Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My review of Aladdin

Disney marathon part II

I think that this might have been the first movie that I ever saw. If not, it was certainly my original favorite film. Good place to start.

Acting/Characters: The whole cast is likable enough. Nothing to put it above and beyond other voice talent, but (and you all know this is coming) Robin Williams as the Genie...he was easily the highlight of the whole movie. I mean the movie would have been not nearly as good were it nor for him. I really enjoyed every second he was on screen and he always made the scene much more interesting. Frank Welker also did a nice job as Abu. But it was Robin Williams who was the most memorable. For good reason. I also enjoyed Gilbert Gottfried a lot and I think he was the perfect choice for Iago. 10/10

Plot: It's your typical Disney plot. It's adapted from something else but it has that Disney twist. Like with all Disney films, the visuals are outstanding and the music is inspired. It is an excellent plot that keeps you interested the entire way through. 10/10

Screenplay: It's funny on its own, but Robin Williams once again brings beyond what this film was capable of without him. I would love to know what lines of his were improv and which were scripted. The list of scripted lines would probably total about 15 at most. All of the characters had a lot of excellent lines. It was very well done. 10/10

Likableness: Aside from the obvious nostalgic value, it is an excellent piece of film-making by itself. I would definitely watch it again. and again. and again. It's just that good. I highly suggest this film to anyone who hasn't seen it...and if you're around my age and you haven't seen it, your parents didn't love you. 10/10

Final Score: 40/40 100% (N)

TRIVIA TIME: 1. The opening scene with the street merchant was completely unscripted. Robin Williams was brought into the sound stage and was asked to stand behind a table that had several objects on it and a bed sheet covering them all. The animators asked him to lift the sheet, and without looking take an object from the table and describe it in character. Much of the material in that recording session was not appropriate for a Disney film.

2. John Candy, Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy were all considered at one point to provide the voice of the Genie.

3. In early visual development, Aladdin resembled Michael J. Fox. As the film developed, Jeffrey Katzenberg didn't think Aladdin had enough appeal to women, so he asked that Aladdin be beefed up a bit to resemble Tom Cruise. Jasmine's appearance was influenced by Jennifer Connelly, as well as the sister of her animator, Mark Henn. ad feedback
Animator Eric Goldberg based the Genie on the drawings of caricaturist Al Hirschfeld.

4. The two men in the crowd that Aladdin pushes through are caricatures of a couple of the directors (John Musker and Ron Clements); the original plan was to use film critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, but they couldn't get permission.

5. During the course of recording the voices, Robin Williams improvised so much they had almost 16 hours of material. Because Robin Williams ad-libbed so many of his lines, the script was turned down for a Best Adapted Screenplay Academy Award nomination.

6. While filming this movie, Robin Williams frequently received calls from Steven Spielberg who at the time was working on Schindler's List. He would put him on speaker phone so he could tell jokes to the cast and crew to cheer them up. Some of the material that he used was material that he was using for this film.

7. Jafar at first was more hot-tempered, while Iago was a cool, haughty British type. The filmakers felt that having Jafar losing his temper too much made him less menacing, so the personalities of the two characters were switched around.

8. During script and storyboard development, the writers were already considering Robin Williams for the role of the Genie but had not approached him for the project. In order to convince Williams to do the role, Eric Goldberg animated the Genie doing several minutes of Williams's stand-up routines, including parts from his album 'Reality... What A Concept', and screened it for him. Williams was so impressed that he signed almost immediately.

9. Scheduling conflicts with "Star Trek: The Next Generation" forced Patrick Stewart to turn down the role of Jafar. He has said in interviews that this is his biggest regret.

10. On what came to be known among the Aladdin animators as Black Friday, then Disney head Jeffrey Katzenberg told the team to scrap virtually everything they'd been working on for months and start all over again. He also refused to move the film's release date. Directors John Musker and Ron Clements were able to completely turn around the film's new plot and screenplay in just eight days.

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