Review Summary: A Whole New World.
's interesting for two main reasons; first, Robin Williams plays Genie, who's Williams' only attempt at animated Disney; second, Aladdin
has Disney's first minority cast of characters - ironically, many characters adopted features from film stars of European descent. Aladdin is Tom Cruise apparently - only brown. I would say that if Disney's so keen on diversifying, they should actually
diversify by correctly representing foreign cultures instead of washing them in bleach, but seeing that Disney's created a most magical film by simultaneously glamorizing and barbarizing the Arab world, essentially piling heaps upon heaps of Arab stereotypes in Arabia, wherever that fictitious kingdom may be, I'll let this go. Realistically, I know Jasmine's dad wanted sons, so Disney fortuitously dodged a polygynous bullet anyway. And, amidst beady eyes, magic carpets, belly dancing girls, Welsh-named red parrots and Indian tigers, Aladdin
's wonderful world has been created.
Opening track, “Arabian Nights,” emerges, sensationalizing and otherizing Agrabah - the central location of Aladdin
- with lines such as “oh, I come from a land, from a faraway place” and “it's barbaric, but hey, it's home.” Regardless, "Arabian Nights" is great musically and lyrically. Even though it is essentially Orientalism defined, it is arguably Disney's greatest opener; rising with cynicism and mystery, a microtonal-sounding melody and a catchy, muezzin-ish chorus effectually bring forth Aladdin
Following “Arabian Nights,” storytelling songs that add to the plot appear back to back, beginning with “One Jump Ahead” - a song of speed, which parallels street-rat Aladdin's turmoil in his dangerous attempts at evading a group of shop keepers and swordsmen out to capture him. The song is good fun with a mischievous spirit that's almost charming. Then, Robin Williams aptly sings "Friend Like Me." This brassy and flashy Americana track differentiates Genie's position as that of an outsider. Instrumental differences bleed through lyrically; the song is geared toward playful sass and humor rather than mischief and glamour. Finally, Aladdin
calms, shifting its trajectory to Disney's obligatory duet between protagonists, which, as far as Disney duets go, this particular duet set a standard that has not yet been replaced. Disgustingly sweet, it is affection and endeavor wakened both visually and aurally by complementary and competent singers; both of whom exhibit crystal clear intonation that truly purify "A Whole New World," which seems incredibly clean, almost minty
“A Whole New World” is Aladdin
's apex, evoking its beating heart in words: "shining, shimmering, splendid... soaring, tumbling, free-wheeling." Similarly, it's the height of the soundtrack, marking its mid-way point as a song that's both unequaled in Aladdin
, and unmatched out of the film's borders. After "A Whole New World," the latter half of the album is mostly orchestra. However, similar musical themes repeat themselves.
Everything considered, Aladdin
's great; Aladdin
's soundtrack's great. The aspects of Aladdin
that so plainly need tampering also suggest a former period when few contemplated insensitivities of this kind. For Aladdin
doesn't think of such things, yet still remains a whole new world.