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Monday, September 7, 2015
For one thing, there seemed to be a drought of good movies opening at the drive-in this week. I know that my job as a reviewer does not allow me to pick and choose the movies I see, but I have been watching mostly bombs this summer and watching another bomb did not appeal to me.

The other side of the story is a wonderful development for my family that necessitated in going to the drive-in to see Minions one more time. Every summer, I will usually see movies I liked more than once. This time, it was a family outing that we had been looking forward to for a long time.

Since one of the best movies of this summer is the animated film Inside Out, and since Inside Out is going to become an animated classic, I decided to review another animated classic this week that became part of a trio of films that saved one of the most beloved movie studios on the planet.

Nobody wants to admit it, but, the “trio” of The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991) and Aladdin (1992) pulled the Walt Disney Corporation out of a funk it had been in for decades. Since the “trio”, companies like Illumination Entertainment and Pixar have sprung up to challenge (or join) Disney, but it was the “trio” that sparked the perpetual interest in the animated movie industry, and it was Aladdin that pushed the whole idea of the Disney animated musical hit over the top.

Aladdin uses all of the Disney animated feature tricks that have made movies like 1961’s 101 Dalmatians so popular such as a bad guy that is easy to identify thanks to a unique look, over the top comedy and heroes you really want to see win the day. Aladdin also maintained the element of hit songs that had been added into the Disney mix in The Little Mermaid.

Prior to the “trio”, Disney relied heavily on slapstick animation and exaggerated bad guys to create successful movies. Since the “trio”, Disney has realized that it is all about the comedy, the bad guy and the songs. While movies like The Emperor’s New Groove flopped, Frozen went on to be a mega-success because of the songs. Now Disney uses its formula over and over again to feed its growing empire.

There are a lot of positive things going on in Aladdin that came together to make it a success. The first key to the success of the movie was allowing the late Robin Williams to go off-script and adlib a lot of his lines. I would love to find the version of this movie where Williams followed the script to see how much he actually changed, because I think that would be a great tribute to someone who helped revive the entire animated movie industry.

Then there is the chemistry between the characters that just clicks throughout the movie. The Genie and the flying carpet are funny in scenes, Aladdin and Jafar click repeatedly in ways that the hero and the bad guy do not click in most other movies, Jasmine puts together some interesting scenes with her cat who cannot talk and Iago the Parrot is the general comedy relief that makes the whole movie click.

The songs from Aladdin were on the radio for months, and the main theme song “A Whole New World” won an Oscar.  The entire score won an Oscar as well, which was the same success The Little Mermaid had experienced. After three consecutive films where the music became the focal point, the Disney Corporation finally realized that its niche was in making extended animated videos for its popular songs. It is a formula that Disney has repeated with great success several times since 1992.

It was the trio of The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin that brought Disney out of its rut and helped to re-establish the studio as an animation juggernaut. It was Aladdin that put the emphasis on the comedy, and helped Disney to realize that music and pop songs were the key to the company’s future.

For me, Aladdin stands as the best of the three “trio” movies and will always be the movie on which Disney has built its long-standing reputation for animated excellence. Aladdin will remain as one of the most important, and best, animated movies in the history of the Walt Disney Corporation.

Rating: 4 out of 5

+George N Root III is a drive-in fanatic and proud grandfather. Follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3 or send him a message at georgenroot3@gmail.com. Join the conversation about this movie and others at https://www.facebook.com/enpatthedrivein.



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