Aladdin (2019)

Weekend Roundtable: Disney Disasters

Due to scheduling issues, we won’t have a review of the new live-action remake of Aladdin in the blog this week. Assuming that it’s anywhere near as awful as it looks (because it looks really awful), this makes us wonder how badly Disney might mangle some of its other classics.

M. Enois Duarte

Just this year alone has seen the live-action remakes for Dumbo, Aladdin, and The Lion King, and there are already plans for Lady and the Tramp, Cruella, and Mulan for next year. This steamrolling effort to adapt classic animated features is clearly not going away anytime soon. I wonder what it would look like if Disney execs attempted a live-action reimagining of Pocahontas. No surprise to anyone who knows Disney’s history with diversity, the love story of a young Native American woman falling for an imperialist British settler caused quite the controversy and uproar in the summer of 1995.

Given the studio’s future plans, this would be an opportunity for the House of Mouse to correct some serious wrongs. The plot – which is very, very, VERY loosely based on real tragic events – is historically inaccurate, culturally offensive, and racially insensitive. Then again, seeing as how Tim Burton’s Dumbo turned out to be a box-office flop (barely making back its overhead costs thanks to overseas ticket sales) and Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin might be another misguided failure (the reviews have been lukewarm at best so far), a live-action adaptation of Pocahontas could turn out to be just as divisive as its predecessor.

Just to add insult to injury, how about we have Bobby Farrelly direct, since his brother Peter was also tasked with bringing a “very loosely based on a true story” tale to life and look at how that… Well, that’s a discussion for another time.

Brian Hoss

At this point, I can pretty much imagine Disney remaking just about any classic into a garish live-action feature. I’ve always liked The Emperor’s New Groove and would think that a remake is completely unnecessary, so naturally Disney will select it soon. I can see Tim Burton directing with Amy Schumer as emperor Kuzco, Channing Tatum as Pacha, and of course Helena Bonham Carter as the spell-casting Yzma.

Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)

I’m sure it goes without saying that Abel Ferrara is going to shift the backdrop for his live-action version of The Aristocats. Au revoir, early 20th Century France. How you doin’, gritty modern-day New York!

From what I’ve seen of an early treatment, the beats of the plot are largely the same, just Ferrara-ified. Hoity-toity cat Duchess (voiced by Shanyn Leigh) and her wee little kittens take a tumble out of the car when their owner ODs upstate. Though they’re briefly lost and alone, Duchess’ new alleycat pal Thomas (voiced by Harvey Keitel) volunteers to help her back into the city.

The journey is arduous enough already – being shot at while hitching a ride on a dairy conglomerate’s 18-wheeler, attacked by strung-out geese on the train – and it’s about to get a whole lot worse. You see, Duchess’ dead owner left her fortune to her cats, and her nefarious butler Edgar (Willem Dafoe) is hellbent on killing them to claim that cash for himself. Thankfully, Duchess and company have made plenty of friends along the way to help them out, including underground rapper Scat Cat (voiced by Schoolly D) and disgraced police horse Frou-Frou (voiced by Christopher Walken). Edgar may be out for blood, but these kitties have sharper claws than he knows.

Josh Zyber

When I saw Guy Ritchie’s name attached to Aladdin, I could hardly fathom a less appropriate matching of director and content. In what way was the man who made Snatch qualified to helm a fantasy musical set in the Middle East? It boggles the mind how that deal got inked.

Along those lines, I suppose it’s inevitable for Mel Gibson to direct a remake of Song of the South. The original movie has long been one of the most problematic titles in Disney’s catalog, so much so that the studio has suppressed it from release for decades. Yet characters and songs from it are still featured on the Splash Mountain rides at multiple Disney theme parks, and I have no doubt that the corporate execs are eager to further monetize them. Who better to handle such material with sensitivity than the man famous for his multiple racist meltdowns? I can’t wait to see how he turns a stereotype-heavy collection of folk fables into a hyper-violent religious parable. Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah, indeed.

Your Turn

Which of its classics do you think Disney will desecrate next, and how much of a mess will the result be?

The blog will take Monday off for the Memorial Day holiday. Have a great long weekend!

18 comments

  1. photogdave

    You can’t go wrong with a good ol’ talking animal movie, thanks to CG mouths. Time for a live action Bambi!

