ALADDIN (2019)

dir. Guy Ritchie. Local pickpocket falls in love with a Princess, frees a magic Genie, then uses wishes to transform himself into a fictional Prince, to win the heart of the beautiful Princess Jasmine. The Alan Menken songs from the original 1992 animated film are still wonderful, and the two young leads Naomi Scott and Mena Massoud are bright and charismatic enough to carry them off. The new song for Jasmine ‘Speechless’ fits in well with the other songs. There is something off about the visual look of the film, maybe the obvious use of sound stages, or the boring cinematography, but the whole look feels a bit like a cheap TV movie, which is very odd. It’s inexplicable that Guy Ritchie did not lean more into Bollywood style dance numbers, of which there is only one. The friendship between Genie and Aladdin caught me off guard, and is very touching at the end. This must be Will Smith’s funniest role in years, I was super skeptical when he was cast, but he’s great. Jafar is by far the weakest character, he’s supposed to be mysterious and dangerous, but he is mostly played for laughs.