The Lion King – Rewatch Review of the Animated Classic

the lion king animated movie - simba on rock
King of all “the sun touches.” Not bad, eh?

This week the rebooted version of The Lion King arrives in theaters. But before that happens, I want to say a few things. To start with, the original 1994 Lion King is one of the best Disney movies EVER. For me, it’s right after The Little Mermaid, and that’s saying a lot.

The Lion King came out during the Disney Renaissance, rescuing Disney from the doldrums of mediocre films they were plagued with post-Golden Age. To have this movie as a remake now, as a “live action” reboot (it’s all CGI, folks), is a BIG BIG deal. The live action versions of Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and Dumbo don’t even come close. The Lion King is da biggie.

So I did a rewatch last night of the animated classic. And guess what? It not only held up over the years, but surpassed my memories. The Lion King is simply spectacular, in every way. It’s filmatically beautiful, has a great plot, cool characters, good musical interludes, and some truly enjoyable humor.

And Hakana Matata? Well, if I could live a life of “No worries”, I’d be a happy human.

So, the film. If you watch the gorgeous opening scene, I challenge you to not cry for joy. “The Circle Of Life” is one of the best movie introductions ever set to film. I can’t think of anything else that comes close. (Let me know if you can in the comment section below.)

I have a really, really long list of cool thoughts and notes I took during my rewatch, but Comic Con in San Diego starts tonight, and I have to get ready to become a Jedi Knight. So what I’ll do is make a simple bullet-point listing and add my handwritten notes to this article as the week goes on.

I’ll also be Live-Tweeting Comic Con. And now I must be going. I think you’ll like my Lion King notes, once I add them. There’s a lot to discuss.

In the meantime, enjoy the original 1994 Lion King trailer:

Surprise! The Lion King is a Hamlet Remake

lion king characters
Lion King Crew. You can probably name every character here.

As you may know there, is a controversy that surrounds The Lion King. The fact that it possibly stole its entire movie from one called Kimba the White Lion is one ting…but we’re not talking about that here. We are going to be talking about how the Lion King is basically Hamlet with lions.

And yes, I mean the Shakespeare Hamlet too, and not some play or movie about a baby pig. So if you don’t know Hamlet like you should, here’s a brief reminder:

The king has a brother and that brother kills the king. The king prior to death had a son. The son now has to kill his uncle and reclaim the throne. 

There’s the very short and sweet reminder of Hamlet. (Sparknotes should take notes on how it’s done.) Either way, today I’m going to be comparing the Lion King (which is loosely based on Hamlet) to Hamlet (1996), which is essentially a word for word re-imagining. Obviously, this battle is pretty even. Let’s compare the two and see how they stack up to each other.

The Villain—

First things first, Scar and Claudius and drastically different characters for the better of each story. Scar, I would say, is a dictator, where as Claudius is a king. Claudius is very methodical and punctual with his words and actions, where as Scar when he gets power runs everything downhill. Scar doesn’t think about the betterment of all his people, but Claudius does. That said, it does mean that it’s more satisfying to see Scar lose in the end, than it is to see Claudius lose.

But if I had to give it up to which movie killed off its villain better, I would go with Hamlet.

Hamlet fighting scene
Hamlet fights for his right to party.

The Love Interest—

We have Nala and Ophelia. Nala is basically a side character that only really serves for one music number, and to push the main character to fulfill their destiny. Weirdly enough, Ophelia has a musical number too. Nala is very basic — interesting and better than most side characters in movies — but still basic. Ophelia starts out as a confused girl who then just snaps to crazy. It’s kind of jarring, but she dies shortly after, so it’s all good.

simba and nala in lion king
Hamlet and The Lion King. One lady is insane. And the other is a princess. Do you recall which is which?

Ghost Dad—

Weird one to put in, but I wanted to mention it. In Hamlet, ghost dad simply acts as like a Macguffin to inform Hamlet about the foul play in his death. But ghost dad in Lion King acts as a guiding light for Simba. When Simba is confused and unsure, ghost dad comes in to guide him in the right direction. Ghost dad in Hamlet just yells at his son to avenge his murder.

