Aladdin (1992)

Aladdin
Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker
Written by the two above and apparently 18 other people. I did read that Robin Williams improvised so many of his lines that they couldn’t get an academy nomination for the script.
(number 330)

I had to laugh in the first few moments, as my relatively new DVD has a changed lyric right at the start. ‘Where they cut off your hand if they don’t like your face’ has become ‘where it’s flat and immense and the heat is intense.’ PC gone mad? I’m not sure of the benefit of this line change since they still have lots of talk of beheadings and the bit where Jasmine nearly has her hand cut off for stealing.

Loving memories of Robin Williams, Rest In Peace, dude.

I watched this movie many many times in the 90s, I played the video game on Sega Mega Drive, my sister and I sang along to the soundtrack. But I haven’t seen it too much in the last few years. I wasn’t aware that Abu causes so much of the conflict. He’s always stealing stuff even in the midst of them trying to escape the guards, he is the one who touches a forbidden treasure in the cave of wonders which sets off the whole drama.

The story is centred mostly around who will marry Jasmine. Jasmine’s entire modus operandi is that she wants freedom and independence, and sadly this is something she never really gets. She gets the freedom to marry the man she loves but she has to stay in the palace which she was trying to escape. It’s sort of annoying. In the main love theme Aladdin shows her the whole world, promises it to her but there’s no evidence that she gets any more than that. On the other hand ‘A Whole New World’ is an excellent song and brilliant to karaoke duet to.

The big bad guy is Jafar, forerunner to Scar – smooth and English accented. His sidekick Iago is hilarious and voiced by Gilbert Gottfried which always makes me think of this video…

Aladdin has a massive self esteem problem, which is the core of the conflict of the climax of the movie – he doesn’t believe he can tell Jasmine who he really is without her hating him. He continues to lie to her so that Jafar has power to reveal it all in a shocking way. One of those classic romantic stories where if they’d only communicated then there’d be no problem apart from the evil sorcerer, anyways.

The bit where Jasmine gets redone into an ‘evil’ red outfit used to make me feel sort of weird, but I think it’s because it’s a really sexual sequence. Very Slave Leia, she’s in red and chains and she seduces Jafar as a distraction. A bit uncomfortable in a kid’s movie! Although it’s still not a patch on the Esmerelda/Frollo shiz from Hunchback.

Does it make me love the people? Yes. Aladdin is a little two dimensional but he has an appealing confidence and mischevious nature which we are conditioned to adore and Jasmine is sweet and good with just a little spunk to her.

Bechdel test: Nooooooo. There’s just one named female character, Jasmine. Literally every other character who has a name is a male. Even the magic carpet is referred to as a ‘he’ and it’s just a freaking rug that moves. I guess this really was Disney trying its best to appeal to only boys.

Best line:
Genie: I’m in the mood to help you dude!

State of Mind: Just as good today as it was back then, although as ever, more women would be appreciated.

Watched movie count

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The Jungle Book (1967)

The Jungle Book
Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman
Written by Larry Clemmons, Ralph Wright, Ken Anderson and Vance Gerry, based on the Mowgli stories by Rudyard Kipling
(number 410)

I think I mostly saw this as a teenager when they re-released it and my sister bought it. We watched it a lot. I still think there’s a bit where Baloo says ‘shit’ but it’s possibly ‘kid’. Hard to say… I like the book, which I read a couple of years ago after the Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. This is a kinder adaptation with some very catchy songs, and I think it does a good job of glossing over the more disturbing bits of the book.

My favourite moment of the rewatch was the intro to the vultures, and I yelled ‘It’s the Beatles!’ and Blair kind of chuckled uncomfortably, but once they started talking he was flabbergasted. Yeah, I really don’t know why the Beatles are in this movie as a barbershop quartet of vultures, but they really are, liverpool accents, haircuts and all. It’s pretty amusing, and they’re useful to the story too, giving Mowgli backup during the climactic fight with Shere Khan.

I’m a little disturbed that the voice of Kaa the snake is the same voice as Winnie the Pooh, but he does get a good creepy song.

Does it make me love the people? I… really like Bagheera and Shere Khan … and the latter is the villain. But he’s so damn cool! Bagheera’s long suffering caretaker role is easy to sympathise with as an adult, but I’m sure as a kid you’re meant to roll your eyes at him the way Mowgli does.

It’s a sweet story. I was always vaguely bothered by Mowgli’s red nappies, but it’s hard to dislike him. He’s doing what we all wished we could do as kids (well, me anyway), living in the jungle with talking animals and doing whatever I wanted. Having a bear to cuddle up to. It’s a pretty good life.

Bechdel test: One named female elephant (Winifred) and one unnamed girl.. so… no. All the animals of the jungle are male. The human girl at the end is shown to be mysterious and intriguing, rendering Mowgli entranced with her song about how someday she’ll be married and cooking while her husband is out hunting. There’s something almost sexual in the close ups of her gaze and the way she plays with her hair, which is a bit uncomfortable to me.

Best line:

“And don’t spend your time lookin’ around
For something you want that can’t be found
When you find out you can live without it
And go along not thinkin’ about it
I’ll tell you something true
The bare necessities of life will come to you”

State of Mind: Like most Disney films, it’s reliably enjoyable to watch many times. There’s a lot to like in this movie, and the catchy songs are right up there.

sing it with me!

Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Beauty and the Beast
Directed by Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise
(number 436)

I was so obsessed with this movie when it came out… you have no idea. My sister and I had a sticker book and you had to buy the stickers in a blind packet of 5 or 6 and it was random and we were trying to collect them all to fill up the book. I had so many doubles of those stickers and I don’t think we ever actually finished it. Plus we had the soundtrack and we listened to it endlessly.

I’ve probably seen it 40 thousand times over the years but y’know. It’s always fun to watch it again. I was struck with a lot of memories of the stage show version I saw a few years back.

Ellen laughed at me for singing along, but ‘I use antlers in all of my decorating’ is one of the best songs in any musical ever and no one can convince me otherwise.

The movie is a classic Disney princess fairy tale, complete with an ‘I want’ song at the start, and comedic sidekicks – it had the interesting change to the classic princesses, with Belle yearning for adventure rather than marriage, but of course her adventure just ends up being marriage to a beastly dude.

The music is divine, the art is gorgeous and there are many quotable lines. I really do love this movie.

Does it make me love the people? It’s a Disney movie, there’s nothing but love and sweetness.

Bechdel test: Do you know how happy I am? Yes, it does. There’s a scene after the Beast has yelled at Belle and she’s refused to come to dinner, where Mrs Potts and the (female) wardrobe comfort her. Mrs Potts offers her tea and it’s totally focussed on Belle’s predicament and not Beast. Lovely.

Best line: I use antlers in all of my decorating!

State of Mind: Comforted, which may have to do with the KFC I ate with it.