Aladdin – Disney’s Live Action Version
Background and Stats
Aladdin (2019) is a live action version of the 1992 animated movie. Aladdin cost $183 million to make.[i] It made $91.5 million at the U.S. box office in in the opening weekend. Aladdin’s cumulative worldwide gross was over $255 million in the first week.[ii] The 1992 original cost $28 million to make.[iii] The original runs for 90 minutes, which is about the attention span of small children. Aladdin runs for 128 minutes. Its MPAA rating is PG. In most respects it isn’t as dark as the G rated original.
[i] United States Movie Database, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6139732/reference, last accessed 5/25/2019.
[ii] United States Movie Database, https://www.imdb.com/list/ls053181649/videoplayer/vi1759362073?pf_rd_m=A2FGELUUNOQJNL&pf_rd_p=873a7b94-840b-49af-9a6e-65913649634a&pf_rd_r=G8CJN4S81FQKNDTP22W8&pf_rd_s=hero&pf_rd_t=15061&pf_rd_i=homepage&ref_=hm_hp_cap_pri_1, last accessed 5/26/2019.
[iii] United States Movie Database, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0103639/reference, last accessed 5/25/2019.
Aladdin - Animated Version
Plot and Characters
The plot, with some variations, follows the 1992 animated movie. It has all of the original’s songs, with some variations, and a very good new song. There is also some dancing. It has Will Smith playing the storyteller and the Genie. The movie opens with a large sailing ship. The storyteller is on a dhow with his spouse and two children. The children envy the sailing ship but the storyteller tells them their boat is big enough. The children ask him to sing and tell them a story. Will Smith, who has a credible singing voice, opens with the song “Arabian Nights”. The lyrics were changed from the 1992 version to make it politically correct.[i] An example is the word “barbaric” was changed to “multicultural”.
Aladdin (Mena Massoud) and his clever monkey are petty thieves. Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott), in the guise of a commoner, is walking through the marketplace. When she gives away some of a merchant’s bread without paying for the bread. Aladdin uses sleight of hand thievery to get her away from the merchant.[ii] Aladdin leads Jasmine on a run from the market place to get away from the authorities. Jasmine tells Aladdin she is Dalia (Nasim Pedrad), her handmaiden.
The king’s vizier, Jafar (Marwan Kenzari), wants to retrieve the Magic Lamp from the Cave of Wonders. The men he sent into the cave to retrieve the lamp were unworthy and the cave swallowed them up. Jafar captures Aladdin and sends him into the cave. Aladdin ends up trapped in the cave with the Magic Lamp. Aladdin releases the Genie and is soon out of the cave. His first official wish is to be a prince so he can marry the princess. Aladdin makes a spectacular entry into the city.
The Genie can’t make anyone fall in love. Aladdin has to win Jasmine’s love on his own effort. There is an attraction but Jasmine isn’t won over so easily. Dalia and Genie have an immediate connection. Jafar soon figures out the prince is Aladdin who got out of the cave and has the lamp.
[i] The song in the 1992 theater release had the line, “Where they’ll cut off your ears if they don’t like your face”, before the line “It’s barbaric but hey it’s home.” The complaints caused Disney to cut the line for the video release.
[ii] Sleight of hand plays a role in other key parts of the movie.
In this movie almost all the characters act like adults. Jasmine’s suitor (Billy Magnussen) appears empty headed. An interpretation could be he assumes Jasmine is empty headed. The Sultan acts as a wise leader. Jafar, through sorcery, has some undue influence over the Sultan. Iago the parrot (Alan Tudyk) is a much darker character than in the animated movie. Iago’s speaking is reminiscent of The Raven in Edgar Allen Poe’s poem.
A genie by definition is a larger than life character. Will Smith does an excellent job of humanizing the character. Jasmine is a very strong character and Naomi Scott’s powerful singing voice punctuates the character’s strength. In a statement she points out knowingly obeying an evil superior out of a sense of duty is not honorable but wrong.
The back story is Jasmine’s mother was assassinated and that’s why the Sultan (Navid Negahban) keeps her within the safety of the palace. Other slight differences also contrast with the animated movie. In this movie there is not the implication Jasmine is going to summarily get her hand cut off. There was no mention of beheading. Aladdin is taken into the desert rather than thrown into a dungeon.
The characters’ parallels are interesting. At the story’s beginning Aladdin is a petty thief. Jafar’s back story is he started out as a thief. He is the sultan’s Grand Vizier. Jasmine and Jafar are both in a position to influence the sultan. They can do great things for the kingdom. What separates Jafar from Aladdin and Jasmine is his boundless ambition. Genie pointed out for some no matter how much they get of anything it’s never enough. The concept of “enough” is an underlying theme. It is a matter of doing the best with what you have.
For those who saw it in theaters
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Robert Sacchi