I’ve always loved a good laugh. Even when I was a little girl, I was never captivated by the pretty princesses in their evening gowns or the handsome princes whisking them off their feet (well, except for maybe Prince Eric). Some might suspect this was because I had an acute sense of feminism from the ripe age of five (or more realistically, one might point to the fact that I was a tomboy), but it would be far more accurate to conclude that what I enjoyed most in any movie was simply comedy and good friendship.
Naturally, it follows that Aladdin is my favorite Disney movie of all time, because what other Disney movie is packed with such wit and camaraderie? The indisputable answer (that is to say, you can dispute it, but you’d be wrong) is none. Why, you ask? (I see you’re back to asking disruptive questions. That will be 7.5 pushups and one backwards recitation of the alphabet). Well, the movie has always had some kind of charm that other prince & princess movies do not. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Aladdin is more authentic (you know, after he gets past all that deception and decides to tell Jasmine who he really is), or because Jasmine is a bit more of a rebel than some of the other princesses (she did spit in Jafar’s face, after all. Can you imagine Cinderella doing that?). Or we could just chalk it up to a certain je ne sais quoi and leave it there. But the simple truth is that it’s because no other Disney movie has the Genie. Think about it.
I can mark the exact moment that I (and undoubtedly hundreds of others) fell in love with Aladdin. It sounds a bit like this: “10,000 years will give you such a crick in the neck!” Said in the voice of Robin Williams, it sounds exactly like that. From that moment onward, the Genie became the character that pumped hilarity (and, if we’re being honest, much of the meaningful morality) into the movie.
But the Genie would not be half the beloved character that he is if it weren’t for the humor and personality of Robin Williams. The very way he vocalized each line breathed life into the blue shapeshifter, making him into something much more real than just the goofy spirit of the lamp. From an effusive magic carpet flight attendant, to an overblown game show host, to a picky tailor, to everything in-between, the audience can’t help but remain captivated. But despite his grand displays of humor, it becomes evident that the Genie feels trapped by his role; he is a “phenomenal cosmic power…(in an) itty bitty living space” and all he wants is to be free. Robin was able to capture this depth perfectly, perhaps because he wasn’t altogether a stranger to the feeling.
So, to me, Robin Williams will always be that deep, comedic Genie. He was versatile, transforming into any role with a snap of his fingers, whether that be an empathetic therapist or a blundering female nanny. He could capture any accent and master any impression. He could be the perfect companion or he could steal the show. And above all, he never failed to make us laugh, granting our wish for a life filled with many moments of happiness. So, thank you, Robin. You will be missed.