Hamlet/Simba—

The main man/lion. I’m going to keep this bareboned. Simba is a scared, confused, yet growing character who realizes what needs to happen, and grows to become the lion he needs to be. Hamlet just kinda goes from mad to slightly insane, then back to mad.

Kenneth Branagh still brings many complex emotions through his acting, but the character as a whole has just about those three emotions, looking back on it.

The Queen—

The queens are completely different characters in these movies. In Hamlet she is a woman who loves her son, marries a murderer willingly, and falls victim to the king’s evil ploys against Hamlet. In Lion King the queen is not really seen ,but from what we do see she is forced into marriage, doesn’t put up with the “king’s” rule, but still loves her son. 

hamlet the movie
You can’t beat a good confetti cannon.

Overall, The Lion King vs Hamlet–

In the end, if I honestly had to say which of these movies is better, that would depend on who you are.

If you’re an absolute film nerd and want to see something beautifully done, you can watch both of these. If you mainly love Shakespeare, then watch Hamlet, since it’s more true to the original tale.

But let’s face it, you’re not just watching 4 hours worth of movie regardless of any high praise I could give it, if you’re a true fan of good films. 

The Lion King – Can Disney Remake a Masterpiece?

My two cents worth as I anticipate The Lion King this week. I’m fascinated to see how Disney can remake a masterpiece. The original movie was amazing, and the stage musical was also, in an entirely different way. When my daughter, Destiny, and I saw the musical in Chicago, we were absolutely blown away by the production and costumes. I didn’t think I could love the movie anymore, but I did even more after the musical experience.

Destiny and I love ALL things Disney, and we are amazed at their attention to detail.  I’ve also taken the leadership course at Disney Institute, and their behind the scenes operational ethics are inspiring. For example, when Disney was making the Lion King musical, they spent months figuring out how to make the stage elephant blink perfectly, timely, and look real, simultaneously.

I especially can’t wait until I see the opening scene of the movie. I literally cry every time I see it, and I cried during the musical as well. They used live animals to enter from the back of the theatre, and walked to the stage (Pride Rock) —  and it was absolutely the most amazing and breathtaking thing I had seen in all my life.

Like many of you, I’ve seen The Lion King, via DVD, more than 25 times, and I know every scene and song. So to say, I’ll be especially sensitive watching the remake to ensure Disney didn’t ruin my ultimate love affair with my DVD replay. This is an understatement. I’m sure Disney is feeling the pressure too, but if I know them at all, this too, will be A+ amazing.

So don’t underestimate the magic of Disney. Walt Disney and the entire staff thrive on his words: “If you can dream it, you can do it.”  And on Thursday, July 19, Disney. will. do. it. again! (Exhale)

The Lion King – Lyrics and Video to Hakuna Matata

The Lion Sleeps Tonight Lyrics & Video from The Lion King

 

The Lion Sleeps Tonight Lyrics & Video from The Lion King

the lion king animated movie - simba on rock
King of all he surveys. Not bad, eh?

Innnn the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonigtttt…..A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh…

This classic song is well known, but most don’t realize the name isn’t In the Jungle. Even if you ask Alexa for In the Jungle, she knows what song you mean but corrects you first: it’s called The Lion Sleeps Tonight. But I honestly think a lot of people just sing A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh a few times, and everyone gets the reference. Remind me to run that by Alexa later. 🙂

In the meantime, this 1961 tune, by whatever name, is a fun karaoke favorite. The lyrics fit perfectly into Disney’s 1994 animated The Lion King.

The Lion King is among the top movies of the beloved Disney Renaissance Period, along with The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and a small second handful of Top Tier movies…many of which, including The Lion King, are undergoing a remake phase. (Dumbo got the same treatment, but it’s thematically, deeply problematic.)

The upcoming “live action” Lion King technically isn’t one. It’s entirely CGI. (Duh.) But from the trailers it looks exciting enough, and will hopefully retain the best musical numbers, including The Circle of Life,  Hakuna Matata, and The Lion Sleeps Tonight. Let’s get excited and ready for the retelling of Simba, Nala, Timone, and Pumbaa (And James Earl Jones is back to reprise his seminal role!) by learning the words to The Lion Sleeps and singing along. Song clip is followed by the lyrics below!

