Aladdin is the latest Disney classic to be remade into a live action film. It’s all right, but I still hate these live action films because of how transparent they are at being cash grabs. I do understand that as long as audiences continue to throw money at these live action remakes, Disney will keep making them.
Aladdin is basically the same story as the animated film that came out decades ago. It centers on a poor thief who encounters a magical genie who grants him three wishes. The rest of the story is a romance about how Aladdin uses the wishes to try and get into a princesses panties. Oh, and the genie can’t make people fall in love with one another so they have to get creative with the wishes.
The story is almost identical to the animated film. The biggest change is the “Me Too” plot line where princess Jasmine wants to be the Sultan but no one thinks a woman can do it. I will completely disregard fear of spoilers and tell you she does get to be the Sultan. Jasmine also gets a new song, which actually is all right.
The most noteworthy bit of casting is Will Smith as the genie. With Robin Williams’ passing, Will Smith had some big shoes to fill. Smith is satisfactory, but he doesn’t come close to the energy and humor Williams brought to the roll. You can tell Smith takes some acting cues from Williams performance, but also tries to add a bit of himself into the roll. Smith is entertaining enough and special effects carry him the rest of the way.
Also I’d like to say a bit about Williams and the impact he and the animated Aladdin had on the film industry in general. The animated Aladdin was an industry changing movie in that it was the first film to take contemporary elements and insert them into a film that did not take place in a contemporary setting. Williams’ performance interjected many comedic bits involving the real world, changing the entire tone of the film from the moment the genie was introduced(Gilbert Godfrey’s performance also helped, but it was Williams who was constantly breaking that fourth wall). To their credit, the animation team followed along with Williams’ performance, animating the genie into things like submarines in a world where that sort of technology doesn’t exist, but does exist for the viewer. After this movie came out, a lot more movies felt really comfortable introducing modern elements into a world where modern elements shouldn’t exist because the opinions were that audiences could now handle it. The movie that stick out most in my mind on this is Shrek.
Watching this movie made it that much clearer to me the impact Williams and Aladdin had. The moments before the genie are introduced are simply classic, cookie cutter romantic comedy. Nothing special, just average. The introduction of the genie is what makes this movie even remotely enjoyable. The sudden addition of fourth wall breaking humor and special effects are what elevate this movie from unremarkable to somewhat memorable.
Otherwise, the acting is okay. The singing is okay, not amazing. It’s nice that they cast people of actual middle eastern descent though.
Overall, this movie was fine. It’s certainly a better effort than the Beauty and the Beast remake in that the lead actors could actually sing somewhat. However, this is still just another money grab of a remake that will likely be forgotten in a few months after release.