(Photo by © Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection)
It seems like everyone remembers where they were when they first saw it: the first look at Will Smith as the blue genie in Disney’s live-action remake of Aladdin. There was something so seemingly “off” about the first images released of the superstar in his new, very digital, blue look that fans of the animated original balked and the Internet piled on. A Den of Geek headline read: “First look at Will Smith’s Genie Horrifies Just About Everyone.”
When the movie itself was released, gaping jaws turned into wide-stretched grins: Not only was Will Smith’s genie actually kinda awesome – in motion and with effects actually completed – but Smith had done the seemingly impossible. If he didn’t quite match the iconic-ness of Robin Williams’ original animated crack at the character, he certainly made a strong impression and gave Aladdin’s wish-maker a lovable feel all his own.
Audiences ate it up, along with Guy Ritchie’s energetic direction, the lavish and bouncy musical numbers, and two star-making performances from Naomi Scott as Jasmine and Mena Massoud as Aladdin. The movie crushed at the global box office, raking in more than a billion dollars worldwide, and fans pushed its Audience Score here on Rotten Tomatoes to an epic 94%, surpassing even the super-popular Lion King “live-action” remake.
So why did critics slap 2019’s Aladdin with a Rotten 57% on the Tomatometer? And were they – and in turn we – wrong about this shining, shimmering, splendid stand-out among Disney’s crop of remakes?
That’s what we’re asking in the latest episode of Rotten Tomatoes Is Wrong, where host Mark Ellis is joined by guest co-host Naz Perez, frontwoman for Rotten Tomatoes’ The Ketchup and person whose father regularly impersonated Jafar in her childhood home. (So, yes, she is kinda obsessed with the original animated film.) They’re also joined this week by Winston A. Marshall – a.k.a. host, comedian, and actor the “Swaggy Blerd” – an equally huge fan of the original movie.
Did the new film send them soaring, tumbling, and freewheeling? Or did it leave them hoping to never see a new live-action Disney flick for at least another 10,000 years – neck cricks be damned.
Check in every Thursday for a new episode of Rotten Tomatoes Is Wrong (A Podcast From Rotten Tomatoes). Each week, hosts Jacqueline and Mark and guests go deep and settle the score on some of the most beloved – and despised – movies and TV shows ever made, directly taking on the statement we hear from so many fans: “Rotten Tomatoes is wrong.”
Check out some more episodes of Rotten Tomatoes Is Wrong:
If you have a suggestion for a movie or show you think we should do an episode on, let us know in the comments, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meet the hosts
Jacqueline Coley is an editor at Rotten Tomatoes, with a focus on awards and indie coverage but with a passion for everything, from the MCU to musicals and period pieces. Coley is a regular moderator at conventions and other events, can be seen on Access Hollywood and other shows, and will not stand Constantine slander of any kind. Follow Jacqueline on Twitter: @THATjacqueline.
Mark Ellis is a comedian and contributing editor for Rotten Tomatoes. He currently hosts the Rotten Tomatoes series Versus, among others, and can be seen co-hosting the sports entertainment phenomenon Movie Trivia Schmoedown. His favorite Star Wars movie is Jedi (guess which one!), his favorite person is actually a dog (his beloved stepdaughter Mollie), and – thanks to this podcast – he’s about to watch Burlesque for the first time in his life. Follow Mark on Twitter: @markellislive.