I know what you're thinking already....
"Aladdin? Come on Josh! What could possibly be wrong with a rags to riches story? True love winning out in the end? Even a Grinch like you should love that!"
But, as is often the case, I tend to look into a darker looking glass than you, my dear reader.
So I would suggest that if you wish to avoid having yet another classic movie ruined by my sarcastic cynicism, I would probably skip this entry altogether.
In fact, move right on to the next one where I'll tell you the charming, heart-warming stories about my Grandma Ellen. You can get your hug-fest there. But here, I shall continue to not only blow this Disney vault open, but to share things that you, the simple viewer, may have missed in your longing to create a picturesque world.
So sit back, grab some freakin' popcorn, and lets get going!
From start to finish this movie is more a tale of class warfare, rather than a cutesy love story. At the beginning of this gem of a feature length picture, the viewer is entreated to a sequence in which the Grand Vizier to the Sultan of Agrabah, Jafar and his evil sidekick Iago ( a parrot?! This is the freakin' middle east, not the rain forest!), use a hired thug to steal some treasure from the creepy, albeit cool looking "Cave of Wonders."
Right away I see a problem, do you? Jafar's title. "Grand Vizier" is no more than a trusted advisor to the sultan. Problem? I think so! Already we have an elite class developing, which will undoubtedly oppress others later on in the movie. That sneaky little bastard!
The scene really doesn't end well, given that the thief gets eaten by the cave. You heard me right, he got eaten! Apparently Jafar didn't realize that this particular cave has a taste for "diamonds in the ruff", so common thief apparently didn't go down too smoothly.
Of course, don't tell the thief's parents that. They probably thought that he was all kinds of "special." Perhaps his public education even aided that a bit with special "self-esteem" classes for him as a boy in Arabian kindergarten....
The movie then cuts to the crowded market place in Agrabah, where the viewer gets their first taste of the "hero" of the story, jovially singing and cavorting, to and fro throughout the streets, while being pursued by a troop of royal soldiers. Think of it as "Cops" Agrabah style.
Aladdin sings a little catchy ditty about how stealing is cool, and how he needs to eat to live (of course, the idea of working a job must not have occurred to him), and interacts with various others throughout the song. Apparently multiple residents of the city are familiar with his thieving ways...
Alas, the police don't catch him and crime continues in Agrabah. But you know, if crime is accompanied by camaraderie and catchy music, it's definitely ok....
The tale then takes us to the introduction of the third main character, the beautiful, feisty princess Jasmine.
Now...I'll be honest, I find Jasmine to be, not only the hottest of the Disney Princesses, but also, by far the most intriguing. It's like a tomboy is trapped in a drop dead gorgeous shell! I get the feeling that she'd be cool shooting hoops, hunting, playing violent video games, and other essential life activities.
What I'm saying, is that Jasmine could definitely be one of the guys, but she's also really attractive which is pure insanity!
Alas, she is trapped in the pre-Women's lib movement, and isn't allowed to marry for love.
She, being a princess, is required to marry a prince, and the more well-off he is, the better (Again with the money thing, eh Disney?)! Problem is, she doesn't like any of her suitors, so she generally ends up sicking her pet tiger on them when she gets annoyed with their pursuits.
Did I mention Jasmine has a tiger? Yeah well she does. She has an 'effing tiger! How cool is that!?
Oh yes! So, not only does Jasmine dislike her filthy rich suitors ( the 1% of Arabia), but she is also quickly tiring of stuffy palace life. Hell, who wouldn't? Lots of food, servants, baths, cool clothes....yeah, I'd get tired of that.
So she seeks adventure outside the palace walls. So she puts on a bathrobe and scales her garden wall, and just like that she's free! Now she can see how the 99% live. You can imagine how well this turns out... Within five minutes (yes, I said minutes!) of leaving she is already in trouble. She starts trying to hand out free food, from a vendor's stand, to a little beggar kid in the street.
That's right my friends, yet another reference to class warfare, only now the government is getting involved!
It's at this point of the movie that I begin to fervently pray that Jasmine never seeks to become an entrepreneur, because she really has no concept of how businesses work. It's great to give out food, but not someone else's food!
But the small business owner calls her on it, and moves to cut off her thieving little hand, despite her desperate pleas and promises to pay him back. Again, typical government. This is why we don't mess with (steal from) a taxpayer/business owner friends.
We begin to see that her state run, diplomacy courses are an abysmal failure, and it looks as if the pretty little lass will lose her hand, but just in the nick of time who shows up? Aladdin. He makes up some bogus excuse about how she's crazy and pretends to pay the shop owner back.
Then they run off together. They go back to Aladdin's crib, and he shows her the sweet view he has of the palace and tells her how awesome it'd be to be rich (again, not even hinting at the interest of getting a job) and you can tell they are growing quite fond of each other.
What can I say? The "99%" and the government have the hots for each other, I guess it's the common interest of hating the people who actually create wealth, but that's just speculation.
Suddenly palace guards show up to evict Aladdin (I imagine it's 'cause he hasn't paid his rent in....I don't know.... ever?), and Jasmine tries to use her executive power to get him out of jail free, but it doesn't work.
Long story short, Aladdin is that "diamond in the ruff" that Jafar needs to get him a special artifact from the Cave of Wonders. Aladdin goes into the cave, gets the lamp but the cave goes nuts and begins to collapse. Aladdin makes it to the mouth and Jafar tries to do a bait and switch on him. Aladdin falls back into the cave and it closes forever. Jafar is left out in the desert alone thinking he has the lamp. He doesn't.
It's not easy to steal from professional thieves. Aladdin rubs this beat up old lamp, and gets hooked up with a sweet genie.
Genie says, "Hey dude, you get three wishes." So Aladdin's like, "Sweet, hook me up with some money, and a cool title like that Jafar guy." Genie says, "I'll do you one better, I'll make you a prince."
So he makes Aladdin a prince, so he can get in good with the princess. Suddenly he's gone from the 99% to Agrabah's corporate whore. Nobody calls him on it though.
He begins lobbying for favor with the current administration, and gets it, big time. Jasmine decides to marry him, and he's in line for the next term as ruler of the empire.
Course if anyone bothered to follow the money behind his operation they'd see that he gained his wealth off the use of slave (genie) labor. But, ya know...he's just running for executive office. No big deal.
Ironically, it's Jafar (the original manipulator of the system) who blows the whistle on the whole thing. He calls Aladdin out as a fraud, and takes over control, with a new administration.
That's just politics as usual, I guess.
A big hoedown throw down dominates the rest of the movie, and essentially Jafar becomes trapped in his own greed, and gets knocked out of power, into slave labor, where he will spend the rest of his life working to make others rich.
Aladdin becomes the savior, not only to the people in Agrabah, but he liberates the genie from his servant status, and everyone lives happily ever after.
So what have we learned today?
1) Never trust establishment politicians like Jafar because they are greedy and evil.
2) Stealing is cool because the bread doesn't belong to just one person, the bread belongs to all of us. We should just share.
3) Don't get a job, you may end up being rich if you do little or no work, if you know the right people in government, and have a genie.
4) Parrots live in the middle east apparently.
5) Josh wants a pet tiger, 'cause that'd just be badass.
Thank you Disney for a wholesome, moral tale of the evils of money, wealth inequality and redistribution. I can't wait to see the inevitable follow ups when they're released from the Disney vault....
and the ever popular...
Slumdog-Street Rat- Millionaire