Directed by: Ron Clements & John Musker
Written by: Ron Clements, John Musker, Ted Elliot, Terry Rossio
Starring: Scott Weinger, Robin Williams, Linda Larkin, Jonathan Freeman, Gilbert Godfried
The world of animation provides a landscape for pure magic to be on full display and in the 1990s, Disney produced their best. By combining some incredible visuals and an enthralling story, Aladdin quickly illustrates why it stands out amongst the rest.
Living life as a thief, Aladdin (Scott Weinger) gets propositioned with the opportunity to enter the Cave of Wonders. In that cave, he finds a lamp that releases a Genie (Robin Williams) willing to grant him wishes. Through this new blessing, he tries to utilize it in order to impress the princess of Agrabah, Jasmine (Linda Larkin).
Typically, I find that most celebrity voice actors fail to enhance their projects because they don’t have the proper training that veteran voice actors have amassed. It seems like these celebrities are used more for a marketing tool, but it all started with the incredible work done by Robin Williams as Genie. Williams gave such a tremendous voice performance that every other animated film has attempted to capture but have failed to do so. Williams’s unique voice and line delivery truly made Genie his own and instantly became the best thing about this film. It comes through with the humor and the quick speed of the jokes Genie grinds out. Whether it be through impressions or mocking the other characters, Genie brought inventive jokes in his transformations. It made it shameful that they remade the film into live-action, as the animated style suited the character much more. Rewatching the film only solidified this idea.
Everything on screen feels so magical, including the voice performance by Scott Weinger as Aladdin and Linda Larkin as Jasmine. They create incredible chemistry between their characters simply through their voice work. From Aladdin’s awkwardness to Jasmine’s stern belief in independence that did not need some forced song to display. Her fight against getting married became very clear. Their courtship came together in the wonderful and famous sequence of them singing “A Whole New World,” which means different things for each of them. Rewatching the film showed me that the magic carpet could really travel quickly as it seemed that they made it to Egypt and perhaps China in their flight together. It felt romantic and full of life, which made their attraction feel so plausible and why Jasmine would fight to marry a “street rat” like Aladdin.
As a villain, Jafar (Jonathan Freeman) provided comedy because he looks so incredibly evil in his presentation and it made me question how it took so long for everyone to figure it out. Whether it be his garb or that every single word he says being laced with evil intentions, Jafar displays a pure unrelenting desire for power. That desire ultimately leads to his undoing during the story, as seen through his wishes when given the power to make wishes from the genie. He along with his talking parrot, Iago (Gilbert Gottfried) creates a fun villainous duo that has just enough incompetence to make them easy to laugh at but enough venom to dislike them.
Aladdin tells a classic story that has quickly become beloved by an entire generation that can recite the songs and even segments of dialogue. It uses the medium of animation to create a world that could be based on the real world but fantastical enough to be a pure fantasy about the earnestness of a young guy and the purely negative ambition of Jafar. Their juxtaposition informs their fate when given the opportunity to make wishes from the all-powerful genie. It has its morals but mixes so much fun between the Genie and even the Sultan, who has incredible flair in the story. A true animated classic that will stand the test of time.