  2. EM

    “Thanks for coming on such short notice, everyone—ooh, snacks! Anyway, I gotta tell ya: The suits upstairs love the live‐action Toy Story project and are ready to greenlight—but we gotta discuss the format.”
    “You mean, 2D or not 2D—that is the question?”
    “Itʼs not that, but…theyʼre wondering about the characters. Do we do makeup? masks? what? Weʼre talkinʼ ʼbout plastic people here.”
    “I assume youʼre still talking about the Toy Story characters, not the characters upstairs. Makeup and/or masks could work, but weʼll need other solutions for some, like Slink Dog and RC—you know, the car? Rex might be a problem.”
    “Hey, weʼre Disney. How about Audio-Animatronics?”
    “Great stuff in the parks. But complicated as hell. And—I like the Imagineers—they do great work, really—but letʼs face it: Mr. Lincoln wowed ʼem in the ʼ60s, but that Drumpf‐droid in Florida looks even less like a Homo sapiens than the real thing.”
    “Yeah, but these are toys—theyʼre not supposed to look perfectly human.”
    “But they are supposed to have heart. Audio‐Animawhatsit canʼt fake heart—weʼll have to do it another way.”
    “Stop animation?”
    “Like Jason and the Argonauts? It wonʼt fly.”
    “Wait, not stop animation…just animation. CGI!”
    “Huh.”
    “Yeah, why not? If the Dumbo live‐action can have an animated star, why not this movie?”
    “Bringing up Dumbo isnʼt the best salesmanship.”
    “No, but itʼll work. We bring back the beloved Toy Story characters as CGI versions of themselves—”
    “Uh, that is themselves—”
    “—and we make the human characters live‐action. Andy, Andyʼs mom, Sid Vicious or whatever his name is, and so on. Oh, and Sidʼs dog, Spuds!”
    “Scud.”
    “No, I think we might need Scud animated. Hey, we could get Laurie Metcalf to reprise Mom!”
    “Who?”
    “Roseanneʼs sister.”
    “Oooh, she was creepy in that Scream sequel. Hey, can we get Will Smith?”
    “As Andyʼs mom?!?!?”
    “No, just in the movie somewhere.”
    “Andyʼs dad?”
    “Andyʼs momʼs boyfriend?”
    “That could work.”
    “Oh, and he could cover ‘Youʼve Got a Friend in Meʼ.”
    “We should have a couple of versions. Will does one, and Selena Gomez or Shakira does one.”
    “…I think weʼve got a hit. Nice work, everyone!”

  3. Plissken99

    Pirates of the Caribbean.. the first movie was great by a total fluke, as the sequels grew steadily worse, and just kept making them! I honestly can’t recall if I saw the last one with Bardem, and don’t care one way or the other.

    • Julian

      Yeah, but how can they make a live-action version of ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’? Because that movie was already live-action …

      • EM

        Are you so sure Johnny Depp wasnʼt a cartoon?

        Though Joshʼs example was a live‐action remake of a cartoon and many of us went that route, strictly speaking the question as worded doesnʼt limit itself to that particular change of format.

  4. “… there are already plans for Lady and the Tramp for next year” (Duarte)

    This year, even. It’s a Disney+ exclusive in November 2019. No idea how they decide which movie gets a theatrical release, and which one will go straight to the streaming service.

    • Chaz

      Thats because, as much I LOVE Tron Legacy, it tanked. Aladdin has already made over half of what Tron Legacy did in its entire run. Tron cost almost $200 million to make and it only doubled that with over seas totals included, not a very successful movie, Aladdin and just about any other of their live action remakes will crush those numbers. All of Disney’s original live action movies like Tron, Into the Woods (which was pretty awful) and Tomorrowland all didnt do well, so of course they are going to go this route for their films, and anyways, I loved the live action Aladdin, thought it was a great family movie and cant wait to own it on 4K 🙂

  5. Chaz

    Aladdin was actually pretty damn good, audience score for it is really high and I had a great time with it. I have with all of their live action remakes, all have been at LEAST good, ones like the Jungle Book was pretty great IMO. They’ve done a really good job at adapting them and Aladdin is no exception

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