On Wednesday, Entertainment Weekly published a first look at the live-action Aladdin movie coming in 2019, and the internet fell apart over Will Smith’s Genie look. With one big hoop earring, wrist bangles for days, and a large topknot ponytail in the middle of his shaven head, it’s Smith, and the Genie, like we’ve never seen them before—and fans are not buying it. But while the trolling parades on with no end in sight, let's pause and consider some important logistical questions here.
How exactly did this up-do come to be? Maybe Smith shaved his head, grew out some of it and put a ponytail weave in to make it look like it's coming directly out the top of his head. Maybe he glued on the hair (which by the way defies categorization because it's not quite a dreadlock and not quite a braid). Is he wearing a nude head cap with the hair attached? How is it staying put with a long, heavy-looking mass of hair and gold/metallic hair tie? Sure, CGI-enhanced live action can make animals look like they’re talking. But is Disney telling us the magic extends to gravity-defying hair physics, too? Also, if he went this hard on recreating the animated character's hairstyle, what happened to the beard? We need to see the Genie's classic thin beard perfectly curly-q into a cartoonish spiral that keeps its shape for the whole movie if you're going to raise our standards like this.
I can practically hear the actor's voice in the photo of him laying down some wisdom for young Aladdin. His very 90s Smith facial expression is giving me Fresh Prince-dishing-out-advice-about high-school-romance vibes: Listen my mans, you’re not going to find another girl like her in a million years. In all fairness, if you look at the cartoon genie from Disney’s original Aladdin from 1992, tilt your head, squint, and try to forget Robin Williams' iconic, boisterous voiceover, the cartoon’s one hoop earring and crisp goatee are actually kind of swaggy. Perhaps there is room for Smith to bring some new personality to the role.
On paper it all makes sense. Smith as the Genie pivots nicely off of his public persona these days. Fans have taken to making compilation videos of his mini motivational speeches in interviews, and he’s leaned into the advice-giving on his popular social media channels. Plus who can forget his best matchmaking role to date in Hitch? He may not have granted my wish for a (more feminist) Hitch sequel, but maybe this new quirky role can fill that void in some odd way.
It certainly has the potential to work out fine. But man, oh man, does Smith have an online mob to prove wrong when footage rolls out in 2019. And maybe more camera angles and a close-up or two will reveal the mysteries behind this befuddling hairdo.
Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.
Follow Taylor Hosking on Twitter.