HK and Cult Film News's Fan Box

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


If you're going to retell an old story in a fresh and funny way, you could do a lot worse than THE NEW ADVENTURES OF ALADDIN (2015). 

This breezy comedy retains only the bare bones of the familiar tale and fleshes them out with a fast-moving series of verbal and visual gags that hit the target more often than not and never let up.

Two homeless brothers, Sam (Kev Adams) and Khalid (William Lebghil), have gotten jobs as department store Santas so they can steal as much as they can from the place during the busy Christmas rush.

But when Sam gets stuck entertaining a bunch of kids while their parents are shopping, the impromptu tale he spins for them becomes a grand adventure with him as Aladdin and his well-to-do girlfriend Shallia (Vanessa Guide), who thinks he's a stockbroker, as the lonely princess being forced to marry the evil Vizir (Jean-Paul Rouve).

Naturally, Sam/Aladdin ends up finding the magic lamp after a nifty RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK-style foray into a booby-trapped castle and meets the excitable genie (Eric Judor). Meanwhile, through a series of twisted circumstances, Khalid has been enlisted to impersonate the Vizir's nephew and try to win the princess' hand in marriage.  Things get more complicated when the princess falls madly in love with Sam, now posing as a wealthy prince from out of town. 

Any attempt to recap the story sounds pretty stodgy compared to the light and delightfully funny way that it all plays out.  The gags come fast and furious, with a surprising blend of raucous slapstick and the kind of stimulating verbal humor found in such films as MONTY PYTHON'S LIFE OF BRIAN.

Sam and Khalid make a likable comedy duo and the rest of the cast range from deadpan (the grimly sinister Vizir) all the way to flat-out farcical (the neurotic genie). Audrey Lamy has a pleasing Andrea Martin quality about her as Shallia's maid Rababa.  Performances are generally spot-on, right down to the bit players.

The film is filled with amusing throwaway gags, as when a guard catches the Vizir talking to himself every time he goes into an expository monologue.  Since it's Sam's story, his Aladdin suddenly displays amazing fighting skills when he needs them, while naturally being irresistible to the princess.

In addition to a healthy dose of creative slapstick throughout are several satirical jabs at movies such as STAR WARS, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and LORD OF THE RINGS.  (Look for an amusing cameo by Snow White.) One scene even manages to feature a comical beheading thanks to someone's ill-advised nitpick of the Vizir's grammar.

SPFX are nicely done and at times impressive, particularly the flying carpet effects which are helped by some panoramic CGI shots of ancient Baghdad.  The production values in general are consistently lavish and colorful.  In his feature debut, Arthur Benzaquen's direction is brisk and creative and displays a keen sense of off-the-wall comedy. 

French-to-English dubbing is pretty good so I had no problem with it.  (The film will also be available in a French language version with English subtitles.)  Some of the jokes are a bit on the crude side, so parents might want to watch first and judge its suitability for their kids.

A return to the present day wraps things up with a "And you were there, too!" conclusion that adroitly avoids being sappy while still delivering a mildly emotional lift.  (And reminding us that, after all, this is nominally a Christmas story.)  All in all, I found the cartoonishly fanciful THE NEW ADVENTURES OF ALADDIN to be a laugh-out-loud comedy romp that's brimming with fun.

Opening on VOD Nationwide on Tuesday, May 16 on all major platforms including:
iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, Microsoft, Vudu, Comcast, Charter, Cox, Verizon, Vimeo, and various other cable operators.


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