Disney recently released the 1992 hit Aladdin on Blu-ray, and I was given the chance to check out the film via Disney Movies Anywhere. For those unfamiliar with Aladdin, the story centers around the title character (voice of Scott Weinger, singing voice by Brad Kane), a homeless orphan living on the streets of the city of Agrabah. One day, while trying to avoid local law enforcement, he meets a young girl who is hiding from the guards. As it turns out, the girl is Princess Jasmine (Linda Larkin, singing voice by Lea Solonga) in disguise. She’s just run away from home after a disagreement with her father over her marriage plans.
Aladdin shows her his favorite place to hide and quickly finds himself falling for her. But, alas, Aladdin has more serious things to worry about. An evil wazir Jabar (Jonathan Freeman) whisks him away to a forbidden desert vault. There, Aladdin finds an ornate bottle and after accidentally rubbing it a few times, comes face-to-face with a blue genie (Robin Williams), who is ready to grant him three wishes. From there, with some help from a monkey named Abu and a magic carpet—works to win Jasmine’s hand in marriage.
The mixture of Robin Williams’ voice and the Disney’s animator’s excellent work makes the Genie an unforgettable character. In truth, Aladdin himself is a fairly bland guy, but every time the Genie is around, he becomes the focus of everything. For my money, the genie has to be considered among the best performances of his career. Zany, but controlled, he skewers everyone from Elvis Presley to William F. Buckley…truly hilarious. It’s a credit ti the other voice actors for keeping up with him.
Beyond Wililams’ performance, the animation is top notch. The music (courtesy of Alan Menken, the late Howard Ashman, and Tim Rice, who took over the lyricist’s duties after Ashman’s untimely death), boasts five original songs and Alan Menken won an Oscar for Best Original Score and Menken and Tim Rice won the Oscar for Best Song for “A Whole New World.”
Disney Movies Anywhere offers Aladdin in both HD and SD. I watch it in high def on both a 15 inch PC laptop and a 60 inch television and it looks and sounds great. Colors are bright and vivid and the animation looks sharp. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout. But, we are talking about a Disney release here.
Bonus Features: (All of these are also available on the Blu-ray/DVD Combo pack)
- Audio Commentaries: Two audio commentaries are available: the first with producers/directors John Musker and Ron Clements & co-producer Amy Pell, the second with supervising animators Andreas Deja, Will Finn, Eric Goldberg and Glen Keane.
- The Genie Outtakes: Robin Williams’ outtakes. At the end is a sweet tribute to the actor.
- Aladdin: Creating Broadway Magic: Actor Darren Criss takes viewers behind the scenes of the Broadway musicals.
- Unboxing Aladdin: Disney Channel’s Joey Bragg reveals easter eggs throughout Aladdin.
- Genie 101: Voice actor Scott Weinger explains some of Genie’s early historical, early cinema, and pop culture references.
- Ron & Jon: You Ain’t Never Had a Friend Like Me: The director’s discuss their partnership, friendship, Disney Studios in the 1990’s and more.
- Classic Bonus Features:
- A Diamond in the Rough: The Making of Aladdin
- Alan Menken: Musical Renaissance Man
- The Art of Aladdin: Art Review with Filmmakers’ Commentary
- Deleted Song: Proud of Your Boy, Original Demo
- Deleted Song: You Can Count on Me
- Deleted Song: Humiliate the Boy
- Deleted Song: Why Me
- Deleted/Alternate Scene: Aladdin & Jasmine’s First Meeting
- Deleted/Alternate Scene: Aladdin in the Lap of Luxury
- Music Video: “Proud of Your Boy” with Clay Aiken
- Proud of Your Boy Original Story Reel
- Behind the Scenes of “Proud of Your Boy”
- Music Video: “A Whole New World” with Jessica Simpson & Nick Lachey
- Behind the Scenes of “A Whole New World”
- Music Video: “A Whole New World” with Regina Belle & Peabo Bryson
- Disney Song Selection with Optional On-Screen Lyrics
- Inside the Genie’s Lamp: Guided Tour
- The Genie World Tour
- Publicity: Trailers