James Corden has gotten to do a lot of amazing things as host of The Late Late Show over the past five years. But playing Aladdin in “Crosswalk the Musical” is not one of them. Despite Corden’s best efforts during Thursday night’s (May 23) latest edition of the honk-inducing public display of musical theater, James was forced to take a back seat to one of the movie reboot’s actual stars: Will Smith.
The bit began with Corden dressed in blue face as the Genie, ready to storm the street — after he assured the cast that they were not doing Avatar, Blue Man Group or The Smurfs — with the movie’s co-stars Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott, the actual Aladdin and Jasmine. And then Smith showed up. “I’m the Genie, man, you can’t do Aladdin without the Genie,” the twice Oscar-nominated actor assured the late night host.
“James, listen I understand how you’re feeling. I’mma keep it real, you are more like Abu,” Smith said of the movie’s comic relief primate. “I’m not playing a monkey! I don’t care what you say. I don’t care if you say it’s me. I don’t care if you shut the whole thing down,” Corden seethed. Smash cut to James wearing a very ridiculous monkey outfit and trying to act like it is a theatrical honor on par with Hamlet and Death of a Salesman‘s Willy Loman. (It is not.)
The cast set, Corden reminded them of one crucial piece of advice. “Before we get out there on this magic carpet ride I just wanted to remind everybody that ‘Don’t you dare close your eyes’ is not just a wonderful lyric. It could also save your life. The traffic is real and it’s dangerous.” And then they hit Beverly Boulevard for a pyro-fueled version of “Friend Like Me” that ended with the cast heaping praise on Smith’s performance, much to Corden’s chagrin.
“Prince Ali” was no less elaborate, with dozens of extras, fake elephants, golden thrones and some very annoyed drivers. After a pep talk from Smith for the line-less Corden — “I haven’t got any lines… I’m just a stupid, naughty monkey” — they brought the whole thing home with a dazzling “A Whole New World” that featured the cast on a forklift-assisted magic carpet ride. Aladdin opens in theaters today (May 24).
Watch “Crosswalk the Musical: Aladdin” below.