Easter Eggs in Aladdin and The Lion King – Disney References Past Movies

Lion King: Timon
Be our guest, be our guest, put our service to the test!

Who knew classic, straight-laced, non-Pixar, Original Flavor Disney would start using Easter Eggs? It’s possible they’ve been doing this all along and I haven’t noticed, but usually there’s not a whiff of cross-pollination between, say, Princess properties. No nods to Snow White in Sleeping Beauty, for example, even though both feature winsome lasses in comas needing True Love’s Kiss. (Great plot resolution, folks. Sheesh.)

But then Pixar came around, relying on fresh humor often aimed squarely at adults. Pixar wasn’t afraid to mix up their universes with dozens of Easter Eggs for sharp-eyed fans to spot, especially on re-watches.

The Pixar Theory, and Beyond

In fact, there’s an entire Pixar Theory devoted to the notion that every Pixar film — with settings from the dawn of the dinosaurs, through to man’s diaspora through space — is one long, related story. Eagle-eyed viewers pour over every frame of Pixar films to spot connections between them. I’ve looked for, and found, Rex from Toy Story as a wood carving in Brave. This lends credence to the Boo (from Monsters, Inc) Theory. These things aren’t accidents.

The Carlin Brothers do a great job illustrating the Pixar Theory in their longish video (below). I think some of it’s too reachy, but the idea is fabulous and I’m willing to go all in.

It’s not just Pixar that does Easter Eggs now. Every genre franchise, including those of Star Wars, Marvel Studios, DC, Dreamworks, Sony, and “beyond” use Easter Eggs as a matter of principle.

Then…Disney bought Pixar (and Star Wars, and Marvel too).

Live Action Disney Does Easter Eggs

Easter Eggs are finally appearing in even the sacred Princess films, which were always the most straight-laced offerings in the Disney Vault. But since we’re seeing Eggs now in the live-action/CGI remakes, maybe this is where Disney decided to test the waters.

I’m going to mention a few Easter Eggs I spotted in Aladdin and The Lion King, the most recently remade Disney films, which both have Princesses.

(I’m counting Nala here. If Simba is a King, then Nala is a Queen.)

Lion King: Nala
Totally a Disney Princess.

Note: I’m not going to even try to mention Easter Eggs in Ralph Breaks the Internet, which doesn’t qualify as a remake of a Disney Classic, and is honestly one long series of amusing Easter Eggs. Feel free to mention those in the comments below, along with any other Eggs you’ve spotted elsewhere.

ralph breaks the internet and princess venelope
Uncountable Easter Eggs. Do you realize how long an article would have to be to list them all?

Easter Eggs in 2019’s Aladdin and Lion King Remakes

  • Aladdin: This one is a self-contained movie reference. The Disney studio logo opens, showing a sailing ship on their river, then pulls back to see the Disney Castle. Then the movie itself opens on a sailing ship. I need to see this again now to determine if it’s the same boat.
    will smith as genie in Aladdin and the live action disney remake
    You ain’t never had a friend like Genie, in either version.
  • When Genie is dressing Aladdin in the desert, the magic carpet plays in the sand in the background. Over a series of shots, we see Carpet making a sand castle. In the final shot of this, it’s clear the castle is a sand replica of the Disney Castle from the studio logo, and Carpet shoots a stream of sand over it that looks like the shooting star we see at the end of the logo sequence.

I didn’t even notice what Carpet was doing on my first watch. But it’s obvious now and very clever. (Logo sequence below is from 2011, but shows the castle and star.)

  • Aladdin: There’s a great nod to Shrek when he turns Abu into a donkey. Shrek is the tentpole of DreamWorks, a competitor, which is interesting. Genie utters a line like, “No, too obvious,” — pretty amusing, and only makes sense if it’s a subtle dig on Shrek.
  • Aladdin: My sister is an even bigger fan of Disney than I, and we went to see Aladdin together. She noticed Jafar had a lion sculpture on his desk that looked like Uncle Scar from The Lion King. I’d love to hear if anyone can confirm this.
    Lion King Scar
    Scar is actually his nickname. I looked it up. It’s a little cruel that Mufasa calls him that in public.
  • Aladdin: I can’t say for certain if this was intentional, but when Iago (just Parrot in the remake) becomes Giant Parrot, there’s a sequence suspiciously like one in Jurassic World
  • The Lion King: I only saw the remake once, but found one very obvious Easter Egg. It’s when Timon calls out to the hyenas to come and eat them (Timon and Pumbaa are acting as ‘bait’ for Simba and Nala) — it’s the beginning phrase of the big showstopping number Be Our Guest from Beauty and the Beast. I laughed out loud at that one. Timon even uses a mock French accent as he says dramatically, “Be…our…guest”: it looks like he’s about to burst into song, as the music swells. Then the chase begins. It’s a super fun moment.
    Lion King: Pumbaa
    Delicious pork bait.

    Only a few other people in the audience laughed, though, so they clearly missed it. If I’d seen The Lion King opening night, you BET the die-hard fans would have exploded into wild appreciation. (Disney superfans are fanatic. These are the people that dressed in ballgowns during the remade Beauty and the Beast on opening night.)

That’s All, Folks

Unfortunately, that’s all I have right now from The Lion King. I’ll be looking for Eggs if I catch it again at the theater. On first viewings, it’s hard to notice background events. Naturally. Easter Eggs delight and reward us during subsequent watches.

I’m glad Disney’s decided to join the new century finally and break down their 4th wall here and there. (Maybe acquiring Deadpool was a good influence!)

Movie Review – The Lion King (2019)

Surprise! The Lion King is a Hamlet Remake

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

 

 

Godzilla MovieMeme

Not to toot my own horn, but I’m pretty darn proud of the #MovieMeme feature I added to the RunPee app in the previous update. It’s a work in progress that I would consider in beta for now, but you can still do an awful lot with it and have great fun sharing your work.

MovieMeme -- Godzilla

To access this feature in the RunPee app, just select any movie, which will take you to the Movie Info Screen. At the top of the screen you’ll see the movie poster. Just tap on that, and you can draw on the poster and/or add a text or meme to it.

The usability is still a little rough around the edges, but that will get ironed out in time. If you have any suggestions I’d love to hear your feedback. Just email me: [email protected].

John Wick: Prince of Puppies

It’s also fun to just use your finger, or a stylus, to draw on the poster.

MovieMeme -- Aladdin

Or a combination of meme and drawing.

MovieMeme - Hellboy

MovieMeme

What’s New in the RunPee App Version 5.0 – Movie posters can can draw on, MCU Peetimes at a glance, and much more!

RunPee’s MovieMeme Designs – So easy, a “meme moron” like me can make one

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, The 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