I’m 42 years old, so I was in high school when the original Aladdin debuted. I enjoyed it, especially the Robin Williams performance, but I didn’t consider it a masterpiece nor do I to this day. Fun? Absolutely? Great music? You bet. A holy artifact that should remain untouched for the rest of time? No. Absolutely not.
When I heard they were remaking a “live-action” version of the film, I thought, “Yeah, okay. That’s pretty consistent with what Disney is doing now.” When I discovered that they cast Will Smith as the genie … well, I thought that was an odd choice not just for the movie, but for Will Smith himself.
So let’s get the most important thing out of the way right now: my ten-year-old and seven-year-old daughters loved this version. They’ve seen the original, but they both said that they like this one more. Will they feel as strongly about it in ten years? Who knows. But, this is a kids’ movie made for kids, and both of my kids adored it. Bam. Mission successful.
From a more critical view, or maybe I should say from a cynical adult perspective, Aladdin (2019) isn’t perfect. First of all, it’s about thirty minutes too long. Two hours and ten minutes is just a bit too much for this genre. I definitely found myself looking at my watch. Also, the CGI in the movie is just … weird. There are times when it doesn’t look good at all, particularly in regards to the genie. CGI blue Will Smith … never quite looked right. I know this sound ludicrous, but he always appeared kind of fake … realistically fake. You know? They included rippling muscles and pores in the skin, yet he never seemed to be anchored to his surroundings.
However, there is quite a bit to like about this movie. First of all, no one can deny Will Smith’s movie stardom. He’s always fun to watch. Will Smith gets to be regular human Will Smith for quite a bit of the movie, and that’s when he really shined. Also, Mena Massoud, who plays Aladdin, has undeniable charisma. His eyes and smile light up the screen every time he appears, and he also has a really interesting speaking voice. Finally, though she doesn’t have the magnetism of her costar, Naomi Scott (Jasmine) has a fantastic voice. When she sings–watch out! This actress has one of those voices that just grabs you. I actually wish they’d given her several more musical numbers.
I feel totally comfortable recommending this as a family movie. If you all want to go out together and enjoy a fun time, Aladdin (2019) is a fine choice. The kids will enjoy it, the parents will find things to like about it, and then everyone will forget about it by the next day, and that’s okay.