NEW YORK (WABC) -- Disney's "Aladdin" returns to the big screen 27 years after the beloved animated movie charmed a generation of kids and their parents. That is a very tough act to follow.
Will Smith is not going to make you forget the late Robin Williams as the original genie, but he is very entertaining -- and reason enough to see the new live-action version of "Aladdin" with Mena Massoud in the title role. He's a thief in Agrabah where he meets Princess Jasmine, played by Naomi Scott.
She gets the best new song, "Speechless," but both have to work hard to avoid being blown off the screen by Smith, who is, after all, one of the biggest stars in the world! Smith, as The Genie, grants him three wishes, so Aladdin first asks to become a prince to better woo his princess. An over-the-top production number soon follows, with the genie singing, "Prince Ali, mighty as he, Ali Ababwa."
Action director Guy Ritchie, who was once married to Madonna, is the improbable choice to direct this musical. In his hands, the magic carpet ride becomes a dark adventure to "a whole new world."
To help me review this movie, I enlisted a mom from New Jersey, Tara Iglay, and her daughters. Fourteen-year-old Audrey Iglay said it was "awesome," "funny" and "put together well," but "it's definitely better for younger kids." Her sister, 11-year-old Seton, calls "Aladdin" "one of the best movies" she's ever seen and plans to go see it again with her friends.
Call it a "crowd pleaser" that will be number one at the box office by a wide margin this Memorial Day weekend. "Aladdin" falls short of the magical original, and I prefer the stage musical still on Broadway, but Will Smith makes this new movie worth the price of admission.
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Why you should see Disney's new "Aladdin"