If there was ever a testament to the magic of Robin Williams, it’s in his portrayal of Genie from “Aladdin.” The friendly Genie has been something of a pop culture facet for decades before “Aladdin,” and what could have been a stock character is transformed in to one of the most inadvertent heroes of all time. That’s mainly because Williams instills a humanity and charm in the magical being that’s impossible to recapture. Even a brilliant voice actor like Dan Castellaneta never reached that pitch that Williams did with his turn as the Genie. Though Aladdin is often depicted as the hero of the “Aladdin,” it’s the genie that’s mainly the hero, because he doesn’t just help Aladdin, but he also keeps him on the straight and narrow, devising ways to prevent the magic of the lamp from corrupting the character.
I was going to make this article about Robin Williams and how much happiness he gave me, but that just didn’t seem to fit for me. Surely Robin Williams dying is painful, heartbreaking, and really tragic. I grew up with “Mork and Mindy,” “Hook,” “Good Will Hunting,” and I watched him make people happy with stand up comedy, his appearances on talk shows, and his general love for humanity all around.
What’s really kept me on the verge of tears, is the knowledge that Robin Williams was the victim of depression and likely committed suicide.
“But he was so funny! He always seemed so happy! I don’t get it.” Yes, you don’t. You really don’t. And the truth is, even victims of mental illness don’t get it. We just live with it. I suffer from a mental illness.
Back in 1992, my family and I went to see “Aladdin” when it premiered in theaters. Many years ago, it was one of the best movie going experiences of my life, simply because as an experience, “Aladdin” succeeds in entertaining. As a movie it’s one of the sleekest and most memorable entries in the animated Disney library thanks to its wonderful voice acting and snappy musical numbers. Before “The Lion King” introduced us to Hakuna Matata, it was hard to think of an ear bug more memorable than “Friend Like Me” as sung by the Genie. Many years passed, “Aladdin” is still one of the more top notch efforts from Disney Animated studios, even if it does manage to show its wrinkles two decades later.
Boy, they must have offered these stars a lot of money for this tripe, because I can’t conjure up any sensible reason why they’d star in this. We get an all-star cast of Edward Norton, Robin Williams along with Catherine Keener who was so good in “Lovely & Amazing” but completely makes me lose any future interest in her as an actress. The cast stumble around this movie, playing these despicable characters in their sleep.
10. HIGH FIDELITY (2000) (Starring: John Cusack, Jack Black) – I don’t like romantic comedies, I really don’t, but this movie was a romantic comedy told from the honest and thus sexual perspective of an adult man, trying to decide whether to give up on a girl or try to win her back. It’s also the story of a niche geek, which I am, struggling to decide whether to keep his hobby even though it makes him an outcast, or come to terms with it and profit from it. I generally don’t like Cusack, but here, he turns in a banner performance, and if you’ll recall, this is the first place that Jack Black really started shining on…good stuff.