History, Mythology And All Other Destinations #film #review #Aladdin

Never go back, they say. Don’t re-read that favourite book, or visit your old home. It’ll be disappointing.

It goes for film, of course. Not all but quite a few to make the cliche work for its living, at the very least.

When our two were young and we still used videos as a trendy form of entertainment, we had friends living in the unregulated world of Bahrain. They could source bootlegged Disney videos for the price of corruptible conscience. We were sent several that had yet to make it to the TV – Dumbo, 101 Dalmatians, Sleeping Beauty. The older they were the better quality, since they were recorded stolen from the master tape. The newer ones – I can’t remember which it was – came through with the odd head silhouetted in the shot as someone got up to walk out half way through the film. The kids were delighted, told their friends and my criminality was unmasked for a small select band of parents at their primary school.

One of the popular videos was Aladdin. Cheesy cartoons and ear-wormy songs that were the staple fayre of the Disney stable before Pixar came along, added homages to earlier, greater films and a lot of adult humour, in the sense that we adults laughed rather than cringed and changed the world of animation for good. I sat through Aladdin with its leading characters as badly sketched as a 1960s tower block – those unfeasibly round anime eyes, that were meant to suck you in emotionally but merely left you worrying about early onset dropsy. The saving grace was that Robin Williams voiced the genie. Scripted some of it, too. And consequently I survived the experience and can still recall it without resorting to a Herbert Lom twitch.

Honestly, I thought my Aladdin days were done and then along comes the live action version with a cimematographically enhanced Will Smith playing the Robin Williams role of wise-cracking genie.

‘Do you want to see Aladdin?’ This from the Vet, and a blast from the past because she’d have been the one asking to see the video.

I asked the Textiliste if she wanted to see it and received a look – the sort that tells me destressing her teaspoon collection will be preferable.

So it was just me and the loved up soon-to-be-weds. When we met up in the Picturehouse the Vet was excited. ‘I’m excited,’ she told us, unnecessarily. ‘Are you?’

Honestly, not really. It have every element that tended towards a meah evening – a story I knew and one where the previous version’s one redeeming feature – Williams’ unique brand of stream of consciousness humour – was missing; a fantasy that was really for kids but hoped to cross genres but was more likely to make for a cross genre and an even crosser audience; a musical whose best songs would only make it onto a playlist if it was commissioned by K-tel; and a great comic actor who you feared would either be himself and flop in comparison to his predecessor or worse try and emulate the great man and ignore his own skill set.

Not setting the bar very high, am I?

And the opening sequences involving all the main players apart from the genie, lived up to expectations. Sadly. The CGI was fine, the monkey companion to Aladdin a perfect example of a method acting simian and the first song nicely done. Sigh.

Then the genie appeared and everything perked up. It wasn’t Robin Williams but then again it wasn’t not Williams. It was a homage but one done with wit and care. I laughed, I tapped along to the best musical number as Aladdin pretended to be Prince Ali to woo Princess Jasmine and I didn’t look at my watch.

It is a film, in and of its type. Not an Oscar nomination but one to leave a bit of a smile and not the sense of twelve quid wasted.

If you ask me to remember one thing from Williams’ performance on the cartoon it is when Aladdin frees the genie. ‘What will you do?’ Asks Aladdin.

The genie thinks and then spins around manically grinning. In the same voice and intonation with he stunned us with ‘Good Morning, Vi-Et-Nam!’ Williams bellows, ‘I’m History!’ He pauses and looks confused before another spin and grin. ‘I’m mythology!!’ And then he explodes like a firework and disappears over the horizon, with, ‘No, I don’t care what I am, I’m free!!!’

It was perfect Williams. Smith doesn’t repeat it, thank heavens. It’s a classic of its time and type. But I can give him no better praise than to say his version didn’t lack in comparison.

If you’ve kids or adults who would be kids and you enjoyed the cartoon then give it a whirl. If not then go check on the mental health of your cutlery…

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published three anthologies of short stories and a memoir of my mother. More will appear soon. I will try and continue to blog regularly at geofflepard.com about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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19 Responses to History, Mythology And All Other Destinations #film #review #Aladdin

  1. Ritu says:

    We saw it last week and I loved it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Erika Kind says:

    I saw the movie last Friday! I absolutely loved it. It is so funny, great effects, and Will Smith is simply fantastic!

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Ah you are too generous. In comic mode he’s fine
      When he tries serious or worried he’s a bit of a plank. Still good you enjoyed it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Erika Kind says:

        Haha, I know what you mean… but in my opinion he met the comic genie very well, who still appeared funny when even worried or serious. Perhaps I am also biased since I like Will Smith very much! But however, yes, I enjoyed it a lot 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  3. trifflepudling says:

    I do like Will Smith. His ‘I think I can beat Mike Tyson’ as the Fresh Prince (with Jazzy Jeff) is really fun. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jam_t-gj7HM . Also good in Six Degrees of Separation.
    Enjoyed your review and references to Robin Williams (although I never saw the film!).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great review, Geoff. I must say though, I restrict my cinema attendance to those movies where it is mandatory to brave the sticky floor, the flying Jugyfruits, the phony sneeze disguising the word bullshit, the talking heads, and the outrageous prices. I’ll give you a hint. The last was Star Wars in 1977. I’ve installed my own sound system, HD replay, and nine million dot resolution screen so now there is very little to take me there. If I miss it I can spill my own soft drink, fling my Jugyfruits, and say bullshit right out loud. I’ll wait for the DVD or stream whichever comes first but thanks for the recommendation.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I saw it with my sons during the opening weekend here in Los Angeles and found it very entertaining. Will Smith’s genie was funny and engaging.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I never saw the first one and probably won’t see this one – but I feel kind of curious now…….

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Norah says:

    That sounds like a recommendation, Geoff. Thanks. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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