Oscar-winning tooner Aladdin, featuring a tripped out Robin Williams, was arguably Disney's last great hand-drawn cartoon. The story of a Middle Eastern street urchin who falls in love with a princess captured the hearts and tickled the funny bone of children and adults alike when it opened in 1992. Over a decade later, it remains one of Robin Williams' funniest big-screen performances.
The Bark Of Katzenberg
The extra features on this two-disc Special Edition run at twice the length of the film, the bulk of which is taken up by the two-hour documentary A Diamond In The Rough. Thankfully the folks at Disney have split this sprawling 'making of' feature into 25 segments, linked by excerpts from An Evening With The Filmmakers, hosted by film critic Leonard Maltin.
Among this fabulously eclectic array of featurettes, interviews, archive reels, and scene-to-storyboard comparisons, you'll get the inside track on how former Disney animation head Jeffrey Katzenberg made the lives of his animation team a living nightmare. It's a brilliantly entertaining story that begins when filmmakers Ron Clements and John Musker showed a rough cut of the film to JK, who responded with the ambiguous declaration: "That's a whole lot of movie." Musker and Clements promptly went out and got drunk (don't try this at home, kids) but the worst was yet to come, as the next day Katzenberg ordered them back to the drawing board - literally.
Black Friday is among one of a slew of featurettes that delves into this Katzenberg-induced nightmare, which saw the animation team scramble to restructure the story in just eight days before beginning the arduous process of drawing 24 frames per second all over again. In separate featurettes you'll discover that the super-finicky producer also pooh-poohed the visual rendering of Aladdin, who started life as a small "Michael J Fox"-type. Upon seeing these drawings, the dreaded Katzenberg brusquely advised his team "You need a little more Tom Cruise" - hence the million dollar smile and Roman nose.
As well as showcasing the music that didn't make it to the final cut, there's also an earnest 20-minute profile on composer Alan Menken, known in the business as "Mr Melody Man". Elsewhere on the disc you can see the "genius" at work, tickling the ivories and rehearsing his cast of warblers. Naturally the non-singing voice talent also get a forum - most notable for Robin Williams (as The Blue Genie) doing his trademark shtick, while the co-directors confer: "We can always cut this out later, can't we?"
Kids will go crazy for the interactive games included in this package, the best being the Virtual Magic Carpet Ride, which is crying out to be played on a big-screen TV. However if you're not lucky enough to have one, go to the Three Wishes Game and have a go at shooting the pinball into Jafar's mouth.
This is just a small sampling of a veritable Aladdin's cave of treasures contained on this wildly extravagant two-disc edition. On top of all that, the film looks and sounds better than ever with THX-remastered sound and visuals. If your wish is to keep the kids happy for hours on end, consider it granted.
The Aladdin: Special Edition DVD is out to buy on Monday 4th October 2004.