Will Smith is big, blue and full of that Fresh Prince swagger as his Genie warps, distorts, and conjures majestic visions in the Cave of Wonders to wow Aladdin in the iconic “Friend Like Me” musical sequence shown to audiences at CinemaCon.
In a new clip from the upcoming Aladdin live-action remake directed by Guy Ritchie, Aladdin rubs the oil lamp in the cave and is taken aback by the larger-than-life mythical being that emerges from the spout in a cloud of blue smoke, with a booming voice that informs him that he has three wishes. But the Genie — and Smith — never can stay serious for too long, as he kicks into a song-and-dance number for “Friend Like Me,” while making Aladdin’s pet monkey Abu play the drums. Conjuring up a fancy dining room, he sings to Aladdin, “Life is your restaurant and I’m your mâitre d’, come whisper to me whatever you want, you ain’t never had a friend like me.”
“Can your friends do this?” the Genie croons as he beatboxes and pulls lavish outfits and platters of delicious delicacies out of thin air, promising Aladdin any life he dreams of. Genie then attaches Aladdin to puppet strings and makes him dance, showing off his own moves alongside him as the musical number ends with fireworks, dancers, and animals conjured in the Cave of Wonders before disappearing in a cloud of smoke.
There has been a lot of debate about Smith’s Genie, which has split Aladdin fans so far, but with more new scenes being shown ahead of the film’s release on May 24, it’s becoming clear that Smith is bringing his own style and humor to the role.
“Friend Like Me” is the first song that Smith said he recorded for the movie before he had even formally signed on to play the role made famous by Robin Williams in the 1992 animated classic. His unique take on the song convinced everyone that he could step into the giant shoes left by Williams, who died in 2014.
“Robin Williams infused the character with a timeless version of himself, so I said to myself, ‘What if I just infuse the character with a timeless version of myself?'” Smith told EW back in December for the magazine’s exclusive first look at the live-action film. “I started to feel confident that I could deliver something that was an homage to Robin Williams but was musically different and just the flavor of the character would be different enough and unique enough that it would be in a different lane versus trying to compete,” he added.
Aladdin also stars Mena Massoud in the titular role of the beloved street rat and Naomi Scott as the empowered Princess Jasmine. Disney did not bring the stars of the film to the Las Vegas CinemaCon gathering or release the clip shown to audiences publicly, but Disney executive Sean Bailey did reveal that one of the new songs in the film, a solo song for Jasmine, will be called “Speechless.” Scott previously told EW that the song is about Jasmine finding her voice and “not being shut down but being able to speak out.”