Making the Grades
With this third edition of the Aladdin series, Disney is trumpeting the fact that Robin Williams has returned as the voice of the Genie. Of course Williams did the first film, and was largely responsible for its overwhelming success. However, even without Williams, the second version (which like the third, was released direct to video), hung around on the top 10 video sales charts for months, generating a handsome return for Disney. Considering it was not much more than an extended Saturday morning cartoon, its performance was phenomenal, proving that a movie can bypass the big screen and still make big bucks.
My greatest thrill with Aladdin And The King Of Thieves has little to do with the return of Williams. Instead, I was happy to find a script that posed an interesting situation: Aladdin must choose between protecting his criminal father or staying honest. To add to his problems, if he chooses honesty, he must leave his father behind while he faces his future father-in-law to confess his deeds. Not an easy choice, but one that is presented frequently to children in real life, as they decide between acceptance from friends or choosing the right.
The wisecracking Williams is definitely the main focus of the movie, leaving scenes without him feeling empty and at times even boring. And don't expect to be humming your favorite tunes from this movie, as the music just isn't very memorable. Finally, if you are expecting the Disney quality you see in the theatre, prepare to be disappointed. Disney's direct to video projects are farmed out to their television animation division, so the final project rates high against Saturday morning cartoons, but can't come close to the big screen jobs.
But don't write this third Aladdin off. Most children could care less about animation quality, and this movie provides a fun story with a good lesson attached. The adults, however, will still yearn for the original Aladdin, which packs a much stronger entertainment punch with its unforgettable songs and charismatic genie.