Admittedly, Aladdin was probably the Disney movie I watched most as a kid. Primarily due to Robin Williams and his performance as the genie. When they announced this remake, it was met with an eye roll and I believe I said, “of course, why not!” Hollywood is out of ideas, and all of our childhood classics are being re-imagined in live-action. While some remakes and reboots haven’t been all bad, others just don’t need to be touched. Aladdin is one of the classics that didn’t need to be touched. Robin Williams’ portrayal as the genie was flawless and was the quintessential character that made the movie what it was. If there was ever a person to attempt to get anywhere near Robin Williams, it would be Will Smith.
If you’ve seen the original animated version, you will be happy to know that this reboot sticks close to the original plot line almost word for word. There is an addition of a few new songs that could have been left out, in my opinion. It felt like they were trying to hard to force new music, when the original music was just fine. Will Smith carries this movie and adds a very fun “Fresh Prince” twist to the Genie’s character, and his rendition of the song “Friend Like Me” was very entertaining. The actors who play the main characters Aladdin and Jasmine are not household names and did a fine job. They could have gotten a creepier actor to play the villain Jafar. In the cartoon, he was much more menacing where he seemed to be a bit mousy and whiny in this remake. I would also not be surprised to hear complaints about the characters being white washed, so that should make for some fun debates.
There were moments where it felt like my wife and I were the only ones laughing in the theater. I don’t know if the rest of the audience just didn’t get it, or maybe they didn’t have the same “special lemon bar” prior to the movie like we did. Either way, I think this movie is fun for the whole family, but if you’re an Aladdin purist like myself, you might be a bit underwhelmed. I’ll give the Aladdin live action remake a sideways thumb.