The young thief Aladdin falls in love with the Princess Jasmine when they meet in the marketplace of Agrabah, but a street rat like him can never hope to win the hand of a princess. A mysterious old man - actually the Sultan's royal vizier Jafar in disguise - offers him a chance to earn fabulous riches if Aladdin would just recover a tiny little lamp from a cave in the middle of the desert. Jafar betrays Aladdin, leaving him to die in the cave, but all is not lost, as Aladdin soon discovers. In the undistinguished lamp is an all-powerful Genie who will grant Aladdin three wishes. Now Aladdin can make himself into a prince worthy of a princess, but all the wealth in the world is not enough to win Princess Jasmine's heart and defeat the plans of evil Jafar.
I'd say that after The Little Mermaid, the most iconic film of my childhood is Aladdin. My brother and I watched this movie all the time! It was the perfect Disney movie. The Genie was hilarious, even though most of his impressions went sailing right over our heads. (Heck, some of them still do. Who is he supposed to be when he's saying "There are a few, uh, provisos. Ah, a couple of quid pro quo" in the Cave of Wonders? ) Aladdin was a great hero for my brother to enjoy, while Jasmine was a fantastic princess for me. Jafar's voice is perfectly evil, and even obnoxious Iago generated plenty of laughs for us.
So I was a little nervous re-watching this movie after 10+ years. What if it wasn't as good as I remembered? Was I setting myself up for a huge disappointment? I was especially worried about Robin Williams, because I haven't found him to be funny in any of the movies I've seen him in.
But hooray! Aladdin was still fantastic. I found myself appreciating much of the film for entirely different reasons from my childhood. The blending of computer and traditional animation was so smooth! When I was a kid, the only scene I noticed to be computer-rendered was when the Cave of Wonders erupts out of the desert sand. I never noticed that most of the backgrounds inside the Cave of Wonders were done on the computer, or that the carpet's texture is digitally rendered. It's just so cool to see how well the two animation formats worked together.
The Genie is freakin' manic, man. His fast-paced chatter and constant impressions (Robin Williams, for sure!) are insane. When he's singing "Friend Like Me" I couldn't make out several lines...it makes me wonder how well I kept up as a kid. Did I understand everything he said, or did I just laugh and go along with it, not minding because the animation was so funny? I mean, the Genie is really, really funny, don't get me wrong. He's just also all over the place.
Funny how, when I was a kid, the many references to Islam flew right over my head. The Sultan's frustrated shout of "Allah forbid you should have any daughters!" is one of funniest lines in the movie, but I'm not sure I really noticed it when I first saw this film at the ripe old age of...eight. Hmmm. I do vaguely remember some of the controversy over the movie's portrayal of Arabs, and that a line in the opening song was changed to make it less offensive.
It's a truly fun movie. If you watch the special features documentary, the producers reveal that the plot underwent many revisions, including the script being entirely re-written a year into production, with only months to go until the theater release date.