For me, Aladdin is the most problematic Disney since The Sword in the Stone. No it is not in the same league of quality. In fact, the third act alone puts it above most of the other movies. But it does run into some of the same problems as Sword, and that kept it from ranking with Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and even The Rescuers Down Under as one of the true great movies from the studio.
If you’ve read my take on Sword, and actually have seen both movies, then you know what I’m referring to. The problem is that the genie is voiced by Robin
Williams, and when you ask him to do a voice performance, there is some baggage that will naturally comes along. That is, the multiple voices, the references to modern things, etc. And just like Sword, these modern references took me out of the movie. And Williams is actually annoying. I like the guy, but god, I just wanted him to shut up. Speaking of annoying voices, I know that Gilbert Gottfried sounds like a bird, but why, why for the love of god would you hire him to have a main speaking part. Every time he spoke my ears actually hurt.
The rest of my problems lie within the story and how the filmmakers approached it. This was directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, who previously did The Little Mermaid (and went on to do another one of the greats, but more on that later), and so, it actually suffers from a weak and rather uninspired first act. It is you usual story of a poor boy and cloistered princess falling in love. There would be no problem with this, there’s just nothing original in how it is told. Eventually it did get better, but that doesn’t take away from this first part. Also, they relied too much on CG to create some of the environments. It was used very well in Beauty & the Beast in creating one of the most beautiful scenes ever. But how they used it here actually makes the movie seemed too aged.
Also, for the most parts the characters are uninteresting. I liked Aladdin just fine. But Jasmine is the second-worst Disney princess. First, her voice is annoying; second, she is just so whiny. I do understand that they are trying to make her come across as an independent woman in a time when they were oppressed, but she comes across, as a pampered girl that didn’t get what she wants. And while her character does get better from the latter part of the second act, she is not a character of much substance.
The same goes for Jafar. While I do like his motivation for being evil, I did not like his plan. I don’t know it just seems weak. But again, by the end of the second act he redeems himself.
In fact, the whole movie redeems its self during this part. Here, the plot gets going, and it turns out that it actually has a nice, if overdone plot. Also, the filmmakers did an outstanding job in staging the action. Had the whole movie been like this, it would have been a masterpiece. However, since we only have .166 of a very good movie, and a third of a great one, it’ll just have to settle for being on top of my “good Disney” list for the time being.