Song to The Lion Sleeps Tonight, by The Tokens, 1961

Lyrics to The Lion Sleeps Tonight

(By The Tokens)

A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh
A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh
A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh
A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh

In the jungle, the mighty jungle
The lion sleeps tonight
In the jungle the quiet jungle
The lion sleeps tonight

A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh
A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh
A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh
A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh

Near the village the peaceful village
The lion sleeps tonight
Near the village the quiet village
The lion sleeps tonight

A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh
A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh
A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh
A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh

Hush my darling don’t fear my darling
The lion sleeps tonight
Hush my darling don’t fear my darling
The lion sleeps tonight

A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh
A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh
A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh
A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh…

(Songwriters: George David Weiss / Hugo E. Peretti / Luigi Creatore
The Lion Sleeps Tonight lyrics © Concord Music Publishing LLC)

The Lion King – Lyrics and Video to Hakuna Matata

A Whole New World – Aladdin Lyrics and Video (1992 Animated Version)

Dumbo – Lyrics and Video to the Original Disney Classic Song Baby Mine

The Lion King – Lyrics and Video to Hakuna Matata

the lion king log scene
We should all try to live the hakuna matata lifestyle…

The most charming song in the  1994’s beloved The Lion King is where Pumbaa, Timon, and Simba sing Hakuna Matata. Which means, as the meerkat and wildebeast cheerfully describe, “No worries.” A good philosophy…can you watch this scene without smiling?

It’s pleasant, funny, and even meaningful — remember the iconic moment where the three friends walk across a log, signaling the passage of time as Simba grows from cub to adult lion? (Sniff. Awww.)

Something you probably didn’t know is that Elton John was one of the songwriters for this sweet little film little interlude. We can only hope Hakuna Matata is included in the rebooted “live action” (actually CGI) Lion King movie, out this summer in 2019.

Note: Hakuna Matata’s got…farting and belching jokes. A little risque for 1990s Disney, but it underlies the underdog and acceptance theme well. We would all be lucky to have accepting, affectionate friends like Pumbaa and Timone. We should also try to adopt a certain No Worries mind-set in such troublesome times. We’d all be a lot happier and nicer to each other. 🙂

Watch the Hakuna Matata sequence and learn the lyrics (below)

Lyrics to The Lion King’s Hakuna Matata

Hakuna Matata!
What a wonderful phrase
Hakuna Matata!
Ain’t no passing craze

It means no worries
For the rest of your days
It’s our problem-free philosophy
Hakuna Matata!

Why, when he was a young warthog
When I was a young wart-hoooog!
Very nice!
Thanks!
He found his aroma lacked a certain appeal
He could clear the Savannah after every meal
I’m a sensitive soul, though I seem thick-skinned
And it hurt that my friends never stood downwind
And oh, the shame
(He was ashamed!)
Thought of changin’ my name
(Oh, what’s in a name?)
And I got downhearted
(How did you feel?)
Every time that I-
Pumbaa! Not in front of the kids!
Oh… sorry

Hakuna Matata!
What a wonderful phrase
Hakuna Matata!
Ain’t no passing craze
It means no worries
For the rest of your days
Yeah, sing it, kid!
It’s our problem-free philosophy

Hakuna Matata!
Hakuna Matata
Hakuna Matata
Hakuna Matata

Hakuna
It means no worries
For the rest of your days
It’s our problem-free philosophy
Hakuna Matata…

[Songwriters: Elton John / Tim Rice
Hakuna Matata lyrics © Walt Disney Music Company]

Movie Review – Aladdin (2019) – A Live Action Remake, Good for the Target Audience

Movie Review - AladdinThe 2019 live-action remake of Aladdin is a difficult movie to review, because I’m not the target audience — that’s mainly young kids. Personally, I found the movie to be occasionally entertaining at best, and barely tolerable for the rest. There were a few laughs here and there, and rarely did the song and dance bits drag on too long.

If you’re a parent taking their kids to see this movie, then you could do worse.

Based on the audience reaction in my theater, (mostly kids under 16) it will be a hit. Three teenage girls sat in the back row and laughed throughout.

The plot is simple and clear enough that young children will be able to follow along, and if not, there’s enough singing, dancing, and action to entertain them.

