With so many different entertainment options out there for your children, we at PopcornBiz thought we'd take a moment each week to dissect one piece of family entertainment strictly from a parent's perspective, so that you know what parts are appropriate for your loved ones, and which are not. This week's COVER YOUR EYES subject: “Aladdin.”
Ah, Valentine's Day. You may be a cold-hearted cynic who despises Valentine's Day and makes sure to let everyone on Facebook know about it, but you know who still loves Valentine's Day? Kids. Kids are the true romantics. They love Valentine's Day, mostly because it means they get more candy. So why not get them to come down from eating all those candy hearts with a romantic feature? There are any number of romantic films for children, particularly all the classic Disney movies, like "Cinderella," "Lady & The Tramp," and "Aladdin."
Yes, "Aladdin." A romantic comedy from a more innocent time, back when people thought Robin Williams was funny, and back when making off color jokes about the Middle East in a children's movie was a-okay! Let's consider a few factors and see if the ol' genie flick is okay for your little ones.
The “Will Parents Be Able To Tolerate It?” Factor: Probably. "Aladdin" remains an entertaining little diversion, featuring great action set pieces and goofy monkey hijinks. However, I must warn you that this is a MUSICAL. If, like me, you hate musicals, that can be something of a dealbreaker.
The Dead Parent Factor: Minimal. Aladdin's a street rat with no parents to speak of (a plot line involving his mom was cut from the movie). Jasmine's father is briefly enslaved by the evil Jafar, but eventually comes out of it safe and sound. Frankly, he needed the kick in the pants, if you ask me.
The Sexy Sex Sex Factor: Jasmine, with her exposed midriff and stripper physique, is one more in a long line of Disney princesses that could double as a punching bag for feminists. Yeah, she has the whole "standing up to her parents and being independent" storyline, but there's still a whole body image thing going on that will have an effect on little girls. Also, the whole idea of Jafar making Jasmine his bride is creepy and gross.
The Scare Factor: Heavy. You have that first trip to the Cave of Wonders, which is sinister and has the evil demon voice. Plus Jafar shows up disguised as a deranged hobo, and that makes it even creepier. Then you have Jafar's momentary triumph at the end of the movie, when he becomes a big genie monster and looks as if he's about to swallow the world whole. Very alarming if you're a kid.
The Violence Factor: The usual swords and chase scenes.
The Racism Factor: Arabs were none too pleased with "Aladdin" when it was first released, and I can tell you that the DVD I own still has the song that describes Arabia as a "barbaric" place. I don't think the racism here is anywhere near as bad as a movie like, for example, "Star Wars Episode I." Remember: This is a movie that features Robin Williams AND Gilbert Gottfried. That's going to drown out pretty much every other aspect of the film in question.
Age Range: 4 and up.