Aladdin (animated)

1992, Disney

Aladdin was a landmark animation for Disney, earning over half a billion against a $28 million budget, as well as two Oscars and a Grammy. Robin Williams really owned his part as the genie, having ad-libbed a significant amount of dialog, although Disney royally effed up an agreement with him over film marketing. (A Picasso painting worth $1 million, offered as damage control, backfired. It took a new studio head to repair the damage.) Minor controversies aside, this really marks a return to form for Disney: the voice work is solid, the songs are memorable, and the animation is (with some CGI assistance) top-drawer. And, of course, Robin Williams is not to be missed. Sad to think it was later regarded as racist (huh?), a strange circumstance that spawned one of Disney's very worst live-action remakes...

       

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Aladdin (live action)

2019, Disney

In an effort to correct past sins (the animated version was considered racist), Disney concocted a hyper-politically-correct, live action version of one of their best modern animated films. This turd offers no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Will Smith phoned in a cringeworthy imitation of Robin Williams; the leads could barely sing, much less act, and had no on-screen chemistry; and the rest of the cast was utterly forgettable. Adding insult to injury, the requisite annoying comic relief sidekick—in this case, a parrot voiced by a sadly wasted Alan Tudyk—was downright offensive. Not to mention the over-the-top digital effects could have been swiped straight from some generic, lackluster superhero film.

It was amusing to learn that, despite their best efforts to be inclusive and non-racist, Disney earned no end of criticism over Aladdin. Some examples: when questioned about their dubious casting decisions, Julie Ann Crommett, Disney's Vice President of Multicultural Engagement (just the fact that they have such a department makes me chuckle), defended them as the "mixing or association of different cultures in the broad region that consists of the Middle East, South Asia and China by extension." In other words, if their skin was a little on the dark side, they were good to go. And then, it was reported that white extras had brown make-up applied during filming in order to "blend in." Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

Although it might serve as babysitting material, for this adult fan of fantasy it was, in a word, unwatchable.

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