Will Smith is one of the few actors with the charisma to perform the role of Genie. I think Will did fine, but he fell short of making it iconic. I’d give him a B+.

I only vaguely remember the plot of the Disney Aladdin from 1992. From what I recall this retelling is generally the same, except Jasmine’s character has been fleshed out more. It wouldn’t be misleading if they changed the title to “Jasmine” or at the very least, “Jasmine & Aladdin,” since it’s mainly about womens’ empowerment, like “Mulan”. What do you think?

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: I have 2 recommended Peetimes, both near the middle of the movie. The 1st of the Recommended Peetimes is a song/dance scene that young kids may enjoy, but it’s easy to summarize. The 2nd Recommended Peetime is all dialog. There’s a little humor, but not much. You choose which works best for you.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Aladdin. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG) for some action/peril
Genres: Adventure, Comedy, Family, Remake

Rewatch Review – Disney’s Animated Aladdin (1992) – A Classic Film with Deeply Modern Flaws

Aladdin –  Animated vs Stage vs Live Action

A Whole New World – Aladdin Lyrics and Video (1992 Animated Version)

Rewatch Review – Disney’s Animated Aladdin (1992) – A Classic Film with Deeply Modern Flaws

robin williams as genie in animated aladdin
Robin William’s Genie, mugging for the camera in the animated Aladdin.

The animated Aladdin of 1992 is a beloved Disney classic. It’s one of the great films of the Disney Renaissance Era, and features A Whole New World, a TOP EVER song of ever in the the Disney oeuvre. Yet parts of Aladdin are deeply problematic to modern audiences. Disney is going out on a limb here, and I’m not sure this was the best live action remake to do right now (which I also found at issue with the live action Dumbo choice).

First, The Genie is a Slave

It may be the overt racism isn’t as acceptable/noticeable now as it was in ’92. But let’s be real: the tale of Aladdin isn’t a modern one. Aladdin was recorded in the 18th century and had a prior rich oral tradition previously, stretching back to ancient times. Yes, the Genie was always a slave — the plot demands this — so I don’t know how they can even make this story work in 2019 without that uncomfortable element. The repeated prattle about finding the ‘diamond in the rough’ is all about Aladdin freeing the Genie. Aladdin doesn’t do anything else more worthy than any compassionate street rat would. No slave, no story.

Even the wonderfully crafted X-Files Je Souhaite doesn’t bother to avoid the sticky slavery aspect: at least here the jinn in question doesn’t wear actual chains. (And Mulder is a better, smarter Aladdin than anyone else ever, full stop. I won’t spoil his very intellectual, lawyerly three wishes.)

In 2019, depicting the Genie as a black/blue slave is…not exactly copacetic. It doesn’t matter that he’s freed at the end. He’s got metal wrist bands, and is trapped in a small vial for centuries. He has to please whoever rubs the lamp (oh, and ewww).

(BTW: that thing really doesn’t seem remotely lamplike…how is that tea kettle supposed to make light? Am I missing something?)
And you’re going to have to explain a few things to kids about slavery and Arabian culture/history. (For example — cutting a hand off for stealing bread or an apple was an accepted thing, you know.)
Let’s move on from the racism and ignorant Islamic-adjacent stereotypes for this review, shall we?

The Robin Williams Genie Controversy

What else is an issue for the live action version? For one, no one really wants to see anyone else replace the late, manic, fantasmic Williams as the iconic blue Genie.

Non-slave aspects…there’s the equally unpleasant reminder that Williams killed himself years after Aladdin came out. I think most people appreciate the manic aspect of The Genie as part of William’s brilliance/illness, but neglect to recall his intense depression. It eventually killed him. On the one hand we want to preserve Aladdin as one of William’s career peaks (granted, there are many, but not so much in the Disney-verse).

On the other hand, it’s uncomfortable to be reminded of how society failed this brilliant performer. If an A Lister in Hollywood can’t find help, what does that bode for the average bi-polar/depressed individual?

This doesn’t even open the can of worms a Will Smith casting gives us for the Live Action Aladdin remake. He’s black, so there’s the slave awkward thing again. And then he has to approximate the humor of the original Genie. I hope HOPE HOPE they take this in a new direction, because no one can be Robin Williams. They shouldn’t try. I’ll find out soon — Will Smith is nominally a versatile and talented actor. So, I bet if there’s a problem with his portrayal, it’s in the script. I can’t speak to the casting until I see it, but this is a troubling role to take on, at best.

