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Review: Aladdin

Is there a single culture the animation department at Disney hasn’t white-washed for the masses?

Photo: Walt Disney Pictures

Is there a single culture the animation department at Disney hasn’t white-washed for the masses? Among the over overpraised cartoons in the studio’s entire canon, Aladdin explores what happens when a street urchin simultaneously falls in love with a princess and incurs the wrath of the evil sorcerer trying to destroy her father’s kingdom. Jasmine is another “free-spirited” type in the Barbie-doll tradition, a faux feminist who wants everyone to know that she can do everything the boys can, even with such a big bosom. Though the film’s milieu is ostensibly an Arab enchanted city, there’s nothing particularly Middle Eastern about the whole thing outside of the sand (who knew loveable tigers were popular outside of India!). Having spent considerable quality time with Aladdin dodging police officers and fruit sellers at the local market, it’s amazing Jasmine can’t recognize Aladdin beneath the turban. Seriously, it’s not like the animators have made it difficult for her: Every Arab male in the film is shady and sniveling (hell, even the evil Jafar’s pet parrot gets his name from Shakespeare’s “darkest” play, Othello), whereas Aladdin looks like Scott Wolf and sounds like Clay Aiken. Disney knows how to sell lies, but Aladdin is ultimately less offensive than patently ridiculous, mostly because its ethnic white noise is really just an excuse for Robin Williams—as a postmodern blabbermouthed genie who grants Aladdin three wishes—to put on the most elaborate, narcissistic circus act in the history of cinema. The actor once said, “Cocaine is God’s way of saying you’re making too much money.” Aladdin is proof that he was right.

Cast: Scott Weinger, Robin Williams, Linda Larkin, Jonathan Freeman, Frank Welker, Gilbert Gottfried, Douglas Seale, Bruce Adler, Brad Kane, Lea Salonga Director: Ron Clements, John Musker Screenwriter: Ron Clements, Ted Elliott, John Musker, Terry Rossio Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures Running Time: 90 min Rating: G Year: 1992 Buy: Video, Soundtrack

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