Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Nora Ephron's "Aladdin"

Well, since this is the last two-reel color Popeye extravaganza from the Fleischers, and it's probably the least favourite amongst the fans, it therefore makes sense that I pay the most attention to it.  And once again, I'll leave the cultural implications of it all to the experts.  Besides, only Disney is forgiven their racial insensitivities because they're the most successful animation studio of all time... including Cretaceous and Devonian.  I just can't think of a good example...

...looks like I'm not going to get any extra time this week.  Okay, I'll just stick with the highlights.  Yes, this film is overloaded with evil Arab stereotypes, and yes, Popeye himself doesn't even look all that Arabic.  What's up with that, anyway?  I'm not even able to tell who the genie is supposed to offend... Ed Wynn, maybe?  But I do like that there doesn't seem to be all that "three wishes" crap that bad joke tellers have way too much fun with.  I don't need to tell you; a quick search of jokes on the internet will bear me out... and probably lead to a lot of porn, so never mind.
I think I was trying to make a point, but I forgot what it was... oh, right.  Speaking of prejudice, you know which character in this prejudice fest is the most prejudiced of all?  THE GENIE HIM/HER/ITSELF!  Take the villain, for example.  All he's asking for in his first wish is to whisk Princess Olive's castle away to a far and distant land.  Child's play for a wish-granting genie, as you'd think.  How does the genie react?  He points at the guy, first of all.  Incredibly violent gesture.  Second, the genie screams "You're CRAZY!!!"  Well, I never!  So much for all that peace and love crap, am I right?  I think the genie's just prejudiced against James Woods, or whoever the bad guy's supposed to be.  The bad guy whips the genie into submission, of course.  The genie says "I didn't say I wouldn't!!" then whisks the castle away to a far and distant land.  Good help is so hard to find.
Of course, spinach is just as powerful as the genie, and Popeye rubs a can of spinach to fight the genie-aided villain.  And even though this two-reeler is the least loved of the three color Popeyes, you gotta give kudos to the Third Act.  The bad guy uses the genie to make himself invisible, and he fights Popeye with a sword.  When I first saw that, many many moons ago... wow.  I was thunderstruck.  Diabolical! I think that I thought.  Seems like an apt word to me, anyhow.  Of course, the 1992 Disney version outdoes all of that, I'm sure.  I haven't re-watched that one in a while.
Popeye's got a few good lines here, like when he's blushing and mutters "I've never made love in Technicolor before!"  We'll leave that aside for now.  And what kind of hard-hearted person wouldn't like it when Popeye tries to get out of the cave and asks the genie "Can ya show me the entrance to the exit?"  From there, Popeye moves quickly up Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.  Popeye mutters to himself that he needs to test this genie to see if it's really telling the truth.  "I wishk I was a wealth-key prince!" Popeye declares.  You know, because no one's ever thought to wish that.  The wish is granted, and Popeye ends up singing "What Can I Do For You?," as good a Broadway tune as any in my blogger's opinion.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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