The 2019 live action ‘Aladdin’ was mostly fun. It had some thrilling moment, just enough romance, and generally, a good time. And I still wondered if that was enough. Honestly, I wasn’t thrilled about seeing this, but the screening times fit, and I had some spots in my AMC A List reservations, so sure why not. After the movie, I felt like I wanted more. I felt it needed some more – something inspired, something new. I mean, it already had something blue, and for the record, I thought Will Smith did a good job of making the role his, and not a copy of Robin Williams, even if, at times, he is reciting the exact same line. They added some things here – a generic song from Pasek & Paul that tried to mirror ‘Let It Go’ – and most of those things did not add much to the movie. The best bits about this were the ones from the original. So I ask myself, does this movie have a reason for existing? The original is still there, and will still be enjoyed by millions more, so I chuck this only to one thing – greed.
Okay, something will happen that has never happened before: I am going to rave about a Will Smith movie. Even better, I am rave about a Will Smith performance in said movie. When his wife, Jada Smith started making noise last week because of the non-diversity in the Oscar nominations, some people have admonished her to say that she was only bitter because her husband was not nominated. I gotta go with Jada on this one: Smith should have been nominated. (But then again, I also thought that Tom Courtenay should also have been nominated, so there’s that) He gives a great subdues performance here as Bennett Umalu, the physician who ‘broke the code’ that multiple concussions in football players result to a protein excretion in the brain that leads to a variety of neurological dysfunctions. I loved teh fact that you can most times forget that this is Will Smith playing Umalu: the accent, the darkened skin, the un-WIll Smith of it all just adds to the over all effect. It’s a dignified performance – I totally believed him as a doctor who symbolizes the American dream. And the film retains the said dignity – it’s a David and Goliath tale but it never makes that fact too obvious, never overplaying one side or the other, though you clearly knew what side the film is on. The love story between Omulu and Peema (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) provides a sweet counterpart, though I wonder how much of that was true. Whatever you think of Jada Smith’s boycott, I think it;s a good thing that because of that, people perhaps have become more curious about this movie (I know I didn’t have any desire of seeing it before) because I think the movie is worth seeing, and the performance of Smith worth noting as well.