In summary, if you have kids, clear your mind of the bad reviews and go see the new “Aladdin.”
Is “Aladdin, The Redux” as I’ll refer to it, the greatest Disney movie of all time? No, of course not. Are old songs redone as good as in the original? Definitely not. (The song production was a really weird choice.) Does Will Smith pull a Heath Ledger-as-the-Joker turn and maybe upstage Robin Williams as Genie? Absolutely not (but he also wasn’t bad per se). But overall, it was visually beautiful, funny, and actually a good expanded story.
Naomi Scott, who plays Jasmine, is perfect. I actually loved the expansion of Jasmine’s story. In fact, the slight changes to the story were an improvement. As much as I love Emma Watson & “Belle,” separately (there’s just something about the live “Beauty & the Beast” that does NOT work for me, and B&B is my favorite Disney movie) Naomi’s Jasmine felt way more authentic. Mena Massoud made for a pretty hot Aladdin, and as Naomi is stunning, they were a freakin’ gorgeous couple. Will Smith isn’t Robin Williams, but he does a solid job as Genie, and we definitely laughed a lot.
The girls haven’t seen the cartoon version, despite our attempts, so they don’t really have a comparison but they LOVED this version. The only dicey part was when Jafar goes nuclear, which is when our 4-year-old started crying. But it wasn’t so scary that she couldn’t be quickly soothed by the assurance that the good guys would be okay, and Jafar would get his. Disney justice! (Where’s the justice for all the cartoon mothers you’ve killed, Disney? RIP Jasmine’s Mom.)
The girls want all the songs on their playlists. The new Jasmine song “Speechless” was great, and Naomi Scott killed it. But good God, what were they thinking in the production of the original songs? It’s hard to describe, and I hope someone else can comment, but it was like the tempo of the lyrics was verrrrry slow compared to the rest of the music. It wasn’t singing, it wasn’t rap. It was jarring, and certainly neither shining nor shimmering nor splendid. So most of the songs going on the playlist will be from the 1992 version, with the exception of “Speechless” and the new version of “A Whole New World” by Zayn Malik and Zhavia Ward. #Zaladdin
I’m still not sold on Disney’s moneygrabs, er, live remakes, but I’m good with 2019’s Aladdin.