Jafar, Iago, and Other Notes on the Animated Aladdin

Let’s talk about the animated Aladdin film in positive terms. When it starts, it’s really cleverly 4th wall breaking: the “storyteller” (voiced Robin Williams at his smary best) frames the movie as a narrative. Amusingly, the ‘camera’ gets distracted and wanders away when the anthropomorphic framing device peddler person goes off-topic. I loved Deadpool framing his films…I didn’t know Disney did it before him. It’s a bit short, but very cute.

One neat thing is how Iago (Gilbert Gottfried) actually talks. We’ve seen animal sidekicks speak before, but this is a parrot. Parrots talk! The monkey and tiger, the other sidekicks in Aladdin, don’t talk. That’s clever, as parrots actually DO speak. I had enough parrots growing up to realize parrots are smart enough to make connections between what they say and what they feel. I was happy to see an animal sidekick that could possibly do Human-speak in a Disney film. (Yep, I’m easily pleased.)

Jafar, the villain, is an oily one. He could be cross-species ‘brothers’ with Scar (from the Lion King) or married to The Little Mermaid’s Ursula (also cross-species, more or less). Note these characters all fall within the same Disney Era. It’s the formula that worked back then.  🙂

The magic carpet is really kind of awesome, and reminds me of Dr. Strange’s playfully loyal cloak.

But, really…there’s a lot of filmatic references to other classic movies here.  Moment from Raiders of the Lost Arc, from Titanic. That could be an entire article itself, so I’ll keep on keeping on.

Also worth noting — as this is a film from the Disney Renaissance period —  is how A Whole New World entices young people (or as in The Lion King, animals) to follow a path they never planned: to follow their dreams. This song works wonderfully here.

Who is the Disney Classic Aladdin MVP?

Um. Hey, wait…Aladdin is an orphan and a Chosen One? Ever see that anywhere before? (Answer — many many times before, with and without magic. And I bet the entire Internet we see it after Aladdin too.)

Back to to Robin Williams as the manic Genie. It’s a whole world of sad now, knowing Williams ended his own life via suicide. He made the Genie something special — something giddy and outstanding —  in his depictions of the wildly excitable magic-wish-giver.

I don’t know how the live-action version with Will Smith could even come close, since this was probably the closest Williams came to creating his own persona via film, and no one can truly compete. Honestly, I’m not sure how the animators followed William’s improv as well as they did. This version of the classic is worth watching just for seeing Williams on top of his game (even though he doesn’t appear until the half-way point in the film).

The past and future of Disney Live Action

Overall, Aladdin the film is still kind of cool, although it’s not as exciting as I remembered.  It’s no Little Mermaid, Lion King, or Beauty & The Beast (the top representatives from the Disney Renaissance Era, which all hold up so nicely.)

What stands out is how this is a Disney Princess tale where the princess takes a back seat. It’s a male-focused movie, and that’s a welcome branch off the typical trope. Jasmine isn’t sidelined at all, but the POV is about the ‘prince’.

That’s unusual. Imagine Eric from The Little Mermaid being the main POV, or even the otherwise bland Prince Charming from Cinderella. I think that would be interesting for the next live-action versions.

However: one of the most important and enduring aspects of Aladdin remains the same as it has for centuries…if you could have three wishes granted, what would they be? And how would you word them to escape the inevitable sneaky clauses?

A Whole New World – Aladdin Lyrics and Video (1992 Animated Version)

aladdin magic carpet with jasminBack in 1992, Aladdin charmed audiences with Disney’s usual blend of great animation, voice work, humor, casting, and a brand of cynicism-free earnestness typical of Disney’s Renaissance Era. Aladdin nests among the top rank of the films in this period, starting in 1998 with The Little Mermaid, and ending with 1999’s Tarzan. Aladdin’s best-known lyrics to A Whole New World codifies the trope of a young person (or animal) following an unknown path to explore their dreams. Sit back and return to a simpler, happier year with the video & lyrics to this beloved song.

