Disney’s Aladdin (1992): Parent Review

Aladdin (1992) | G | 1h 30min | Adventure, Comedy, Animation, Musical | November 25, 1992

Disney’s Aladdin (1992) is an American and Disneyfied version of one of the greatest catfishers in fictional history. Find out what happens when you mix white voice actors, Robin Williams, and Middle East stereotypes into a fun family film about a misunderstood guy trying too hard to catfish a 16 year old girl.

Disney’s Aladdin (1992) Honest Synopsis

Warning: This is the plot retold so, yeah, there are spoilers if you have not seen Aladdin (1992) for some reason.

So the movie opens up on a Robin Williams’ vaguely racist, stand up routine where he talks about random stuff his character is selling. Of course, he introduces Aladdin’s story that starts off by showing Jafar, his bird, and some random thief looking for the cat-headed Cave of Wonders. 

Aladdin (1992) peddler in beginning of movie

The group finds the cave and wake it up. The cat-headed cave is pissed because it hates mornings, and rather than just shutting his mouth, the vindictive cave decides to eat the thief because he’s not worthy the cat head finds it oddly satisfying to kill.

The cat-headed cave then tells Jafar to find the diamond in the rough. That’s strange. You just ate some thief because he’s not worthy, but you’ll tell a terrible human about the person you do find worthy? How’s that make sense?

Anyway, what do you think the cut scene goes to? Holy sh*t! Is that Aladdin!? Is he the lovable street rat, thief who is clearly the “diamond in the rough?” I guess we’ll have to find out after he sings his escape song. 

Aladdin (1992) escaping guards

With the help of his little monkey friend, Aladdin escapes (shocker). And, well shucks, he really is an altruistic thief. He stole someone else’s livelihood and then fed some kids living on the street. And he guilts his hungry, though arguably terrible, monkey into also giving up his bread to the kids.

But that’s not enough to establish Aladdin as an amazing person. Next, he protects the same kids from some ass-wipe prince… who rode through town with no escort or entourage. It’s almost as if they needed him to be alone so Aladdin could confront what he could become… ooh, FORESHADOWING.

Of course, now I’m questioning, what the hell happened to the guards chasing Aladdin about 2 minutes ago? Does he live in Grand Theft Auto: Agrabah where if you lose the cops after 2 minutes they stop looking?

Anyway, time to cut to the sheltered 16 year old, mid-drift bearing princess who is fighting the feminist fight of her life. Women’s rights in Agrabah? For her right to be Sultan?

Nah! To hell with all that boring sh*t, she wants to be able to marry for love. And god damn it if she isn’t going to have her pet tiger eat all her prospective suitors if she doesn’t instantly love the person. Women power!

Aladdin (1992) Jasmine looking at Rajah

Then there’s Jafar, yeah the evil dude from the beginning, who is – oh sh*t – the Sultan’s adviser. Fresh from the cat-headed cave disaster, he is now scheming to find the “diamond in the rough.”

And what do you think happens next? That’s right, Jasmine melodramatically leaves the palace in disguise and heads to the market. Classic sheltered girl hijinks occur where she inadvertently steals an apple to feed a child. But the angry shop keep who is judge, jury, and executioner, caught her stealing and decides to cut off her hand right then and there.

Am I the only one thinking: what kind of runaway plan includes not bringing money?

Damn Jasmine, you really ARE sheltered. My four year old knows you need money to pay for things… I mean she thinks she can imagine money into existence, but she at least knows she needs it to buy stuff.

But good ol’ Aladdin shows up and convinces the vendor she’s insane or something, giving him one of the merchant’s apple’s back to him. And their plan almost works, but Aladdin’s little sh*t of a monkey is caught stealing food and other valuables. So they all have to run like hell back to his hideaway.

Once they get there, they each talk about their struggles, while the monkey hates on Jasmine. And then they reveal their desires to each other, and wouldn’t you know? The desires are OPPOSITES! Whoa!

