Arguably providing Robin Williams his greatest role, Disney’s Aladdin give creative freedom to the rapid-fire comedian. Following on from the huge success of The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast Disney had proven that feature length animated films were once again a commercially viable film type. So in 1992 they cast Williams as the Genie a constantly changing form entity whose power is matched only by his imagination. A match made in heaven.
In the city of Agrabah, the Sultan (Douglas Seale) has a strong-willed daughter; Jasmin (Linda Larkin) who refuses to marry any of the visiting Princes. The Sultan under the influence of his Vazier Jafar (Jonathan Freeman) puts a deadline on the Princess’ decision. Fleeing the palace in disguise she meets street urchin Aladdin (Scott Weinger), but is taken back to the palace before the two can properly get to know each other. Meanwhile in secret, Jafar is trying to gain access to a secret cave in the desert that houses a powerful Genie (Robin Williams). Realising that Aladdin holds the key, Jafar tells the Princess that Aladdin is dead and secretly sends the boy into the cave to retrieve the lamp.
Like many of Disney’s films from this second renaissance, Aladdin combines a well-known tale with memorable musical numbers and a host of brilliant supporting characters. In fact the supporting cast is so impressive that the central pairing of Aladdin and Jasmin get left behind somewhat. From the moment Genie bursts to life from the lamp all other narratives seem redundant leaving you wishing his frenetic energy was alive in each and every scene. Jafar and his loud-mouthed parrot accomplice Iago (Gilbert Gottfried) ooze plenty of threat and maniacal evil, while the Carpet, who expresses himself through body language and tassels alone might by one of Disney’s unsung character creations.
For such a well-worn story, Aladdin is given new lease of life through the memorable music. Songs such as ˜Prince Ali,’ ˜A Whole New World’ and ˜Friend Like Me’ join the ranks of some of Disney’s most memorable and heart-warming, proving once again that Disney’s potent combination of sentimentalism and family friendly wit and invention are second-to-none. In fact Aladdin with it’s songs, narrative and comedy combined with the standout performance of Robin Williams as Genie proves to be another hit for the Mouse House, and further established the early to mid-1990s as another golden age of animation.