Lyrics to Aladdin – A Whole New World

[Aladdin, 1992, by Lea Salonga & Brad Kane]

I can show you the world
Shining, shimmering splendid
Tell me, princess, now when did
You last let your heart decide?

I can open your eyes
Take you wonder by wonder
Over sideways and under
On a magic carpet ride

A whole new world
A new fantastic point of view
No one to tell us no
Or where to go
Or say we’re only dreaming

A whole new world
A dazzling place I never knew
But when I’m way up here
It’s crystal clear
That now I’m in a whole new world with you

Now I’m in a whole new world with you

Unbelievable sights
Indescribable feeling
Soaring, tumbling, freewheeling
Through an endless diamond sky

A whole new world (Don’t you dare close your eyes)
A hundred thousand things to see (Hold your breath, it gets better)
I’m like a shooting star
I’ve come so far
I can’t go back to where I used to be

A whole new world (Every turn a surprise)
With new horizons to pursue (Every moment, red-letter)
I’ll chase them anywhere
There’s time to spare
Let me share this whole new world with you

A whole new world (A whole new world)
That’s where we’ll be (That’s where we’ll be)
A thrilling chase
A wondrous place
For you and me

[Songwriters: Alan Menken / Tim Rice
A Whole New World Aladdin Lyrics © Walt Disney Music Company]

 

Aladdin –  Animated vs Stage vs Live Action

Dumbo – Lyrics and Video to the Original Disney Classic Song Baby Mine

Movie Review – Dumbo – A live action remake your kids will enjoy

Movie Review – Beauty and The Beast (live action version)

Aladdin –  Animated vs Stage vs Live Action

aladdin disney live action posterThe Aladdin remake will be flying into theaters soon.  This will be Disney’s third version of this popular story, including the 2014 Broadway musical.  So how does it compare to its predecessors? Let’s find out.

NOTE:  Aladdin article contains SPOILERS.  

Aladdin Sidekicks

In the animated film, Aladdin has a monkey pal named Abu and an anthropomorphized magic carpet.  Princess Jasmine has a pet tiger named Rajah.

In the musical, Aladdin has a magic carpet but it does not high-five.  It mainly has one big moment — and you can guess what that is. Abu is missing from the stage version.  One can imagine how difficult it would be to train a small monkey for this part. Or how ridiculous a man in a monkey costume might look playing the role!  Similarly, Jasmine does not get her tiger. However, Aladdin does get three new human friends named Babkak, Omar, and Kassim who provide plenty of comic relief.  

In the live action movie, Rajah appears to be back.  And I’ve seen Abu and the magic carpet interacting with each other briefly in one promo.  

Sadly, Babkak, Omar, and Kassim were not included in the new film.

New Characters in Aladdin

The live action remake introduces two significant new characters not found in the musical or the animated film.  One is Dalia, Princess Jasmine’s loyal handmaiden and confidante, who provides some comic relief. The other is Prince Anders, a suitor and potential husband (yeah, right) for Jasmine from the kingdom of Skånland.  

Iago – Jafar’s Henchman

Jafar’s loud parrot henchman, an audience favorite, was voiced by Gilbert Gottfried in the original film.  

On Broadway, the role of Iago was originated by Don Darryl Rivera, and Iago is not a parrot but a human being.  He is still Jafar’s henchman.

In the new movie, Iago is a parrot again.  However, the character is voiced by Alan Tudyk.  It’s the first time the character has been voiced by someone other than Gottfried, who has been the voice of Iago since 1992.  Gottfried has voiced the character in movies, TV shows, video games, and even in a Disney World attraction.

will smith as the aladdin genieThe Genie

Robin Williams played the Genie in the animated film in one of his most beloved roles of all time.  Williams was already like a living cartoon character, and now he got to be one. The medium was the perfect vehicle for his manic energy and his gift for impersonation.    

On stage, the song “Friend Like Me” remains a showstopper — even with a live human being who only has the benefit of stage magic and back-up dancers.   (The televised Tony performance does not do justice to the effect of the full set and stage effects.) The actor does not wear blue paint on their body (think Elphaba in Wicked), but has a flashy blue outfit on instead.  He does not try to be Robin Williams because no one can replicate that performance. Rather, he puts his own spin on the character and finds his own way to make the Genie charming and larger than life.

