When I saw Disney’s Aladdin in the movie theater, way back in 1992, I remember being blown away by not only the caliber of the music, but also the incredible performance of Robin Williams. Sure, Jasmine is included in any princess merchandising, and Aladdin is remembered for being the plucky boy who won her heart, but it was Robin Williams’ genie that stole the show.
Aladdin is very loosely based on Arabian Nights, with an even looser grasp on the culture or time period in which its set. Aladdin tells the story of a homeless, poor boy, who resorts to stealing in order to feed himself and his pet monkey. Princess Jasmine, the Sultan’s restless daughter, sneaks out and discovers the streets are more dangerous than she realizes. Aladdin comes to her rescue, but the Sultan’s evil steward, Jafar, throws Aladdin into jail, hoping to use him for his own schemes. Jafar is controlling the Sultan with a magic staff, but he needs Aladdin to venture into the Cave of Wonders and retrieve a magic lamp. Aladdin finds the lamp but beckons the genie himself. The genie then serves Aladdin, eventually putting an end to Jafar and helping Aladdin win Jasmine’s hand.
Aladdin uses the same successful formula used by The Little Mermaid, that was released only three years prior. The combined talents of directors Ron Clements and John Musker, plus music by the incredible Alan Menken, made Aladdin a non-stop comedy/action fest.
However, it’s the performance of Robin Williams as the Genie that makes Aladdin wholly unique. There isn’t another Disney movie with as frenetic, as inspired of a performance. Robin Williams brought his sharp comic timing and pop culture rants to a role could easily have been forgettable. In fact, Robin Williams won a special award at the Golden Globes for his performance. Robin Williams died far too soon, and Aladdin will forever be a testament to Williams’ prodigious talent.
Aladdin also won Academy Awards for Best Original Song and Best Original Score.
The Diamond Edition of Aladdin has everything: Blu-ray, DVD and digital copy. Really, I don’t need to convince you of how wonderful it is to have Aladdin in such high definition, especially after the last DVD was released as long ago as 2004. Fans of Robin Williams will delight in “Genie Outtakes,” and listening to Alan Menken talk about his process for composing award-winning material in “Aladdin:’ Creating Broadway Magic” thoroughly tickled this musical theater geek. There are other bonus features to round out the whole package.
Let’s hope Disney doesn’t hide this gem of a film for another eleven years.