Our top 25 animated movies list heads down the final stretch, the five best films ever made. This quintet separated itself from the pack with a ton of support from multiple members of the panel. Tomorrow: #3.
4) Aladdin (7 votes, 314 points)
Shaun: It’s weird how highly I regard this movie, considering much of the second part I don’t like. Everything in the beginning? Stellar. Great characters are introduced, the villain is menacing, the stakes are real, and the hero is humble, charming, and relatable….
….until he turns into a douche in act 2. Now, I get it. Anyone with the nearly limitless power that is three genie wishes would probably be a little changed. And it’s not like act 2 doesn’t have its great moments with a flying carpet, or that Aladdin doesn’t redeem himself. It just portrays the character in a way I don’t care for, and I gladly skip through this part when I watch the movie….
….so I get straight to act 3, which turns Aladdin into one of the better action flicks, as far as animated movies go. Sliding through the snow into the rolling tower’s window so he doesn’t get squashed? Classic. Dodging snake bites from a huge serpent Jafar? You the man, Al! Running and leaping onto a diamond to then skate across the surface? Aladdin practically invented Parkour!
Chris: This is the first of two unanimous picks from our panel (our choice for #1 is the other).
Even more than two decades later, we’re forced to admit that Aladdin was a hell of a ride.
Sure, it has many of the standard 90s Disney features here — princess character who gets captured at one point but can still hold her own, animal sidekick character(s) with anthropomorphic tendencies, etc. But the reason it soars above the rest is twofold. One, its swashbuckling protagonist is a ton of fun to watch, dancing between guards and rooftops with the greatest of ease and using sleight of hand to make apples appear out of nowhere. Sure, Aladdin gets a little lost along the way with the power of the lamp, but after spending his entire life with nothing, being no one, it’s understandable that he’d be wary of admitting to the truth about himself.
But more importantly, Aladdin is a vehicle for the Genie. There is perhaps no role in cinema that was a better match between actor and character than Robin Williams was for Genie. Madcap impressions, schizophrenic personality switches, unbridled and frenetic energy…it’s all there. It’s actually a shame that Disney couldn’t abide by his terms for doing the movie, which is what caused him not to appear in the sequel before fences were mended for King of Thieves. Robin Williams completely owned that role, to the point where no one else could even come close to filling it.
(As a side note, I kinda wonder about an alternate universe out there where Dan Castellaneta was the original Genie. His performance in Return of Jafar and the cartoon and Kingdom Hearts is certainly good — it’s just not Robin Williams, and can’t ever be.)
Then you factor in one of the best soundtracks top to bottom in any animated film, with sweeping and elaborate numbers like Friend Like Me and Prince Ali and an awesome duet in A Whole New World. Toss in a bright and vibrant world in Agrabah, one of the best Disney villains in Jafar, an awesomely animated sequence when Aladdin escapes the Cave of Wonders on the flying carpet…so good. This movie is great, and it’s one I’ll always treasure from my childhood.
Cary: Aladdin is one of those movies that you think is going to be a typical fairy tale with a happy ending (and it is) but that turns out to be so much more than “typical.” What drives Aladdin way beyond the bounds of most Disney movies is its humor. Credit there goes to its writers and amazingly funny voice cast (Robin Williams as the Genie, Gilbert Gottfried as the parrot Iago, even Jonathan Freeman as the eeeeevil Jafar gets in his fair share of comedic licks). The humor in Aladdin is broad enough to appeal to anyone with a funny bone. It doesn’t hurt that all the hilarity is built upon a solid story smattered with believability and cheekiness. Plus, it brims with musicality, from its actual songs to the beautiful way the story flows from one scene to the next. All in all, Aladdin is tops in the 1990s rebirth of Disney 2D animation.
PREVIOUS TOP 25s: