Aladdin is often perceived as the weakest film of 'The Big Four' group but I think that all of them offer something unique and entertain in their own ways. After the smash success of Beauty and the Beast the year before, Aladdin had the difficult task of trying to replicate or surpass its predecessor's glowing reputation (both critically and financially). But even if it didn't quite surpass BatB critically, it was nonetheless a smashing success and is still one of Disney's most appealing films. The third film helmed by legendary duo of Ron Clements and John Musker, Aladdin had a very difficult production where many things had to be reworked and many characters had to undergo many changes. Jeffrey Katzenberg came close to shutting down the project completely, but, thankfully, all the retooling worked, and the result is one of the most funny, heartfelt and beautiful Disney movies that ever graced the screen. Legendary composer Alan Menken returned to compose the score and his late partner Howard Ashman contributed some of the songs, making this his final work before his unfortunate death. Renowned lyricist Tim Rice had to step up to complete and create additional songs for the movie. In the end, all the troubles and problems paid off because not only do we have an appealing story, but also one of the best ensemble pieces and some of the most unforgettable characters in the entire canon. We cannot think of Aladdin and not think about the Genie. This wonderful creation - the product of Eric Goldberg's fantastic animation and Robin Williams's superb voice acting - is one of the best and most hilarious characters to ever come from the studio. It's true that when he makes his appearances in the film, he does tend to overshadow the rest of the characters, but fortunately the filmmakers were wise enough to introduce him late in the picture so we can get to know the rest of the cast beforehand. And what a cast it is! Jafar is one of the best and most menacing villains to come from the studio and Aladdin is one of the most appealing heroes, one you can relate to and root for throughout the entire movie; and that's a good thing because, even if the Genie is a powerful presence, we never forget that this is Aladdin's story and we care for him the entire time. Added to this is top-notch humour that doesn't feel dated and is still as funny as it was 21 years ago, and fantastic songs that help the story flow more easily. As with its predecessor, the animation was also pushed to new heights and that can be seen in the 'Cave of Wonders' sequence which was done with the aid of computers and is one of the best sequences in the movie. And who can forget the "A Whole New World" scene which pairs one of the studio's best songs with some fantastic animation? You can't help but be swept away every time you see it. Aladdin may not be held as highly as Beauty and the Beast but it ended up being another huge success at the box office and took home the same Academy Awards that its predecessor did (Best Song and Best Score). More importantly though, Aladdin is still widely beloved by audiences all over the world today and remains one of the studio's brightest spots. A classic. Rating: 5/5.
Next Week - Animated Classic #32 Review: The Lion King (1994)