Main cast: Mena Massoud (Aladdin), Will Smith (The Genie), Naomi Scott (Princess Jasmine), Marwan Kenzari (Jafar), Alan Tudyk (Iago), Navid Negahban (The Sultan), Nasim Pedrad (Dalia), Billy Magnussen (Prince Anders), Numan Acar (Hakim), and Robby Haynes (Razoul)
Director: Guy Ritchie
This Aladdin is of course a live action remake of the 1992 animated version, both from Disney. As remakes go, things remain mostly the same, barring some changes to the words of some of the songs – supposedly to “suit the characters better”, but we all know it’s because some of the lines in those songs won’t pass go in today’s more politically correct climate – and a ramping up of the feminist angle with some unintentionally hilarious results.
Jasmine, the princess of the Kingdom of Agrabah, is upset that she is expected to marry for political reasons rather than true. She wants to marry for love. Screw responsibility – it’s all about her, you see! This is what the Sultan gets for allowing his daughter to take up gender studies in college. Jasmine doesn’t want to marry Prince Anders from the Kingdom of Skinhead, er, Skånland, but while she is infatuated with Prince Ali Abawa, she’s not putting out until he proves that he is woke enough to respect her desire to indulge in her every whims without being oppressed by patriarchal notions like responsibilities and obligations to her people and country. He then proves how woke he is by sneaking her out of the palace and wooing her on a magic carpet, and that’s when she realizes that he’s Aladdin, a peasant who once rescued and befriended her – it’s hard to recognize him when he’s bedecked with bling bling, I guess. He’s like, no, he’s actually a royalty pretending to be a peasant, but that’s okay, he’s actually a champagne socialist like her, and when they marry, they will raise taxes for all the working class so that climate change can be prevented.
Ali Abawa is, of course, Aladdin who has the help of the Genie, who gives him three wishes to woo and impress
the bank account he wants to marry his true love with bling bling, but his time may be running out as Jafar, the evil vizier of the Sultan, wants the Genie’s wishes and the throne and everything, and he will not stop until he has it.
This is a more woke version, so of course the bad guy is the only one who resembles the stereotypical Arabic man the most, while all the good guys look like modern day members of a college diversity charter playing dress-up for a warm-up rehearsal before the latest Antifa protest. Fortunately, Jafar is played by Marwan Kenzari, the only sexy cast member who looks like he has genitals, and yes, there are pictures of his willy online if you want proof that he really does have dangling bits between his legs. Everyone else is just kind of there, aside from Will Smith who does a Smurf version of the Prince of Bel-Air in his effort to erase Robin Williams’s take of the Genie from the minds of people old enough to remember.
And I don’t why, but Will Smith is given some singing duties on songs not sung by the Genie in the original movie, a puzzling misfire of a decision as Mr Smith is clearly a better rapper than a singer, and let’s face it, he’s not that good a rapper in the first place. NE-YO did a killer cover of Friend Like Me a few years back, so I don’t know why they didn’t get someone like him to do the Genie’s singing part. Maybe Mr Smith’s ego can’t take it, I guess, but I sigh each time Will Smith kills his songs – and I don’t mean that in a good way.
There is a new song for Jasmine, Speechless, which is meant to be some girl power anthem about how women should not be silenced, and Naomi Scott is easily the best singer of the younger cast, but this is a treacly ballad when the words are calling for a loud, triumphant battle rally of a song, so it’s already kind of off from the moment of conception. Melody-wise, it does not fit in well with the other songs in the movie – the arrangement and riffs sound way too twenty-first century in comparison.
Having watched the original animated version a few times – thanks to kids around the house – I’m quite indifferent to this version of Aladdin because there aren’t many good reasons to watch this instead of the 1992 original. If anything, the introduction of champagne socialist values makes Jasmine come off even more like an irresponsible, self-absorbed dingbat here, and given that she displays zero empathy for anything other than her own wishes and wants as she lives in her privileged bubble, I bet her rule will go as well as that of a certain Prime Minister of Canada. That and better vocal performances in the original – without the lame self-censorship of this PC version – point to the original still being so much better. Plus, Robin Williams.