By Subhash K. Jha
Film: “Aladdin”; Director: Guy Ritchie; Cast: Will Smith, Naomi Scott and Mena Massoud; Rating: *1/2
Will Smith delivers his career’s worst performance as the blue genie in this poor, shoddy, ill-conceived and entirely appalling recreation of a beloved fable. Unlike Robin Williams who was delightfully into it as the voice of the genie in the (far superior) 1992 animation version, Smith crawls, drawls and croons his way through some truly uninspired singing and disinterested acting.
Here is an actor and superstar at the peak of his powers, messing it up with his over-confidence.
Not that Smith could have done much with the material on hand. The writing is so flimsy and trite that this feels more like “Aladdin” for primers than a revisionist version of a tale told so many time that it doesn’t need repeating. Even if it does merit a remake, it cannot be something as obstinately status quo as this.
This “Aladdin” is stiff and unrelentingly obsequious to the original material. The romance between the commoner and the princess with help from the genie, moves with the giggly awkwardness of a child who is thrown on stage at a birthday party to perform without rehearsals. No thought has gone into the plot, which is burdened by its own responsibility of being faithful to the original. It sinks without even trying to swim.
The performances, including that of Mr. Smith (who will find it very hard to live down this embarrassment), are laughably amateurish. Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine sleep-walks through the film with a glazed expression as though not sure of what she is doing in this silly little film, wearing what look like Dimple Kapadia’s discarded costumes from “Ajooba”.
Mena Massoud as Aladdin is no revelation. The monkey on his back – not the film but a real monkey – makes a bigger impression.
The biggest disappointment after Will Smith are the songs and dances where we sense a Bollywood touch, a very low-life kind of Bollywood influence floating around like dust particles after a ragged storm.
Can the genie grant us one more wish and just make this awful film disappear?