Will Smith’s Genie is a mix of live-action and CGI and is even blue for part of the movie.  He is able to do things that can’t be done on stage — closer to the animated version.  It will be fun to see what the filmmakers do with this new version of the Genie that exists between live action and animation.

The Music of Aladdin

The original animated film is famous for the romantic ballad “A Whole New World” and the humorous “Friend Like Me.”  These are both previewed in the trailer for the new film, and footage has been released of Will Smith singing “Prince Ali.”

The track list for the new movie has not been released yet.  However, it’s safe to assume that most (if not all) of the songs from the original film will be reappear in the new one, including opening number “Arabian Nights” and “One Jump Ahead”.

The Broadway show contains these same songs, but also some new numbers, including “Babkak, Omar, Aladdin, Kassim” about the main character and his three troublemaker buddies.  

Other New Songs from the Musical Include:

“Proud of Your Boy”  (sung by Aladdin)

“A Million Miles Away” (sung by Aladdin and Jasmine )

“Diamond in the Rough” (sung by Jafar to convince Aladdin to get the lamp)

“High Adventure”  (sung by Babkak, Omar, and Kasim)

“Somebody’s Got Your Back” (sung by Aladdin to his friends)

The Cave of Wonders

(Note: From this point on, I am mostly comparing the animated film and the Broadway musical.  I have not been able to see the new movie yet, and there is still an embargo on reviews.)

In the animated version, Jafar seeks the lamp at the Cave of Wonders and is told only a diamond in the rough may enter, at the beginning of the film.  In the musical, this happens later in Act I after the audience has already met Aladdin and Jasmine.

In both versions, Jafar figures out Aladdin is the diamond in the rough, and Aladdin is captured by the palace guards after meeting Jasmine. Jafar uses him to try to get the lamp.  In the movie, Jafar disguises himself as an old man, and frees Aladdin and Abu before taking them to the cave. In the musical, Jafar keeps his original form and stops Aladdin from being executed.

In both versions, Aladdin is instructed to touch nothing but the lamp.

In the movie, Aladdin finds a magic carpet and Abu takes a jewel in addition to the lamp.  Aladdin and Abu rush to fly out of the collapsing cave on the carpet. They give the lamp to Jafar, who pushes them back into the cave, but not before Abu steals the lamp back.  In the musical, Aladdin is tempted to take some golden coins along with the lamp, and is trapped when the cave seals itself off.

In all three versions, this is when Aladdin rubs the lamp, meets the Genie, and Genie sings “Friend Like Me” by way of introduction.  Aladdin then tricks Genie into freeing him from the cave without using up one of his wishes.

aladdin magic carpet with jasminRomancing Jasmine

In both versions of the story, Jasmine escapes from the palace and visits Agrabah in disguise, where she meets Aladdin.  This is where the story begins. Aladdin’s first wish, even in the trailer for the newest movie, is to become a prince so that he can woo the princess.  (“There’s a lot of gray area in ‘Make me a prince.’”) Act II of the musical begins with “Prince Ali” — in which Genie and Aladdin’s three besties lead a parade announcing his arrival.  

It’s one of the highlights of the animated film as well, minus his friends. In both versions, Jasmine is angry when she overhears Prince Ali discussing her future with the Sultan. He makes it up to her with a magic carpet ride and one of the most romantic songs in Disney history (“A Whole New World”).  Only then does Jasmine recognize him as Aladdin. He lies and says he only dresses as a peasant to get away from everything, like she does.

will smith as genie in Aladdin and the live action disney remakeThree Wishes

Aladdin’s first wish is always to be a prince and he always promises Genie his last wish will be to set Genie free.  In both the animated and musical versions, Aladdin is captured by the palace guards immediately following the romantic interlude.  In the animated film, he is thrown into the sea. Genie decides that the unconscious Aladdin would want to use his second wish to be saved and rescues him.  

