October 9th, 2004

Tom Lehrer is Smug

(no subject)

Black tea is very very delicious, especially if you get black tea with black raspberry and/or black tea and honey. But perhaps one should not be on one's fourth cup at 5 in the morning. Know the scene in Big Trouble in Little China where Jack and Wang and their pals drink Egg's magic potion? ("What's in the flask, Egg?" "Magic potion." "Good, thought so, what do we do? Drink it?" "Yeah." "Good, thought so.") Yeah, that's how I feel right now. Ready to shake the pillars of Heaven.

I got the Aladdin 2-DVD set tonight. It was on sale at Stah Mahket, of all places. I can't remember the last time I saw the film. Definitely during Clinton's first term, that's for sure. Watching a favorite movie you haven't seen in a long time is like meeting an old friend you haven't seen in a long time. You smile giddily, you share some old favorite jokes, you may tear up at parts, but overall you're so glad to renew the old acquaintances. And you also begin to slowly recall nuances.

(Paul Reiser, Diner: "Know what word I'm not comfortable with? Nuance. It's not a real word, like gesture. With gesture you know where you stand. But nuance? I don't know...")

I forgot how rich Aladdin's colors were, especially in the Cave of Wonders chase sequence. The purples and oranges have every possible chance (and every right) to clash in a horrible fashion, but they end up being glowing and warm together. The golds used are just beautiful.

I forgot the wonderful way Aladdin and Jasmine play off one another when they're flirting (Jasmine's facial expressions are very well-crafted.) There's a scene after the "Whole New World" number where they're sitting together and she reaches over, playfully flicks the feather in Prince Ali's cap, and then puts her head on his shoulder, sighing happily. Her sigh sells the scene, but it's his bewildered-leading-to-"whoa hey a girl!" expression that seals the deal. Whatever that means. (shaking the pillars of Heaven, I am.)

I forgot the Genie's manic intensity -- well, I remembered the character, but not the absolute abandon Robin Williams gives the role. This is the "I Can't Believe He's Not on the Coke Again" Robin Williams we all know and love, not that Patch Adams schlockmeister. The Genie does get to express his desires for freedom with great pathos and feeling, sure, but it doesn't feel artificial or forced down our throats. And the songs! I got those wonderful goosebumps of familiarity while watching the musical numbers, and I had to go back and watch "Friend Like Me" a few times just because.

It's not all perfect, of course. Some things simply haven't stood the test of time. Iago the parrot spits out an early 90s "Not!" which made me cringe, and with the exception of the texture-mapped Carpet and the Cave of Wonder's entrance, the CG looks very outdated. Mostly due to the textures used, I think. (The tower that nearly rolls over Aladdin and Abu on the snowy peak? It's just a hollow cylinder, dammit! Kids can model that at home these days.)

The DVD extras are pretty decent, too. The Making-Of featurette on the second disc is a lot of fun, even if there's too much Gilbert Gottfried for anybody's good. Getting to see Eric Goldberg's pencil test of the Robin Williams schizophrenia routine, which I'd heard about but hadn't ever seen, was worth the price of admission.

If it weren't for Lilo & Stitch and The Emperor's New Groove (yes, I admit, I'm a sucker for Mark Dindal and yes, I realize I'm probably the only heterosexual male in America who owns up to liking Cats Don't Dance) then Aladdin would be my favorite traditionally-animated Disney film. As it is, it ranks very high, which is more than I can say for that dreadful Pocahontas or the godawful Hunchback.

Though I liked the gargoyles in Hunchback. Okay.