He wants the palace life, she wants to be free from it so she can pursue love… Silly Jasmine, did no one explain to you that in traditional Middle Eastern culture (even in certain parts to this day), whether you are poor or rich, you’re father will decide who you should marry?

Anyway, before they can exchange names, guards show up and arrest Aladdin. But since she likes him, Jasmine tries to save him by revealing she is the princess.

This barely gives the guards a moment of pause, primarily because they are there on orders from Jafar. And maybe I’m over analyzing here, but why the hell did he not drag her ass back to the palace? Instead, they just run off with Aladdin, who (incidentally) now knows Jasmine is going to be an easy mark for his catfishing scheme later on. And they leave the run away princess alone. Weird.

Well Jasmine finds her way back to the palace and confronts Jafar. He tells her he already killed the boy for kidnapping her. She then pouts/cries about her lost love she met twenty minutes earlier. Her dad finds her and tells her he’ll make it right.

Aladdin (1992) in dungeon

Meanwhile, we catch up with Aladdin in the dungeon. The little thieving monkey shows up and releases him from his shackles. Score 1 good point for the monkey. But some old guy (who is really Jafar in disguise) convinces Aladdin to go to the Cave of Wonders because, you know, Aladdin is the “diamond in the rough.”

Aladdin and his slightly less selfish monkey friend accompany the old man to the cave. The cat-headed cave says his same basic speech and – shocker – Aladdin enters the cave without being eaten.

Aladdin (1992) Aladdin entering cave of wonders

Now I have a question here. The monkey has shown he will steal just because. This is shown in the market scene with Jasmine. You also see he is more than reluctant to give up his food to starving children. And you also just saw in the dungeon that he has a professional lock picking set. How the hell is the monkey even remotely worthy to go into the cave?

But into the cave they go, and they find a magic flying carpet. But wouldn’t you know, right as Aladdin finds the coveted lamp, the little dip sh*t monkey grabs a piece of forbidden treasure. So the floor turns to lava, convincing an entire generation of children that the floor is, in fact, lava.

Aladdin and the monkey fly to the exit to escape, but the old man demands the lamp and then tries to trap Aladdin forever. For point number 2 for the monkey, he uses his greedy little instincts to grab the lamp. And the monkey, Aladdin, lamp, and carpet all get trapped together.

Thankfully, the cave is well lit and the lava has stopped flowing. So Aladdin gets a chance to examine the lamp. He rubs it, and the Genie appears much to his shock. The Genie explains – in song form – that Aladdin has three wishes.

Aladdin asks the Genie what he would wish for, which the Genie says “freedom.” So Aladdin promises to use his last wish to wish for the Genie’s freedom. Maybe I was wrong, maybe Aladdin really is a great per- and then Aladdin tricks the Genie into freeing them, which doesn’t waste any of his three wishes. Dick move #1, Aladdin.

Having freshly tricked the Genie, his first wish is to pull off the ultimate catfish disguise – pretend to be a prince to lure Jasmine into liking him. Dick move #2, Aladdin.

Aladdin (1992) Aladdin as Prince Ali

Once again back at the palace, Jafar fresh from his defeat at the Cave of Wonders, just finished convincing the child-like Sultan to allow him to marry Jasmine. But who do you think shows up? That’s right, Aladdin in his catfishing identity – Prince Ali. Now “rich,” Prince Ali enters town showing an arrogant display of his wealth and power. Dick move #3, Aladdin.

Aladdin then bickers with Jafar and the child-like Sultan about marrying Jasmine, which enrages her. After all, true feminism is about a 16 year old girl being able to choose what man she can fall in love with in one day and marry. Forget equal rights, being the ruler on her own, the starving children of Agrabah (who she literally just saw starving on the streets)… she wants to love who she wants.

