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Aladdin (SE)
DVD disk
10.20.2004 By: The Shootin Surgeon
Aladdin (SE) order
Ron Clements & John Musker

Scott Weinger
Robin Williams
Linda Larkin


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In yet another Disney animated fanfare, Aladdin (Weinger), a poor Arabian thief, benefits from the help of a powerful genie (Williams) in order to save his beloved princess Jasmine (Larkin) from being betrothed to the evil vizier Jafar (Jonathan Freeman).
ALADDIN was part of the new crop of Disney heroes to emerge in the early nineties and did so in great fashion with this first feature film, chock full of the usual catchy songs, cute characters and a straightforward love story about good versus evil. With young lovers Aladdin and Jasmine leading the way for a great cast of characters, it's a deserving part of their portfolio. Before Disney's golden touch got downloaded and downgraded into purely CGI productions, ALADDIN established itself as one of the studio's modern classics both in terms of how the film itself was appreciated and also, as yet another cross-marketing behemoth which ruled the fast-food market for months. It was well deserved as Aladdin and company gave us a thrilling ride through an old Arabian capital back when that term still evoked charm and beauty rather than car bombs and... well...more car bombs.

With some fun, upbeat songs and a more action-oriented approach, Aladdin gave way to more plain old fun, rather than to the dreamy aura of the more fairy tale oriented films that preceded it. It didn't completely detach itself from the magical world though, as it did serve up its fair share of flying carpet rides, sorcerers and magic tricks courtesy of Robin Williams as the genie in the bottle. Now while the goal of any genie in a bottle nowadays would be to rub Christina Aguilera "the right way" ever since she asked, back then it was mostly to grant wishes and entertain which was done wonderfully through the voice of Robin Williams. I'm usually not even remotely a fan of Williams, but he left behind his irritating, hyperactive self for this one and actually toned down a character which could have completely smothered the movie if done too over the top. His counterpart, the evil Jafar, was also deliciously malicious, plotting and scheming to accumulate power, wealth and the hand of the alluringly bare-naveled Princess Jasmine. ALADDIN is a must-have for any kid and for anyone with an interest in animated films.

Deleted Songs (14 mins): Includes four songs that were excluded from the final cut. "Proud of Your Boy", "You Can Count On Me", "Humiliate the Boy" and "Why Me" are all in there with some storyboards of what the sequences would have looked like. They're all preceded by a small filmmaker intro describing the song and why it was eventually left out.

Deleted Scenes (6 mins): A pair of excluded scenes here presented in storyboard version. they represent "Aladdin and Jasmine's First Meeting" and "Aladdin in the Lap of Luxury" and they're both pretty good.

Music and More (17 mins): This very full section contains two songs from the movie in different versions. the first on, "Proud of Your Boy", which does not appear in the movie can be heard via a music video with American Idol runner-up Clay Aitken. You can also get the behind-the scenes look at the making of the video as well as an original story reel of the song sequence. For the second song, the great "A Whole New World", you can view the original 1992 music video performed by Regina Belle and Peabo Bryson. It can also be seen in a brand new version by Hollywood power couple Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson, as well as with a behind-the-scenes take on the making of that video. The section also includes a selection of five songs from the film which can be played in sing-along mode with the lyrics appearing at the bottom of the screen.

Backstage Disney (full length): This is where the hardcore fans can immerse themselves in information and movie tidbits. The section contains two full length audio commentaries, the first one with director/producers John Musker and Ron Clements along with co-producer Amy Pell. The second features animators Andreas Deja (Jafar), Will Finn (Iago), Eric Goldberg (Genie) and Glen Keane (Aladdin). There's also a pop-up fact track that accompanies both of the interesting commentary tracks with lots of quick factoids about the movie, the story and everything else.


A Diamond in the Rough: The Making of Aladdin: This massive sequence, hosted by Nerd of Nerds Leonard Maltin is split up into five different categories each beginning with a panel discussion led by super nerd Maltin with the filmmakers:

- Intro: An Evening With the Creators of Aladdin and the Producers (27 mins): Nerdy Maltin introduces the panel and begins a general discussion about the film. This is about where the DVD started losing me as I started to mull the concept of "excessive information" through my mind. There's just a point you reach with every movie in which you're over saturated with information regarding it. Mega nerd Maltin makes sure we reach that quite quickly. This sequence if followed by six shorter vignettes which discuss topics ranging from the conversion of the classic Arabian tale into Aladdin, some obstacles in getting the film done and the rough beginnings of hashing out exactly what would become what in the film.

- The Music (13 mins): The same panel discusses the music of the film and follows up with three vignettes detailing recording and composing.

- The Animators (36 mins): Probably the meatiest and most interesting sequence both technically and in terms of just being fascinating to watch. The panel talk takes up the first half of this but you can easily skip through it and go to the eight short sequences which follow and discuss the technical and creative aspects of making the movie look as good as it did. It may not be anything you've never seen before, especially if you've seen the features on previous Disney releases but for some reason, the talent level involved always makes it just as interesting.

- The Voice Talent (28 mins): There's plenty of talent here both in speaking and singing and it's usually lots of fun to put faces to the voices (sometimes disappointing, but always interesting...). There's a bunch of stuff on the little clips including one on one interviews with some of the cast members and a sequence featuring Gilbert Gottfried during which lowering the volume might save some of your mom's more valuable vases.

- Made You Look! (4 mins): A conclusion by hyper nerd Maltin and the rest of the Panel in which they all give their lasting impression of their work on Aladdin.

Alan Menken: Musical Renaissance Man (20 mins): A rather longish feature about composer Alan Menken. It's interesting only because the film's music is so good but it drags on a bit.

The Art of Aladdin (9 mins): This begins with a sequence entitled Art Review in which the artists get together and discuss the artistic concepts of the film such as color palettes and backgrounds. Anyone with a bit of interest in movie production or art will get a kick out of this, especially the way they discuss the intention they have in using each color in particular scenes. That's followed by a stills gallery of Aladdin's art.

Publicity (5 mins): This last section included the original theatrical trailer, a publicity gallery with posters and such and a couple of trailers for some follow-up films, Return of Jafar and Aladdin and the King of Thieves.
A truly entertaining flick in an intense DVD package make this one a great addition to your collection and a shoo-in if you're already set up with some Disney flicks. Probably not as memorable as Disney's golden generation films, but right up there in its modern portfolio. Kids will have a blast and so will immature grown ups like me!
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