No one is going into the new live-action Aladdin expecting Will Smith to come anywhere close to replicating the magic of Robin Williams’ Genie performance in the 1992 animated film. That said, for an actor with his background in music and entertainment, Smith feels like he’s kind of under-selling this rendition of “Prince Ali” in the latest clip from Aladdin:
It’s probably not Smith’s fault—we know he’s capable of so much more than this tepid version of what should be a much livelier tune, meant to introduce Aladdin’s fictional Prince Ali persona to the citizens of Agrabah. It’s a hype-man track. This... doesn’t feel like it has much hype to it. It’s a total shrug. “Here’s Prince Ali, I guess. He’s a prince, ya know. So anyway, here’s a bunch of feathers and stuff.” There’s also the weird choice to have Smith ride down the streets atop a pair of ostriches as he sings the line “When it comes to exotic-type mammals.” Does director Guy Ritchie know that ostriches are birds and that birds are not mammals? Don’t they have a lowly, unpaid intern to research these crucial visual aids?
Aladdin hits theaters on May 24. Here’s the official synopsis, in case you forgot how this story goes:
A thrilling and vibrant live-action adaptation of Disney’s animated classic, “Aladdin” is the exciting tale of the charming street rat Aladdin, the courageous and self-determined Princess Jasmine and the Genie who may be the key to their future. Directed by Guy Ritchie, who brings his singular flair for fast-paced, visceral action to the fictitious port city of Agrabah, “Aladdin” is written by John August and Ritchie based on Disney’s “Aladdin.” The film stars Will Smith as the Genie; Mena Massoud as Aladdin; Naomi Scott as Jasmine; Marwan Kenzari as Jafar; Navid Negahban as the Sultan; Nasim Pedrad as Dalia; Billy Magnussen as Prince Anders; and Numan Acar as Hakim.