(Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures)
One for the Ages
The word Disney conjures about certain stereotypes.
Many believe that Disney films cater to the younger demographic and the younger demographic only.
However, because of its splendid visuals and underdog story, the 2019 version of “Aladdin” is one for the ages and something that all age groups can relate to and enjoy.
Off topic, but do you remember Martin Payne’s (Martin Lawrence) cousin Sonny (Reno Wilson) on the classic sitcom, “Martin?”
Point blank, Martin told Gina (Tisha Campbell) that his cousin Sonny was a straight up thief.
Well, Aladdin (Mena Massoud) is a straight up thief with hands so light that he could pickpocket Jesus Christ himself.
Aladdin’s parents died when he was a child, so he has taken care of himself on the streets by stealing just to eat and put a roof over his head.
The whole town knows of his thievery, so that makes his thefts that much more impressive because he still gets away with his crimes even though the entire town is on his trail.
While on his daily mission of thefts, Aladdin happens by a young handmaiden that takes his breath away.
When she is caught helping starving children steal loaves of bread, Aladdin comes to her defense by using his skills as a thief to help her get away with her crime.
The young handmaiden has no money to pay for the bread that the children stole.
Her only valuable possession is an expensive bracelet that her dead mother gave her before she passed.
Not wanting to part with the bracelet, Aladdin gives the lady’s bracelet to the disgruntled merchant anyway to satisfy her outstanding debt.
But with his slight of hand, Aladdin is able to steal the bracelet from the merchant once he lets his guard down.
Unfortunately, when the merchant discovers the he has gotten duped by Aladdin; an all out pursuit ensues to capture Aladdin and his new female companion.
With the help of Aladdin’s only real family member, his monkey Abu, the trio makes it back to Aladdin’s home, which sits high atop the general population of the city.
Aladdin’s home is not much, but it allows the handmaiden her first opportunity to see the city from a true vantage point.
The handmaiden who lives in the king’s castle, and tends to his daughter Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott) has never really seen how the true citizens of her country really live.
From her new vantage point, she sees how people struggle just to survive while all of the residents of the castle make decisions about their lives, while enjoying a life of luxury.
While the Sultan (Navid Negahban) and his subordinates debate whether they should go to war, the real people of the country battle hunger and poverty everyday of their lives.
The Sultan’s trusted assistant Jafar (Marwan Kenzari) prefers war against former allies, while the Sultan wants to retain those allies by living in peace with other countries.
Furthermore, the people in the palace are also trying to find a suitable husband for Jasmine.
The husband has to be a prince because the princess cannot marry a commoner.
Although the handmaiden has enjoyed her time with Aladdin, she rushes back to the castle realizing that she has been out too long.
Unfortunately, she races away from Aladdin’s home without taking her mother’s bracelet.
Realizing that Abu has stolen the handmaiden’s bracelet, Aladdin sees it as an opportunity to reconnect with the handmaiden again.
Aladdin sneaks back into the palace to return the bracelet.
But when Jafar catches Aladdin inside the palace, the Sultan’s assistant punishes him for breaking in by sending him on a mission that will test his honesty and integrity.
Aladdin’s crime of breaking into the palace can be forgiven if Aladdin does one mission for Jafar.
The Sultan’s assistant wants the criminal to enter into a cave and retrieve a lamp.
However, Jafar gives Aladdin and Abu one rule they must abide by if they ever want to make it out of the cave alive.
The duo cannot touch or steal any of the jewels and riches in the cave or the cave will trap them inside its walls forever.
Although the temptation tests Aladdin, he is able to avoid stealing any of the precious treasures inside the cave.
Abu on the other hand does not have Aladdin’s will power.
After Aladdin retrieves the lamp for Jafar and gives it to him, the two are trapped inside the cave forever.
Or maybe not.
The only thief as good as Aladdin is Abu, and the monkey is able to steal the lamp from Jafar before they get trapped inside the cave.
Jafar wants the lamp so that the Genie (Will Smith) can grant him with the power to take over the kingdom from the more passive, Sultan.
If he can take over the kingdom with his three wishes, Jafar can rule the world.
However, if Aladdin is the Genie’s master, the country and the world might enjoy a more peaceful fate.
Furthermore, if Aladdin is the Genie’s master he might be able to use his new powers to get closer to the girl in the palace that he has his eyes on.
First and foremost, the 2019 version of “Aladdin” is visually a marvel to behold.
The film is absolutely beautiful from the colors, costumes and jewels to the castles.
“Aladdin” totally feels like filmmakers transported moviegoers back in time and they are living in ancient Arabia.
Massoud and Scott do an exquisite job of character portrayal.
While Aladdin is a commoner, Massoud portrays him with an air of regal grace that would fit right in inside the walls of the Sultan’s palace.
Furthermore, Scott plays a princess devoid of the pompous and arrogant attitude stereotypically associated with the aristocracy.
Smith does his thing as a true bona fide movie star would.
But despite Smith having the name recognition that Massoud and Scott do not have, Smith does not overshadow his younger co-stars.
The Philadelphia native is truly in “Aladdin” to offer his support in character and in celebrity.
However, Smith’s musical talents as a rapper do not fit perfectly in “Aladdin” because the emcee is forced to sing as opposed to spitting fire bars like on his classic 1988 song, “Brand New Funk.”
He does get to rhyme in “Never Had a Friend Like Me,” but it is not classic Fresh Prince.
Regardless, “Aladdin” will satisfy all demographics, whether moviegoers were children in 1988 or are children in 2019.
A great story is a great story.
That story becomes even greater when it is presented in majestic splendor that is visually mesmerizing.