Tuesday, May 16, 2017

New Adventures of Aladdin (its French)

Considering it was Antoine Galland who first added the story of Aladdin to the Arabian Nights, the French have as much right as anyone to give him the mash-up treatment. In this case, it probably helps to get the jokes if you understand the anachronistic French idioms. Too bad its dubbed. Be that as it may, Arthur Benzaqueen’s The New Adventures of Aladdin (trailer here) releases today on VOD.

Sam told his out-of-his-league girlfriend Sofia he works in finance, but he is really a homeless bum doing temp work as a department store Santa. He can’t come to Christmas dinner with Sofia’s disapproving family, because he stuck telling stories to the urchins. For some reason, he decides to go with Aladdin, who looks very much like Sam, albeit with radically different wardrobe.

Through various misadventures, Aladdin will acquire a certain lamp housing a less than gracious genie. Wishes will be granted to help the thief win over the beautiful Princess Shallia, but the evil Vizier manipulating her easily distracted father behind the throne will not give up power without a fight.

Benzaqueen and screenwriter Daive Cohen go for humor based on the ironic juxtaposition of modern attitudes with storybook tropes—sort of like Shrek and Shelley Duval’s Fairy Tale Theater, but with somewhat more ribald and scatological seasoning. It is hard not to get the broad comedy, but the obvious dubbing job makes it all sound unfortunately cheesy. Frankly, anime is probably the only genre who can get away with dubbing, because there is a large pool of specialists who really understand the franchises and conventions.

As Aladdin and Sam, Kev Adams can clearly take a pratfall, but that doesn’t mean he always should. Similarly, Jean-Paul Rouve seems to be playing to the back row of a Nineteenth Century vaudeville hall as the Vizier. Vanessa Guide certainly looks the part of the princess and more less manages to carry herself with dignity. Of course, Eric Judor is almost required by law to get shticky as the genie, but at least he makes the case for democracy and low taxation. Too bad the citizens of Baghdad are not listening.

On the plus side, the special effects are considerable better than necessary for a film like this. The flying carpets look surprisingly credible and the tomb-raiding sequences are kind of cool. Basically, this is dumb but harmless film. You might consider it if you are looking for a spoof film with an intelligence level somewhere in between the happily tasteless Zucker, Abrams, and Zucker originals and the utterly moronic Friedberg-Seltzer “Blank Movie” braincell-killers, now that The New Adventures of Aladdin is available on VOD platforms, including iTunes.