made me realize that I still love animation. This was around the same time that I fell back in love with Looney Tunes, too, so I was in a bit of cartoon heaven for a bit.

Of course, I didn’t see another Disney movie in the theatre for a few years (I think Mulan was the next one), but I tried to watch them on video. Sort of.

I was always more of a Looney Tunes guy, honestly. And Aladdin is about as close as Disney ever got to Looney Tunes.