“Aladdin” is not just about the titular street thief with the heart of gold (Mena Massoud) or the beautiful, strong-willed Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott). Or even the big, blue fast-talking Genie (Will Smith).
There’s a whole cadre of underpraised characters to love in Disney’s live-action retelling of the 1992 animated classic, which soared at the box office this weekend with more than $207 million worldwide.
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They aren’t getting top billing, but they are stealing scenes. And in the case of one capuchin monkey, stealing a magic lamp, a bracelet, a big red jewel … We could go on.
Here are five standouts:
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Abu the capuchin monkey will also purloin your heart.
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You can’t help but to notice Aladdin’s capuchin sidekick Abu is a star, just starting with those deeply expressive eyes. Yet the monkey is an entirely computer-generated creation who plays drums, comically sticks dates under his hat or, his best moment, lays down and scratches his belly.
Abu, orphaned Aladdin’s only “parental figure,” slaps the thief’s hand when he thinks about stealing a forbidden jewel and even recovers the Genie lamp in a key moment.
It points to the sad state of primate Hollywood agents that this film is titled “Aladdin” when it should so clearly be called “Aladdin and Abu.” Did someone say capuchin spinoff?
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Dalia is a rarer find than exquisite yak-hair napkins.
Princess Jasmine needed a human best friend in the “Aladdin” remake. Enter Dalia (Nasim Pedrad from “Saturday Night Live”), the quirky handmaiden with star quality. Just ask Genie, who is clearly smitten.
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Dalia had us with random moments such as lamenting over the difficulties of finding yak-hair napkins or mentioning being gifted a goat. But the best bit is when Jasmine compels Dalia to pretend to be the princess and the handmaiden has no earthy idea what royalty really does. “I have to go clean my cat now,” Dalia deadpans gloriously.
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Prince Anders rules as the biggest royal buffoon.
No royal story is complete without a buffoonish blue blood to remind us the utter stupidity of the noble birth concept. Step up Prince Anders (Billy Magnussen), the suitor from Skånland, the only guy in the room who doesn’t know how badly he’s blowing his big meeting to court Princess Jasmine.
Rajah is the bodyguard every princess should have.
Whitney Houston would have fired Kevin Costner in a heartbeat if she could have made “The Bodyguard” with Rajah the tiger, Princess Jasmine’s “Aladdin” animal bestie and protector.
Jasmine’s entrance to the court is all the more amazing based on Rajah’s supporting-tiger power walk behind her. Perfect for putting fear in lame suitors (the aforementioned Prince Anders), but showing a soft side with a big tiger lick for Aladdin. Tigers are the best judge of character.
Iago the parrot walks the squawk of the original.
It’s a tough gig following up Gilbert Gottfried’s wisecracking Iago from the original animated film (who disguises himself as a flamingo in one scene). The new CG Iago, still the loyal sidekick of the evil Jafar, behaves like a real bird, croaking short bursts of parrot-esque dialogue. It’s an impressive mimicking feat by voice actor Alan Tudyk, who earns his laughs the hard way, squawking out lines like “This will be fun” when Jafar earns greater superpowers.
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