Aladdin: Disney has taken upon itself to remake virtually anything in their animation library. More recent efforts have included those included in my review of Black Beauty, also a remake from December 7th. Now Disney has taken on the remake of the Robin Williams vehicle Aladdin. Will Smith takes on the leading role of the genie. To his credit, he and the buff CGI body that he exhibits doesn’t try to emulate in any way the comic genius of Robin Williams. No one could and it would be folly to try. Instead he does a lot more singing, and throws in a few extra jokes. The rest of the cast isn’t really remarkable or known to me in any way. The story has remained the same with the “diamond in the rough” street rat who needs to be found in order to obtain treasure from a perilous cavern. He meets by accident the local princess from the Sultan’s palace and impresses her. She is forced by culture to be married as she cannot be a ruler. Her father, the Sultan is a bit nerdy and has been influenced by the sinister Jaffar with plans of his own. The songs remain the same, and they have added a couple. Notably they have tried to make the Princess more independent and strong-willed to show her breaking free of the societal norms placed upon her. In the end it is all too familiar, and by the end you wonder why this had to be made in the first place. Yes I have a Disney + membership, but that has been for The Mandalorian and some other classics more so than these remakes. I am already paying for them, and will watch Mulan for example, but I didn’t and wouldn’t have paid for them in the theatre. There are better places to put my more expensive movie dollars. Anyway, if you love all things Disney, and many people do, this may work for you. For me, I value the Robin Williams performance enough that I respect it remaining on its own. I didn’t need to see this. I cannot recommend it, and it seems like a lot of effort for no real pay off. You want your kids to experience Aladdin and some laughs, watch Robin.
Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart: This new documentary has a more recent interview with the eldest Bee Gee, Barry Gibb, and survivor of the Gibb troupe. I enjoy seeing documentaries about musicians when they get into the creative process. How does a person get inspired to create something totally new? Those who can do so, are remarkable in my mind with a special gift. Those who are able to exploit that gift fully are entitled, in my mind, to everything that they get. The world is a better place for the efforts that they came. I am reminded at this point about the recent review I did about Dolly Parton. Like the Bee Gees, I wouldn’t seek out a live concert with Dolly Parton, but she has written hundreds of songs, and she is able at times to create a new song in minutes. Here, the Bee Gees for example where a young act in Australia and decided to move to Britain after the Beatles were massive in the 60s. They were successful song writers early on, despite their sound feeling like copycat Beatles. A song like “To Love Somebody” and “I Started a Joke” are those that I knew upon hearing but didn’t know that they were from the Bee Gees. They are quintessentially sixties. But then you are told about the rights to a New Yorker article about Dancing in Manhattan in the 70s, you have the purchaser reach out to the Bee Gees to write some appropriate music. It includes Maurice being told to write the greatest love song of his life, and coming up with “How Deep is your Love?” The other songs for Saturday Night Fever create the greatest selling soundtrack to date, and a colossal movie hit. One thing I did not know what that Robin and Maurice were twins. With old brother Barry they were the group. Later little Andy joins in, although he later succumbs to drug addiction at the age of 30yo. Drugs beyond this aren’t really mentioned, but you have to expect that the partying and scene for disco in that time with the Kings of it, with money and power would have been tremendous. I found this interesting and worth my time. The Bee Gees, well Barry, would like to be remembered as song writers, rather than creators of disco. They wrote songs for people like Barbra Streisand, the aforementioned Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers, Dionne Warwick, Diana Ross etc. Even with “Disco Sucks” and the backlash for being associated with it, they remain formidable songwriters of their era.