Most of us are familiar with the Middle Eastern folk tale of Aladdin, which is one of the best known tales from The Book of One Thousand and One Nights (The Arabian Nights). It has been adapted into books, pantomimes, animated and live-action films, television segments, musical theater, comics, and video games, with the 1992 Walt Disney animated feature Aladdin arguably the most recognized out of them all. The New Adventures of Aladdin is an updated French comedic version of this ancient fantasy tale that puts a more modern twist on the story, while also emulating the comedic likings of Monty Python, Austin Powers, Naked Gun, Princess Bride, and Baron Munchhausen. It is chock full of low brow comedy gags, sexual innuendos, and satirical movie references that will either be downright hilarious or potentially offensive and annoying to the viewers. This big budget production was successful in its native France, thanks to the bankability of its young comedic star Kev Adams.
The story is described as a remixed version of Aladdin. In a modern setting, two friends Sam (Kev Adams) and Khalid (William Lebghil) dress like Santa with the intent to rob a local department store. Before the heist can begin, Sam is roped into telling a story for a group of kids, which leads to his updated version of Aladdin. The story falls somewhere between the Aladdin cartoon and the original folk tale, while jumping back into present time a la Princess Bride. It’s hard to determine who the intended audience for this actually is, because it often plays out like a kid-oriented PG film. Yet it is full of crude sexual humor and dialogue that is clearly intended for the tween and adult audiences. The verbal and visual jokes are thrown at a furious pace and are laugh out loud funny at times, especially a long running Star Wars bit. There are many jokes about the 21st Century placed into a period setting, including an outrageous music video sequence.
First time director and co-star Arthur Benzaquen does an excellent job delivering a grand looking spectacle within the confines of a vast CGI setting. The set and costume designs are of high quality and provide a nice mixture of earth tone colors that makes it look like the Middle Eastern city of Baghdad. The special effects all look good, especially the flying carpet scenes and scenes involving the genie. At times, it is actually hard to discern what is CGI versus practical locations. The music contains what would be considered a classical Aladdin style score mixed with French rap and pop music, including a Beyonce song.
The acting is great, as far as can be determined from an English dubbed version of the film (there will also be a French language release with English subtitles). Adams and Lebghil make a fine comedic duo as Sam and Khalid, with the rest of cast perfectly portraying their respectable characters. Jean-Paul Rouve is wonderfully deadpan as the evil Le Vizir, working well with the other characters that he interacts with. Eric Judor plays the genie as a totally farcical character that acts outrageously gay at times, quite possibly pushing the boundaries of taste. One negative aspect is that Aladdin and the genie don’t have much screen time together, which takes away from the growing friendship between the two. This friendship is the major reason for Aladdin freeing the genie in the end and it isn’t presented as well in this version of the tale.
If you like humor that is completely and utterly low brow and isn’t afraid to be crude and include fart jokes amongst them, then this is for you. For those that fall into that category, it is an entertaining ride with a constant bombardment of humorous gags.
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