28. Aladdin


Movie: Aladdin

Release Date: November 25, 1992

Director: John Musker, Ron Clements.

Starring: Scott Weinger, Robin Williams, Linda Larkin, Jonathan Freeman, Frank Welker, Gilbert Gottfried, Douglas Seale.

Tag Lines: “It is not what is outside, but what is inside that counts.”

“A diamond in the rough.”

“Imagine if you had three wishes, three hopes, three dreams, and they all could come true.”

Relevance: I was never really a huge Disney fan as a child or an adult. Sure, I had watched all of Walt Disney films as a kid. I even saw a few of them, including ‘Bambi,’ at the drive-in theater. I knew who Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy were and even watched “The Mickey Mouse Club” on television. My mom was a big Disney fan (she loved Goofy, which says a lot about my dad), so a lot of that viewing was triggered by her. As an adult I have watched (and loved) many of the animated releases, including Pixar, thanks mostly to my son. However, I wasn’t one that jumped on every release by the mega company. (And please don’t get me started on their influence on Broadway – not everything has to be “disneyfied.”) With that said, between the years of 1992 and 1995, if you knew me, you would have thought I was the biggest Disney fan on the planet.

In the Spring of 1992, still in college, I happened upon the trailer to ‘Aladdin.’ I had seen ‘The Little Mermaid’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ which I thought were just okay, but they were not movies that necessarily blew my skirt up. So I was not looking for anything Disney related to fulfill my entertainment appetite. There was something however that made me take notice of ‘Aladdin.’ Two words. Robin Williams. I was already a huge fan of him and his movies and since has become one of my favorite actors of all time. This is actually Robin Williams’ sixth out of seven films on my list of most influential movies of all time (see 209. The Fisher King, 180. Dead Again, 104. Dead Poets Society, 48. Good Will Hunting and 38. The Birdcage for the other five). So for the first time in my life, I was excited for a Disney film to be released.

My excitement for the film grew only stronger later that Fall. As more and more promotion was done for the film, we got the chance to hear some more music that would be a part of the production. “A Whole New World” was instant magic to my ears for one reason, which also happened to be two words. Lea Salonga. I was a huge fan of the musical “Miss Saigon.” It was beautiful and gorgeous and one that has remained one of my favorite musicals of all time. I used to listen to the Original London Cast recording all of the time and fell in love with its star, Ms. Salonga. In 1991, when it debuted on Broadway, I was lucky enough to see the show, with and thanks to my mom and dad, and watch her perform live on stage. It was one of the greatest moments of my life. Now her and Robin Williams were part of the same project, which made me totally invested.

Before ‘Aladdin’ was even in theaters, the soundtrack to the film was released and I immediately ran out to buy it on CD. I was in the middle of my senior year in college, but there I was buying the soundtrack to a Disney film. What can I say, I liked what I liked, something I was never apologetic about. I instantly fell in love with all of the music. Eventually they released “A Whole New World’ to radio, but it was a version sung by Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle. I preferred the movie version and that is the one I stuck with most of the time. I listened to that soundtrack for a month straight right up until the film was finally released in theaters.

I went to see ‘Aladdin’ during its opening weekend with my then girlfriend and was more than pleased by what I saw on the big screen. I loved the story, adored the music and thought Robin Williams’ performance was Oscar worthy. The movie received huge critical and commercial success, eventually becoming the highest grossing film of 1992 and receiving five Academy Award nominations, winning two, one for “A Whole New World.” My love for the movie continued right up until its home media release, which of course I bought as soon as humanly possible. I shared and watched (and re-watched) the movie with everyone that I knew. It was by far my favorite motion picture of 1992.

As I got older and eventually had a child, one of the things I loved sharing the most with him was ‘Aladdin.’ I loved reliving the adventures of Aladdin, Genie, Jasmine and Abu through the eyes of my toddler son. I now own the film and all of its sequels on DVD and can report that the original is one of the movies that my son and I completely agree upon. Yes, he adored it as much as his old man and still does. ‘Aladdin’ is one of those films that still gives me as much glee watching it now as it did way back in 1992. It’s timeless and one that will never, ever get old for my family and hopefully my son;s family as well.

Today’s Thoughts: “Oi! Ten thousand years will give you such a crick in the neck.”

As much as I love this movie, I probably have not watched it in its entirety for a few years. I did sit down this year and watch the live action version starring Will Smith. I thought I was going to be very disappointed, but it turned out I was thoroughly entertained by it. However, there is nothing like the original and as much as I like Will Smith, there is no one better than Robin Williams.

‘Aladdin’ is still pure joy to listen to and watch. I know the movie inside and out and can sing along and say most of the lines without even blinking. With that said, the movie continues to make me laugh out loud. Thanks in huge part to Mr. Williams. He was a true genius in every sense of the word and it still pains me that he is no longer on this planet. The Genie, even though it is only his voice, is by far one of his greatest accomplishments and gifts to our world.

I would hate to think that there are people out there who have not seen ‘Aladdin,’ but if there are, please go watch it now. It is an entertaining and joyous film that give me so much joy. I promise it will do the same for you and your entire family. There is still one more Disney film (if you re-read the first paragraph, there is a hint) and one more Robin Williams film on this list. Until then, I only have one more thing to say…”In case of emergency, the exits are here-here-here-here-here-here-here-here-here-here-here – anywhere! Keep your hands and arms inside the carpet! We’re outta here!”

Awards: Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song, “A Whole New World,” Alan Menken, Tim Rice (winner), Academy Award for Best Music, Original Score, Alan Menken (winner), Academy Award for Best Sound, Terry Porter, Mel Metcalfe, David J. Hudson, Doc Kane (nomination), Academy Award for Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing, Mark A. Mangini (nomination), Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song, “A Friend Like Me,” Alan Menken, Howard Ashman (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Original Score – Motion Picture, Alan Menken (winner), Golden Globe for Best Original Song – Motion Picture, “A Whole New World,” Alan Menken, Tim Rice (winner), Golden Globe for Vocal Work (Special Award), Robin Williams (winner), Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Original Song – Motion Picture, “A Friend Like Me,” Alan Menken, Howard Ashman (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Original Song – Motion Picture, “Prince Ali,’ Alan Menken, Howard Ashman (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Score, Alan Menken (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Special Effects, Don Paul, Steve Goldberg (nomination), Los Angeles Film Critics Association for Best Animation (winner),

Ways to Watch: Disney+, Vudu, YouTube, Google Play, Amazon Prime, DVD Availability.


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