Plot: Aladdin lives in the slums with his widowed mother, but he dreams of a grander life and of course, true love. His heart has been swept away by a princess, but he knows he can’t offer the kind of life that her father would approve of, so she is likely going to marry someone else. When his uncle learns of Aladdin’s desperate need for wealth or power, he lets his nephew in on a secret, a mysterious cave of wonders that it said to hold nearly limitless riches. But once inside the cave, Aladdin learns a harsh lesson when his uncle abandons him and leaves him trapped inside, though a new friend manages to lend a hand. An old lamp in the cave happens to hold a genie (Barry Bostwick), a good genie that befriends Aladdin and offers to help him not only escape the cave, but pursue his true love. But even with the help of a powerful genie, can Aladdin overcome the odds and win the heart of the princess?
Entertainment Value: This is one outlandish movie, a made for television production that filmed a stage version of Aladdin, then mixed in some odd, low rent visual effects to punch up the production values. The end result is odd, but hilarious at times and has one of the most wonderful, out of this world performances around, with Barry Bostwick as the genie of the lamp. The narrative takes the Aladdin story to China, but despite a blend of what are supposed to Chinese and Arabian characters, most of cast are white performers. It is a strange approach, but one that adds to the ludicrous nature of the movie and piles on more weirdness. I have to think a good portion of viewers will dismiss this adaptation, as it does have low production values, shrill musical numbers, and a cast that varies from barely alive to wired like a microwave, but I had immense fun with this oddball flick. But I do want to be clear, the movie is a hybrid of sorts as I said before, as it is a stage production, though this performance of the material was not recorded live. So it feels more cinematic than most filmed stage plays, including the laughable visual effects I mentioned. I admit, this one caught me by surprise, but it has a metric ton of b movie appeal and for those who can appreciate outlandish cinema of all stripes, Aladdin is recommended.
I live for the kind of performances that you just can’t believe you’re witnessing, a mix of unbridled enthusiasm and lackluster material that results in an outlandish, insanely entertaining experience. Barry Bostwick has a career with numerous roles of this kind, as he seems to throw himself into any character, no matter how small the part or how mediocre the material. So what could be forgettable, bland characters turn into the most memorable ones in the movies, as Bostwick throws so much energy and enthusiasm into his work. That is certainly the case in Aladdin, as he just goes for broke as the genie and his performance has to be seen to be believed. The sequence where he meets Aladdin and explains the genie concept is hilarious, just over the top and pure entertainment, all done with such high energy. I know some will dislike how campy or zany Bostwick is here, but the movie needed that badly, so to me, his performance here is the highlight, hands down. The cast also includes Richard Kiley, Susan Egan, and B.J. Turner, while Micky Dolenz was the film’s director.