Aladdin and the Genie talk about the disastrous first meeting with Jasmine. And he gives him some great, largely ignored advice: just be yourself. But no, later that night, Aladdin sneaks into her room to continue his catfishing. Dick move #4, Aladdin.

Aladdin (1992) Genie telling him to tell the truth

After still failing to convince her to like him, he takes her on a magic carpet ride, while singing a rather provocative song about doing it “over side ways and under.” When they land in China (ironically where Aladdin takes place in the original tale), she outs him as Aladdin. Once again, he lies for his catfishing scheme. Dick move #5, Aladdin.

But his lies are enough to convince her, Aladdin, er Prince Ali, and she decides that Prince Ali is the man for her. They return to the palace.

Of course, the happiness won’t last long. Jafar is suspicious of Aladdin, and as any good evil person would do, has him captured upon his return and executed quickly and quietly.

For some reason, the guards don’t stripe Aladdin of his garb or search him. Instead, they throw him into the ocean with his hat and lamp. Due to a chance rubbing of the lamp, the Genie appears. But because Aladdin’s dick move #1 was to trick the Genie, he can’t use his magic to save him unless he makes a wish… seems awfully convenient, but whatever.

Once Aladdin escapes, he outs Jafar to the child-like Sultan. Jafar escapes. And the child-like Sultan gets hot and bothered to find the guy who’s been lying to him for 20 years for about twenty seconds. Then he realizes Jasmine has found a suitor she doesn’t want to feed to her tiger, and he literally forgets all about finding Jafar.

Aladdin (1992) Sultan playing with toys like a man-child

The child-like Sultan announces Aladdin will be Sultan and this scares Aladdin into thinking he needs the Genie more, so he won’t wish for his freedom. Dick move #6, Aladdin.

Jafar concocts a plan to snag the lamp using his talking bird. In the meantime, the child-like Sultan is addressing his people telling the starving, poor people they will soon have a new prince. Whoop-die-doo!

And while this happens, Jafar wishes to be Sultan… which probably really has no actual impact on anyone living in Agrabah – except for the child-like (former) Sultan and Jasmine. Because, hey, they’re still poor and hungry, switching rulers is really irrelevant to them.

When the child-like (former) Sultan and Jasmine don’t bow to him, Jafar wishes to be an all powerful sorcerer. Then Aladdin shows up and Jafar outs his catfishing scheme to Jasmine (which, let’s be honest, doesn’t phase her much) prior to banishing him and the monkey to the North or South Pole, maybe a tall mountain, I don’t know, they didn’t really explain. But the magic carpet is there and whisks him and the monkey back to Agrabah.

Back at the palace, Jafar, who is maybe in his 40s or 50s, starts eyeing up 16 year old Jasmine, who is now dressed in a red version of her mid-drift exposing outfit. Though it’s creepy as f*ck, Jafar wants the Genie to make her love him… SIDE NOTE: there are a lot of creepy ass men in this movie…

Aladdin (1992) Jasmine tricking Jafar

Genie refuses because of his rules, but Aladdin shows up, so Jasmine tricks Jafar into thinking the Genie did what he asked for. Aladdin tries to grab the lamp, but Jafar catches him and puts Jasmine in a giant hour glass filling with sand.

All seems lost, but good ol’ lying, street rat Aladdin tricks Jafar into wishing to be the most powerful genie in the world. Everyone looks at Aladdin like he’s crazy, but then it becomes obvious why he did this – Jafar is now trapped in his own lamp.

Some melodramatic dialogue ensues where Aladdin still pines for the girl he has been actively deceiving for most of the movie. And Jasmine is still pining for Aladdin, despite the deception. So Aladdin does what he needs to do.

As his final wish, Aladdin sets Genie free. And the child-like Sultan finally realizes he can change the law to let his daughter marry who she wants. So of course, she chooses the man who has (now) successfully catfished her.

