Over twenty five years later, “Aladdin” is still one of the best animated films of the Disney golden age of the late eighties and nineties. Whether it’s on the big screen or the small screen, Jon Musker and Ron Clements’ adaptation of the original series of fantasy tales is engaging, and fun, but also excels in its simplicity and accessibility. Aladdin is also one of the most underrated Disney heroes in their staple, it’s a shame he doesn’t get mentioned too often.
In the city of Agrabah, Street urchin Aladdin survives with the help of his monkey Abu and his quick wits. After being arrested by the sultan’s guards, Aladdin is freed by the evil Jafar who, disguised as an old man, pushes Aladdin in to entering a sacred cave to retrieve a mythical lamp. There, Aladdin is tricked and left to die by Jafar, but makes it out thanks to a magical flying carpet and steals the lamp back. Accidentally releasing the magic genie, Aladdin uses the beings powers to win the heart of the beautiful Princess Jasmine, as prince Ali of Ababwa. But Jafar craves his own power in the kingdom, and takes action to steal Genie.
I fondly remember watching this in theaters, and it’s great to see how much of a rewarding and engaging experience the film still is. From the brilliant production design, and excellent musical numbers, to the wonderful voice work, “Aladdin” is tough to dislike. There are so many great performances from folks like Gilbert Gottfried, Frank Welker, Scott Weinger, and the late, great Robin Williams. Williams manages to deliver a performance that is his own and no one else’s. That speaks sounds when not even charismatic actors like Will Smith, and brilliant voice actors like Dan Castellaneta could even hold a candle to him.
Genie is a lovable, and bright element to a mostly dramatic animated adventure, complimenting every character he crosses. Williams is at his best here. “Aladdin” hasn’t lost any of its luster, offering audiences of all kinds an embarrassment of riches of in the realm of Disney animation and its era.
This release for the Signature Collection is aimed mainly toward grabbing more dough for the big release of the “Aladdin” remake. The new edition comes with a 4K UHD copy, a new Digital Copy with the features from the previous release from 2015, and of course, a Blu-Ray copy. There are Audio Commentaries by Producers/Directors John Musker and Ron Clements & Co-Producer Amy Pell, and an audio commentary by Supervising Animators Andreas Deja, Will Finn, Eric Goldberg, and Glen Keane. Aladdin on Aladdin is a thirty minute discussion with Aladdin voice Scott Weinger, who discusses his journey playing the character Aladdin, meeting with the original cast and the filmmakers, and his recording of the character. Let’s Not Be Too Hasty: The Voices of Aladdin is a three minute montage of vintage footage of all of the actors recording dialogue for the film. There are two alternate endings, one of which reveals the actual identity of the peddler/narrator.
Classic Bonus Preview is a sneak peek at the features from the 2015 home release you can only get through the digital code. The Genie Outtakes is nine minutes of wonderful Robin Williams outtakes, ad libbings, and improv for the character of Genie. Allegedly there is hours of him ad libbing as the character. Aladdin: Creating Broadway Magic is a nineteen minute segment on the history and challenges of making the original Broadway show, while Genie 101 is a four minute look at all of the Genie’s impressions and references in the movie with Scott Weinger. Ron & John: You Ain’t Never Had A Friend Like Me is a five minute sit down with the directors, both of whom reminisce about making “Aladdin” and their collaboration. Finally, there’s the Song Selection, a thirteen minute feature that isolates the musical numbers, along with sing-along words on the bottom of the screen.