By 1992, Walt Disney Animation Studios was already back at the top of their game and was doing better than they had done before. "The Little Mermaid" showed they had the power to continue making fantastic animated movies while "Beauty and the Beast" reaffirmed that. The latter eventually received a Best Picture nomination at the Academy Awards, the first full length animated movie to do so and proved that Disney wasn't going anywhere anytime soon. What came next after that was their take on one of the stories from 1001 Arabian Nights, "Aladdin". When it came out, it also was very well received by the critics and eventually became the highest grossing animated movie of that time. Even Chuck Jones called it the funniest film ever made. That's pretty high praise coming from the man that made cartoons like "One Froggy Evening", "Duck Amuck", and "What's Opera Doc?". Looking back on it now, I can easily say that "Aladdin" still is a lot of fun and hilarious all these years later.
A street rat named Aladdin (Scott Weinger) has been living on the streets of Agrabah with his pet monkey Abu evading the guards of the city and trying to survive. One day though, he runs into the princess of Agrabah, Jasmine (Linda Larkin) who ran away from the palace as she's upset at a law that requires her to marry a prince when she rather marries the man she falls in love with. The two have sparks flying after they meet but are cut short when Aladdin is captured by the guards and thrown into the dungeon while Jasmine is returned to the palace. Meanwhile, the Royal Vizier, Jafar (Jonathan Freeman) has been searching for a magic lamp and tricks Aladdin into going to the fabled Cave of Wonders to retrieve it. One thing leads to another though and Aladdin finds himself trapped in the cave with Abu and a magic carpet where he meets the Genie (Robin Williams) who can grant him three wishes. Wanting to win Jasmine, Aladdin wishes to become a prince and returns to Agrabah to try to win her heart while evading Jafar who is trying to win her over as well so he can become sultan.
I think the thing that works about this film the most after all these years is just how great the comedy is. The story definitely sticks true to the famous story while also throwing in some hilarious comedy to balance it out. Even then, the story definitely has a perfect consistency and definitely has a lot of fun memorable moments to count. Even with all the hilarious moments of the film, it still does know when to stop and take a break for some emotional moments and pivotal breathing scenes. I really like how well the scenes with Aladdin and Jasmine work. While the romance isn't perfectly developed as in "Beauty and the Beast", I still believed the chemistry they had and felts they worked well off each other. The animation once again is also amazing. Disney took inspiration from the character designs from caricature artist Al Hirschfield and his work is very evident while watching this movie. It isn't a full Hirschfield homage like in the Rhapsody in Blue segment from "Fantasia 2000", but you can definitely see his influence in the film. As far as memorable highlights go, the scene in the Cave of Wonders as well as A Whole New World is the most memorable. The colors in the scene really stand out and I think it captured the essence of flight perfectly. Though the thing that works most about the movie all these years later is the characters. While Aladdin and Jasmine are both fun and charming in their own manners and Jafar makes for a fun villain, they are all overshadowed by the Genie played by the one and only Robin Williams. This was a role made for him and putting his voice together with the energetic animation of Eric Goldberg and crew made for one of the funniest animated characters in history. His improvisation really was what made the movie hilarious to this day and I don't think anyone else could've played him better than him. Watching the movie again really does make me miss him even more than it already does. He really was a comedy legend. I also have got to talk about the songs as well which are also fantastic and memorable. Composer Alan Menken, along with lyricists Howard Ashman and Tim Rice really were able to once again make some of the most catchy songs in an animated movie ever. The highlights were probably "Friend Like Me" and "A Whole New World" in my opinion. They just had the perfect energy and charisma to hold them up.
Looking back on it, "Aladdin" really does still hold up all these years later. The story is hilarious and has some great comedy, the animation is fantastic and has some outstanding moments, the characters are all fun and have plenty of charisma, and the songs are all catchy and timeless. This really is an animated movie that deserves to be remembered fondly. It still is a film that can cheer anyone up at any time. It may not be the absolute best of the Disney Renaissance, but it sure is still one of the most fun and memorable.