Disney's Aladdin (1992): Parent Review

Movie title: Aladdin

Movie description: Disney's Aladdin (1992) is an American and Disneyfied version of one of the greatest catfishers in fictional history. Find out what happens when you mix white voice actors, Robin Williams, and Middle East stereotypes into a fun family film about a misunderstood guy trying too hard to impress (catfish) a girl.

Date published: 11-22-1992

Director(s): Ron Clements, John Musker

Actor(s): Scott Weinger - Aladdin (voice) aka Steve from Full House, Robin Williams - Genie / Peddler (voice), Linda Larkin - Princess Jasmine (voice), Jonathan Freeman - Jafar (voice), Frank Welker - Abu / Cave of Wonders / Rajah (voice), Gilbert Gottfried - Iago (voice), Douglas Seale - Sultan (voice), Charlie Adler - Gazeem / Melon Merchant / Nut Merchant (voice)

Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Animation, Musical

Dad's Take

First, Aladdin is pretty much an a-hole. And as Star Lord’s message says in Guardians of the Galaxy, “he maybe an a-hole… but he’s not 100% a dick.” That kind of sums him up… though I might add, he is pretty close to being 100% a dick.

So he gives orphans bread and saves them from a quick wiping. Yay! He’s a hero! But then he spends the entire movie cat fishing Jasmine.

On top of this, he tricks Genie into getting a free wish. Then he breaks his promise to Genie about setting him free.

All a-hole moves. But he’s not a 100% dick, because you know, he fed some orphans and saved them from being wiped by another dick.

That’s not to say that, as a story goes, Aladdin is not entertaining. Overall it is. Robin Williams demonstrated his comic prowess in nearly every scene he’s in (even if it is largely geared towards parents of the 90s who would get 99% of his jokes). It has an iconic, if not closet dirty, song, “A Whole New World” and other annoyingly catchy songs. And Jafar and Iago have excellent chemistry as an evil pair.

But then there’s Jasmine walking around in a provocative outfit talking about marrying for love. So what’s the message here? Whine loud enough and you can marry who you want?

Or is it that you should choose a guy who spent most of the time he’s known you lying out his ass to you? That’s a great relationship foundation right there. “I choose him!!! His lies made me feel the best!” 

I’m honestly thankful the live action Aladdin gave Jasmine a much more positive message for young girls like my daughter… who of course prefers the cartoon version.

The Sultan is another terrible, pretty much racist depiction of a character. He’s basically a child in a man’s body. He is blissfully uncaring about anything other than his daughter getting married. He doesn’t care that his adviser of 20 plus years has manipulated him because, hot damn, Jasmine found a guy she wants to marry. All the while, peasants beg in the streets for scraps.

Then there is the underlying racist, xenophobic tones of the film. I discuss this more in my live action Aladdin review, but the gist is basically that the tale of Aladdin is a racially charged story that depicts Middle Eastern and Eastern culture negatively. Disney’s cartoon mostly furthers stereotypes with its depiction of the bad characters as Middle Eastern and its depiction of its heroes (Aladdin, the Genie, and Jasmine) pretty much as American and white as can be. 

But if you can get past the obvious catfishing scheme, Jasmine’s poor motivations, and some general racist undertones, Aladdin is an enjoyable enough movie. At least the first few times you re-watch it… After that, it starts getting old quickly and the songs will get stuck in your head.

Pros

Overall good cast

Some decent songs

Iago, Genie, and Jafar are all entertaining

Story is engaging

 

Cons

Racist undertones

Jasmine is not exactly a strong female character that young girls can look up to

Sultan is depicted as a child

Aladdin’s scheme is pretty much one giant catfishing endeavor

Songs get stuck in your head

Nathan

Nathan is not a published author, professional movie critic, or avid fan of most children shows. He is a caring father (when he's not banging his head against the wall), a movie connoisseur of sorts literally able to have full conversations in movie and TV quotes, and dedicated to helping other parents avoid starting a show with their small children that they will soon regret. In his free time, he does nothing. He has two small children. Free time does not exist.

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