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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Aladdin is the 1992 Disney animated retelling of the classic Middle Eastern folktale Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp (a live-action remake came out in 2019). The bad guy, Jafar, can be pretty scary for younger kids with his sorcery and mind control -- as can scenes in which Aladdin is chased by henchmen with giant swords and mythological monsters. There's also some cultural stereotyping: scheming Arab and Jewish merchants with large noses, for instance. Potty humor includes burping and bad guys getting the seat of their garish underwear torn off by an angry tiger. But Genie provides plenty of comic relief to the more dangerous moments; the late Robin Williams is in full force free association as his voice, channeling everyone from Rodney Dangerfield to William F. Buckley and providing some laughs for the adults in the room, too. Also expect a bit of mild name-calling and some revealing outfits on Princess Jasmine and curvy dancers. Overall, the theme of being true to yourself are should resonate with families and inspire discussion between parents and younger kids about not changing who you are simply to please others.
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What's the story?
In this animated Disney adventure, street urchin ALADDIN (voiced by Scott Weinger) woos Arabian Princess Jasmine (Linda Larkin) by pretending to be a prince. He gets help from an exuberant blue genie (Robin Williams), who grants him three wishes. But before this story ends happily ever after, Aladdin must tell Princess Jasmine the truth about his identity, and defeat evil royal adviser Jafar (Jonathan Freeman) -- neither one an easy task!
Is it any good?
Jasmine is no Belle and Aladdin is no Beast, but add a big blue genie voiced by Robin Williams to the picture and you've got a very entertaining Disney movie. Williams brings humor and vitality to a movie that might otherwise be just another "princess forced to marry against her will" story. His imagination and antics clearly inspired the animators, too, and every scene with the genie is off-the-charts creative.
Songs like "A Whole New World," and a magic carpet with more personality than all of Disney's animal sidekicks put together help give scenes without the genie a lift. Jasmine is spunky even though her predicament isn't very original, and Aladdin is sweet and eventually learns his own self-worth. DVD extras include a virtual magic carpet ride in which viewers speed through different Arabian settings as if on a roller coaster, a fun interactive 3D tour of Genie's lamp, and music videos by pop singers Clay Aiken and Jessica Simpson.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the contradictions in the characters in Aladdin -- how people can be both good and bad, and learn from their mistakes. Ask kids how they think Aladdin acted selfishly or unselfishly throughout the movie.
What are some other examples of Disney adapting classic folktales?
- In theaters: November 25, 1992
- On DVD or streaming: October 5, 2004
- Cast: Linda Larkin, Robin Williams, Scott Weinger
- Directors: John Musker, Ron Clements
- Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Music and Sing-Along
- Character strengths: Courage, Humility, Perseverance
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
- Last updated: July 30, 2020
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