Dir: Ron Clements + John Musker
Starring: Scott Wanger, Linda Larkin, Robin Williams, Jonathan Freeman
This is a Disney movie, straight up and down. As such, it has all the weaknesses of Disney movies. The hero is the least interesting character on view, it’s restricted by the G-rating, and people burst into song with disturbing frequency. Plus, this one’s got Robin Williams in it. And yet…it has all the strengths of Disney movies too: solid plot, great animation and fabulous voice acting in the supporting roles, led by Gilbert Gottfried as hench-parrot Iago. The story (magic lamp, three wishes, rescue the princess, blah blah) is somewhere between Ali Baba and the Arabian Nights, yet the elements come together naturally enough.
Aladdin (Wanger) is rather pale and uninteresting, when compared to uber-sneerer Jafar (Freeman), the hyperactive genie (Williams, less irritating than expected) or feisty Princess Jasmine (Larkin) – even the flying carpet has more personality. In any other genre, this would likely be fatal, but going into a Disney film expecting anything else would be silly. So it’d be churlish to criticise, and there is one fabulous sequence where the hero escapes from volcanic lava, which mixes CGI and cel animation to an effect that still holds up in 2002. The tunes are hugely forgettable, but there’s plenty going on between them. If you’re going to have a G-rated movie – and you never know when maiden aunts may visit – this will do fine.