Aladdin (USA, 1992)
Directed by Ron Clements & John Musker
Starring Scott Weinger, Robin Williams, Jonathan Freeman, Linda Larkin
There's an old saying in sport that you're only as good as the last game you played. After the success of Beauty and the Beast, the Disney Renaissance would seem to have been cemented - and in terms of public consciousness, this may be true. But that doesn't mean that everything Disney put out in the aftermath deserves such a glowing reputation. While Aladdin is by no means a bad film, it isn't quite as good as memory tells us.
Melody Time. The story wouldn't have been improved by the whole thing being this dark, but these moments do add welcome variety to what is otherwise a well-worn story.
The Rescuers Down Under about Disney actively celebrating its past. In my reviews of later Disney films, such as Tarzan, I also spoke of how this celebration was eventually consolidated into a series of overly rigid conventions, eventually resulting in such miserable dreck as Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Put simply, there's a very fine line between celebrating your past and shoving it in your audience's faces with a smug grin on your face, and Aladdin crosses this line. You could go to so far to say that in this film are the first few traces of the cynicism that would later engulf the Renaissance.
Dumbo; it's quite another to have obvious cameos from Pinocchio and Sebastian from The Little Mermaid. These things smack of someone trying to flog their other products in the midst of telling you a story, one of the few things in which Katzenberg truly excels.
The Nostalgia Chick (a.k.a. Lindsay Ellis) spoke in detail about the falling-out between Disney and Robin Williams in her video on 'good' straight-to-video Disney sequels, which you can watch here.
NEXT REVIEW: To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)