The excitement to finally get to watch one of the best Disney movies of all time was immense – and the Fella and I were happy to share this milestone moment with our dear friend Alexis.
A fortune-teller, a comedienne, and a witch at different turns in her life, Alexis is talented performer and creator in her own right. She definitely brought her a-game to the table when it came to our next stop on the Disney Odyssey… Aladdin!
The Film: Aladdin (1992)
- Unsurprisingly, much of the interesting history around this film has to do with the late, great and impossibly genius Robin Williams. For starters… He ad-libbed so much in recording his role for this movie that they had nearly 16 hours of footage – most of which would go unused for various reasons. Additionally, the movie was not eligible for the Academy Award for Best Screenplay – because of how much ad-libbing there was.
- Robin Williams agreed to do the film under a set of specific conditions, including that his voice would not be used for merchandising, and that the Genie would not take up more than 25% of the movie poster or advertisements. When the studio failed to uphold these requests, Robin Williams withdrew from supporting the studio. His name is missing from certain books and merchandising, and he did not perform the role of Genie in the direct-to-video sequel The Return of Jafar (1994) or the Aladdin TV series on the Disney Channel. By the time the third film (Aladdin and the King of Thieves – 1996) rolled around, new Disney CEO Michael Eisner had made amends, and Robin Williams returned as Genie.
- The budget for Aladdin was $28 million, and it made $504 million at the box office.
- Disney color theory returns in this desert-set feature: red is bad, blue is good, and yellow is neutral (thanks, sand).
- Two old men that Aladdin pushes past in the crowd when one of the suitors is riding by are caricatures of John Musker and Ron Clements, the film’s directors.
- Contenders for the role of Jafar included Tim Curry, Kelsey Grammar, John Hurt, Christopher Lloyd and Ian McKellen. The part went to Jonathan Freeman, who went on to play the role again in the Broadway musical adaptation in 2011.
- Multiple mentions of Allah in the film indicate that Agrabah is an Islamic country, making this the first Disney film to not take place in an ambiguously Christian community/country/setting.
- During “A Whole New World,” two of the locations Aladdin and Jasmine fly over are the future settings for Mulan and Hercules.
- In earlier versions of the script, Aladdin had three friends he had adventures with – Babkak, Omar, and Kassim. Although these friends didn’t make it into the film, they were brought back into the script for the Broadway musical.
- A hidden Mickey can be ‘spotted’ on Rajah’s fur during his second transformation, and a figurine of the Beast is in the stack of animal figures that the Sultan is playing with.
- Jafar’s character design is heavily influenced by Maleficent: they each have a high horned hat, a magical staff, a bird henchman, and at their respective films’ climaxes they transform into giant serpents.
- Warner Brothers animator Chuck Jones called it the funniest feature ever made.
- Alexis: “The animation already looks really good for being almost as old as me.” The Fella: “But that castle! It’s HUGE! Who lives there?!” Aly: “NO ONE. The sultan, a girl, a tiger, an evil advisor, and a parrot. And servants. But that’s it.”
- Ladies and gentlemen: Robin Williams, breaking the fourth wall less than five minutes into the movie.
- Iago’s INSANE one liners. “I think I’mma have a heart attack and DIE from ‘not surprised’.”
- Aladdin is based physically on different models. Aly: “…and he will have the Pants of MC Hammer! And the jawline of Tom Cruise!”
- Aladdin: Making Parkour Cool Since 1992
- Alexis: “Abu does not understand your human emotions. He only understands food and greed.”
- The sequence of Aladdin in prison being tricked by Jafar-in-disguise has an almost Count of Monte Cristo air about it.
- Abu versus the Carpet inside the Cave of Wonders is riddled with commedia lazzi – the ‘sneak’, the ‘it’s behind you’, etc.
- The Cave of Wonders falling apart sequence isn’t as dramatic as everyone things. Alexis: “What’s really happening is he just has really bad heartburn, triggered by Abu grabbing the wrong item. He just needs some Tums.”
- So when the Genie says “Ten thousand years can give you such a crick in the neck!” many fans speculated later on that he has actually been in the lamp that long, and that all of his anachronistic references are because Aladdin actually takes place ten thousand years after the modern day. *INCEPTION NOISE*
- Wondering about the Genie’s pop culture references? Click here for a few helpful hints.
- The Fella pointed out that it’s interesting that Aladdin doesn’t say “Genie, I wish I was a prince,” but rather “Genie, I wish for you to make me a prince.” The wording could mean nothing at all, but it could also mean that all of the subsequent events are a part of that initial wish and Genie’s careful plotting: that although Jafar gets the upper hand and everything, Aladdin still fights back and does the right thing, making him worthy of being a hero and therefore, a prince. DEEP.
- Aly: “Seriously this palace is huge, where are there servants even?!” Alexis: “Oh, they’re house elves. You’ll never even notice them.”
- But like no wonder Jafar wants to take over the kingdom. The Sultan doesn’t do anything at ALL around here. And he’s already collected every animal figurine in the country.
- New head canon: Jasmine’s mother was not only very progressive (and bestowed her ideals on her daughter) but she was probably running the country too, which explains the Sultan being a kind of useless ruler in her absence.
- Jafar’s goons dump Aladdin in the ocean, and we’re all confused by where they found an ocean in the middle of the freaking desert. “Maybe it’s behind the palace?” Alexis suggested. After Genie rescues him, the camera pans up and over the ocean cliff to the palace – meaning the ocean is literally in their backyard. “Wow,” Alexis said, “I was just trying to insert logic into the chaos that is my world, but I guess I was right.”
- Aly: “I’m suddenly realizing the deep parallels between Princess Leia and Princess Jasmine. They’re both smarter and sharper-tongued than people remember/give them credit for… despite being lauded for their hotness and sexual appeal. And they both face being put into a sexualized slave outfit.”
- Hmmm. The parallels are DEFINITELY there…
- Aladdin continues to roll really high on his dexterity saves during this final battle, AND he rolls a natural 20 on his diplomacy roll to convince Jafar to wish to be a genie himself. Bam! That’s how it’s done, rogues.
- Although the ending reprise of “Whole New World” feels a little abrupt, the little scene where Aladdin wishes to free the Genie is so sweet and delightful. What a fantastic movie that still holds up beautifully after all these years!
Disney Renaissance Credits Slow Jam:
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Thank you for joining us this time on the Disney Odyssey… and make sure to subscribe to the blog for the next post!