1 The Mickey Mindset: Celebrating Robin Williams

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Celebrating Robin Williams

Ryan Dosier - As I sit here watching Aladdin for what must be the hundredth time, I find myself, once again, legitimately stunned speechless by the immense talent of Robin Williams. A singular, irreplaceable entity of a man, a warlock of comedy whose instinct is unmatched, and a force of nature if ever there was one, Robin Williams seemed to light up any production he was in, perhaps none more so than Aladdin. It's hard to imagine the Genie without Robin Williams' voice, because his manic energy, his rampant enthusiasm, and his unstoppable wit inject the movie with glorious light and wonder.

But what Robin Williams brought to Aladdin, and what he brought to almost all of the characters he gave life to, was an amazing sense of heart. The Genie's quieter moments of compassion for Aladdin are some of the finest scenes in the film. Watching the Genie as a kid, I felt like I was getting away with something. There was no way something this fun could be for kids, right? And that, more than anything, is what Robin Williams gave to me as a viewer--a sense that he was too good for me. How could it be legal to witness someone so unendingly funny and so deliriously smart?

With his incredible performances, Robin Williams could do and say anything, be anyone, and run the gamut of all emotions. Again, one need only turn to Aladdin to see Robin do some of his finest work. Watching the film, it feels like animation is where Robin truly felt the most free. Only on the stand-up stage did Robin ever match the maniacal genius energy he oozes throughout Aladdin. And yet, as impressive and all-encompassing as Robin's work in the film is, his performance is so intimate. Every wink to popular culture, every look to the "camera," every snappy aside that Robin delivers as the Genie feels like it's just for you. By catching it, you develop a sense of personal connection to Robin... like he's doing this just for you.

I'm sure this post is rambling, but trying to capture my emotions is proving more difficult than I expected. Robin Williams means so much to me as a performer, a comedian, and a man. Losing the light he brought to this world brings sadness to me and millions of others... knowing he extinguished that light himself is impossibly devastating. Though his contributions to the Disney pantheon are relegated to a handful of films, Robin Williams' major influence on Aladdin, Disney, film, voice acting, comedy, myself, and the world far exceed anything I could capture in writing. Robin Williams is pure, unrestrained magic caught on film for us to enjoy for boundless years to come. He is a shining treasure, a diamond in the rough, and we'll never have a friend like him again. You're free now, Genie.

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