Twitter Plot Summary: Street urchin Aladdin finds himself the owner of a magic lamp and the Genie who resides within. He gets three wishes, y’know.
Five Point Summary:
1. Jafar’s an evil sort…
2. Genie Time!
3. That tiger will probably go all Seigfried and Roy eventually.
4. A whole new world.
5. Absolute power corrupts, etc etc.
Disney’s Renaissance period continued apace with 1992’s Aladdin, a tale adapted from One Thousand and One Nights. Aladdin is a street rat, a homeless urchin stealing scraps of food in order to survive. Through chance and circumstance he is accosted by Jafar, the Sultan’s sinister Grand Vizier, to retrieve a special lamp from a cave of treasures. This unleashes a genie who can grant the bearer of the lamp three wishes to use as they see fit. Through just two owners of the lamp in this film, a simple case of good versus evil, it becomes clear as to the power and the peril that having three wishes of almost unlimited power can behold.
It’s no surprise that Jafar has since entered the pantheon of classic Disney villains; the man oozes menace and is only interested in one thing. Well, two actually: power and the hand of Princess Jasmine. He’s got a sidekick in the form of Iago (a name for fans of Shakespeare to giggle at), voiced by Gilbert Gottfried who really doesn’t hold back – in fairness he rarely does. Jasmine, by the way, is no shrinking violet – she’s more than happy to tell the men (there are, strangely, no other women in Agrabah. At least, none with voices) exactly what she thinks and, basically, she will not be told what to do with her life or who she will choose as a husband. Aladdin finds himself drawn to Jasmine, so you can kind of see where that one’s going.
Aladdin is a fun lead character, rife with neuroses and concerns as to how The real star is the Genie, played to perfection by Robin Williams. He’s anarchic, fun and prone to some incredible improvisational moments that add an entire new level to the story. It gets better when combining Genie with Abu and the Magic Carpet, both of whom are anthropomorphised to the hilt and turn out to be incredibly fun characters to have around as a result. Even the Sultan is good fun, regularly unwittingly serving Jafar’s will yet still manages to get the odd jibe in over how old Jafar is – no black magic will solve that problem.
The songs continue the good work of The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast by demonstrating a Broadway-level of quality alongside the more quirky (but no less catchy) Genie-led numbers, of which there are many. The tunes are quite simply joyous, and liable to put a big smile on your face just at the thought of them.
And that goes for the film as a whole. The songs are catchy, the animation is superb, the characters are enjoyable or enjoyably evil, and it’s a story that everyone in the family can enjoy. That and it also spawned perhaps the best Disney video game tie-in on the Sega MegaDrive. Other than the distinct lack of other female characters in the story, Jasmine more than makes up for this on her own and the message Aladdin provides is inspirational.