Behind the Fairy Tale: Aladdin
Hey, a male protagonist that doesn’t wear tights in a Disney movie ? You betcha. We’ve got a movie with Robin Williams, great songs, a good villain, some action, the required romance with a girl who is not a complete moron, and Robin Williams.
In the opening song, a street vendor sings about the land he comes from saying “Where they cut off your ear if they don’t like your face . . . it’s barbaric, but hey, it’s home.” Peeps got mad, so in the video, they ended up having to dub the line with something that wasn’t nearly as funny as hand chopping. Killjoys.
Anyway, we start with the villain Jafar. He is trying to get this magic lamp out of this far out cave made of sand. At least he’s smart enough to send in someone else first, and the guy tries to grab something besides the lamp, which triggers the cave to collapse. Jafar and his bird Iago – of course there’s a freaking animal sidekick, played by Gilbert Godfrey of all things – are not pleased. Having to hear Godfrey’s shrieking voice for an entire movie -and through the mouth of a parrot at that –was true Disney cruelty. Anyway, the cave tells Jafar to seek the diamond in the rough.
Next we meet Aladdin, resident street rat. He’s a thief but as he says “I steal only what I can’t afford. That’s everything.” He and his monkey companion Abu – of course he has an animal sidekick – get chased all over by fortunately stupid guards. When they finally get a break to eat, they see starving children and Aladdin hands over his bread. I like how the monkey shoves most of his in his mouth really fast.
Then comes our heroine Jasmine, who is out in the gardens with her – sigh – animal sidekick, a tiger named Rajah. Her father, another of those short, weeble-like men that somehow produced a gorgeous daughter, is trying to marry her off and she’s ticked. I don’t blame her, considering her father is a total moron who is being controlled by the snake on Vizier Jafar’s staff. She decides to run away, and the tiger boosts her up over the palace walls which really weren’t all that high. Security fail.
Of course Jasmine doesn’t have a flipping clue about how real life works (let them eat cake!) so she fairly quickly finds herself nearly getting her hand chopped off for taking an apple. They didn’t cut this out of the movie. Moving on. Aladdin helps talk her way out of it, explaining that his poor sister is crazy. Jasmine obliges and says “Hello, doctor” to a camel.
They run away and Aladdin leads her up to his hideout that overlooks the city, and they talk about how both of them are miserable. Jasmine because she’s beautiful and rich and might have to marry, and Aladdin because he has no home, no parents, no food, and hangs out with a possibly rabid monkey. I’m thinking Aladdin has it slightly worse than Jasmine here.
Jafar hypnotizes the Sultan and gets his blue ring which he uses in some plot device to find this diamond in the rough who is, surprise, Aladdin. He sends guards to arrest Aladdin, but Jasmine pulls out the old “I’m the royal freaking princess” trick. The guards say they are acting on Jafar’s orders, take her and arrest Aladdin anyway. Aladdin is tossed in prison, and Jafar tells Jasmine he had him executed. Jasmine is upset because like, he wasn’t a jerk or a moron like most of the people she knows.
Meanwhile, Jafar disguises himself as a freaky old guy and gives him a get out of jail free card in exchange for helping him get the lamp out of the freaky cave. He’s told not to touch anything but the lamp. But Aladdin’s stupid enough to bring the monkey. D’oh. Aladdin finds yet another sidekick, a flying carpet, who is sort of alive, in a rug sort of way. Good thing because the monkey – reason #5,000 to hate monkeys – grabs a giant jewel and the cave gets all bitchy and starts to collapse.
The carpet scoops up Aladdin and monkey and cue Indian Jones scene! Crap is fallin’ everywhere but they make it to the entrance where Jafar tells him to give ‘em the lamp. Aladdin starts to do so when Jafar produces a knife and finally monkey comes in handy and bites him (Hope Viziers can counteract rabies!) and he drops both Aladdin and the lamp into the cave as the sand washes over them.
But all is not lost, except Aladdin’s place in the movie, because he rubs the lamp and ka-bam, out comes Robin Williams. Er, the genie. Also an awesome musical number, “You Ain’t Never Had a Friend Like Me.” So true. I want a friend that grants me freaking wishes. Where is my genie friend, life? Aladdin says he wants out of the cave and the genie transports them out into the desert. Aladdin then informs him he still has three wishes because he didn’t actually wish to be out of the cave, the genie did that himself. Oh, snap. Aladdin is the first lawyer in Agrabah.
Aladdin asks the genie what he would wish for, and the genie says, duh, freedom from granting wishes to schmucks like you. Aladdin promises to use his third wish to set the genie free. The genie wisely doubts this one. Aladdin then wishes to be a prince, so he can win Jasmine, who is clearly so interested in riches and princes since she ran away to the marketplace. But Aladdin’s a guy and clueless. Genie makes him into a prince.
Back at the castle, Jafar is trying to con Sultan Weeble into letting him marry Jasmine so he can be Sultan. But he’s interrupted by the second awesome musical number “Prince Ali”. Aladdin shows up with elephants, dancing girls, swordsmen, a menagerie of animals, etc etc. Jasmine rolls her eyes and is all “what-ev-ah”.
Aladdin literally bursts into the castle on an elephant that used to be his monkey. Don’t ask. He and Jafar argue over who gets to have Jasmine, like she’s an Xbox. She says “Oh no you did-n’t”. So Aladdin has to figure out some other way to con her. The genie suggests the truth, but Aladdin is like, heck with that crap, and brings out the magic carpet. Girls dig nice rides. Jasmine is no different, and they take off together on the carpet in another musical number “A Whole New World”.
Aladdin gets back and boom, Jafar has his minions attach him to a heavy rock and drop him off a cliff. Genie rescues him. Jasmine is really impressed with the carpet – I mean Aladdin – and says she’ll marry him. Remember guys, always have a nice ride! Just one problem: Al has no idea how to be a sultan. Of course, neither did Jasmine’s dad, but Al is actually worried and tells the genie he can’t free him like cause he’ll need him later. Jerk alert.
But then Jafar gets suspicious of him, and the bird spies on him and finds out oh oh he’s using the lamp and steals it for Jafar. Stuff gets real, and Jafar wishes himself Sultan and has the genie kick out Aladdin to the ends of the earth during a fit of redecorating. Aladdin hops on the magic carpet and flies back. Maybe Jafar should have checked to see if he had a flying rug first. Oh, well.
Jafar is having a much better time with the lamp than Aladdin, cause he’s already dressed up Jasmine like an Arabian Princess Leia complete with chains. Then Jafar asks the genie to make him a sorcerer and he and Aladdin are fighting while Jasmine is busy drowning in a giant hourglass full of sand. Then Aladdin encourages Jafar to ask to be a genie and the genie is like, you moron, Aladdin, but he was actually thinking. Cause the guy had giant cosmic powers, but was able to be sucked into a lamp and stored.
So the genie puts everything back like it was and Jasmine knows that Aladdin’s been lying to her this entire time but he’s cute and did save her life so what the heck, she’ll still marry him. Aladdin frees the genie and THE END except they made two sequels nobody watched.
But what is the story BEHIND the Disney tale? I admit it had been a long time since I’d read any other version of Aladdin, so I googled it and came upon this totally whack translation of the original and there is just too much cray cray for me to talk about it in this already long blog post. I’ll talk about that in the next post.
So what did you guys think of Disney’s Aladdin? Stay tuned next time for the botched up story of Pocahontas!