In the musical, Aladdin is arrested for impropriety. His three buddies storm the castle to rescue him..and end up in the dungeon as well. Aladdin uses his second wish to rescue them.  Aladdin meets the Sultan in the hall and he gives Aladdin his blessing to marry Jasmine. Overwhelmed at the responsibility of being Sultan one day, Aladdin goes back on his word, telling Genie he needs to save his last wish in case he needs it someday.  In the movie, Aladdin also refuses to free Genie, fearing he’ll lose Jasmine if the truth comes out.

In both versions, Jafar steals the lamp and becomes Genie’s new master.  Aladdin tricks Jafar into wishing to become an all-powerful Genie, and then traps him in the lamp.  

In the movie, Genie encourages Aladdin to use his final wish to regain his royal title so he can be with Jasmine.  However, Aladdin sets Genie free instead. The Sultan, seeing the nobility in Aladdin, then proclaims that the princess can marry whoever she wants.  

In the musical, Aladdin sets Genie free, saying he can’t pretend to be someone he’s not. The Sultan decrees the princess can marry whoever she wants.  Aladdin’s buddies are made royal advisers.

Final Aladdin Thoughts

There are a few ways the new movie may stand apart from its predecessors.  With Guy Ritchie directing (Snatch, Sherlock Holmes, Lock Stock), this is supposed to be the most action-packed version of Aladdin we’ve seen so far.  

Early rumors were that the story is supposed to be told non-linearly, which would also fit with Ritchie’s style.

Princess Jasmine gets more of a narrative arc.  Actress Naomi Scott told Reuters, “[Jasmine] finds her voice and she goes through a journey to find it. …I want little girls to see that.”  Some viewers have complained the film is about twenty minutes or so too long.  It is a half hour longer than the animated film, and does not have an intermission like the musical.  

Be sure to use the RunPee app to get Peetimes for Aladdin.  And if you’re riding your magic carpet to see Toy Story 4, The Lion King, and Artemis Fowl, we’ll have Peetimes for them too.  You can also follow us on Twitter and FaceBook @ RunPee for the latest movie and Peetime news. 

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Prepare for #Disney’s #Aladdin with this comparison of the animated film, the #Broadway #musical, and the live action #remake.  #GoldenMan will keep you one jump ahead with his cinema knowledge. #Genie #Jasmine #Iago #Jafar #Abu #MagicCarpet #RobinWilliams #GuyRitchie #WillSmith #AWholeNewWorld #FriendLikeMe

A Whole New World – Aladdin Lyrics and Video (1992 Animated Version)

Movie Review – Beauty and The Beast (live action version)

Movie Review – Dumbo – A live action remake your kids will enjoy

Movie Review – Dumbo – A live action remake your kids will enjoy

Movie Review - DumboIf you have a toddler, Dumbo is one of the few movies in the theater now that is specifically for your child. It’s PG-rated, so your kid won’t come home and ask you questions you don’t know how to answer. If you are worried about animal mistreatment with the circus background, by the end of the movie, they did mention no animals should be kept captive.

I was born and raised in China, and watching the original 1941 Dumbo with my dad is a piece of heartwarming memory from my early childhood. I was around 5 when I first watched it on a VideoCD. It was called “小飞象”  — Little flying Elephant — in Chinese. Yes, VCDs did exist.  🙂

Walking into the theater, I didn’t have an expectation. But as I was watching it, I was that 5-year-old girl again. The story has been changed here and there to fit the live action, but the spirit has not been changed at all. As far as I’m concerned, this movie brings back almost the same feelings I experienced over two decades ago. I’d call that a successful remake.

But for adults who don’t have any emotional connections to the original piece, this movie is probably going to be clicheic and pre-mature for you. It’s a remake that tries to be true to the original piece, so it’s still head to toe a 1940s style kids’ story. Unless, of course, you just like the idea of a cute little flying elephant.

Now here’s something extra for those who have watched the TV show West World: does the little girl in Dumbo remind you of anyone? 😉

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: We have a really good (recommended) Peetime right about the middle of the movie. Try to use that if you can. The last Peetime is okay, but you’ll miss a nice father-daughter scene. The 1st Peetime is only for Emergencies, because it’s short and is immediately followed by a scene that shouldn’t be missed, especially by children.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Dumbo. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG) for peril/action, some thematic elements, and brief mild language
Genres: Adventure, Family, Fantasy, Remake, Reboot, Sequel