Film Review: Will Smith in ‘Aladdin’

  • Variety
Of all the characters in Walt Disney Studios’ canon, is there any more animated than the Genie from “Aladdin”? In 1992, old-school cartooning seemed the only way to keep up with comedian Robin Williams’ rapid-fire sense of humor and free-associative gift for improvisation. Much of the appeal of the original “Aladdin” came thanks to the ingenuity of its animators, led by Eric Goldberg, who used the medium to transform the mile-a-minute wish-meister before our eyes — as in one memorable moment when he cycles through caricatures, from William F. Buckley Jr. to a Marine Corps drill sergeant, kissy-lipped Yiddish bubbe, and back-from-the-dead Peter Lorre. The beloved charater’s elastic quality makes “Aladdin” perhaps Disney’s most daunting live-action adaptation yet, to say nothing of how Hollywood’s growing awareness of representation issues renders the original highly “problematic.”

Without Williams, or the near-infinite flexibility of hand-drawn animation, the challenge becomes how to translate
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