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Aladdin

(1992)
Although I really liked Beauty and the Beast, its probable Aladdin was the first Disney film I really loved, and remains my favorite, excepting Hunchback. Aladdin has pretty much everything a modern Disney movie can ask for: snappy show tunes, wit, action, a fun villain, monkey sidekicks, etc. It was also the first Disney movie aimed squarely at boys, which may explain the additional appeal to me. Im sure youve seen the movie and are familiar with the plot, but in case you havent, well, the film follows the story of Aladdin, a young street urchin who has been touched by destiny and is the only one who can rescue the genies lamp from the CGI Cave of Wonders (it rises out of the sand like a colossal panthers head). Evil vizier Jafar wants the genie for his own ends, and once he scryes that Aladdin is the only one who can get it for him, he manipulates the system to have Aladdin arrested so that Jafar can pose as a fellow prisoner to gain his trust. Aladdin agrees, descends into the Cave, but his monkey sidekick Abu tries to steal a forbidden piece of treasure. Hence, Aladdin and said monkey become trapped in the Cave, but discover a flying carpet, and, of course, the genie, voiced by Robin Williams. From there hijinks ensue, as Aladdin and the genie bond and Aladdin uses some of his wishes to try and cozy up to the Princess Jasmine. Its a fast-paced ride, and I have to give a lot of credit to the creators that we dont see the genie until a full half-hour is elapsed, yet the other characters are so interesting we hardly even miss him (until he leaps onscreen and completely steals the show). Aladdin himself is a likable character, masculine enough but still nonthreatening, as befits a Disney hero; the genie, naturally, is high energy and relentlessly funny (Williams was pretty much at his comedic high point around this time), and Jasmine is both sexy and capable, a huge departure for Disney (she remains one of the most interesting female characters theyve ever done). This film pretty much hits all the marks, and even today, almost twenty years later, the animation seems fresh and vibrant, even though technology has largely passed films made with traditional animation by. There is no Blu-Ray, yet, but even on DVD the colors pop off the screen, Sumptuous purples, warm reds, and cool, soothing blues saturate the screen (and the room youre watching the movie in); I can only imagine what this film would look like in high-def, and its a tribute to the folks who prepped this DVD that it still looks good after several years (I think it was released on DVD in the late 90s, Im not positive). Aladdin still looks great, still sounds great, and the story is still a great deal of fun. If you havent seen this one in a while, treat yourself to a rental (or pull it off the shelf) and remind yourself why Disney went through a wonderful renaissance in the 90s. June 4, 2010

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