If a magical genie granted you three wishes, what would you wish for? Come on. You know you've thought about it. We would personally wish for 1) world peace, 2) unlimited kittens, and 3) another genie. Hey, the Genie says you can't wish for more wishes, but he never says you can't wish for more genies. We think we found the lamp loophole.
The original script for the movie called for the master of the lamp to received unlimited wishes. Pretty sweet. But the screenwriters decided to change it back to a more traditional three wishes to raise the stakes a bit:
GENIE: What would you wish of me? The ever impressive, the long contained, often imitated, but never duplicated […] Genie of the Lamp! Right here direct from the lamp, right here for your very much wish fulfillment. Thank you!
ALADDIN: Whoa! Wish fulfillment?
GENIE: Three wishes to be exact. And ix-nay on the wishing for more wishes. That's it. Three. Uno, dos, tres.
Okay, but here's the big question: why does Aladdin get exactly three wishes? Why not one? Or five? Or 20? Or 57? In some ways, three is kind of a random number. But it works as storytelling device because of something called the rule of three.
This is the idea that the number three is inherent funnier or more satisfying or more effective than other numbers. Ever notice how it's always three guys who walk into a bar (a priest, a rabbi, and an imam)? Or consider other famous phrases, like "Lights, camera, action!" or "Ready, aim, fire!" or "Reading, 'riting, 'rithmetic." Would those be as memorable if they were two words? Or four? Or ten? Nope. It's three that makes them great.
The same is true of three wishes. One wish would put too much pressure on Aladdin to get it right the first time. Four (or more) wishes would give him way too many chances to screw up. Three wishes gives him one big meaningful wish (to be made into a prince), one throwaway wish (to be saved from drowning), and one final wish to tie up the whole story (to free the Genie).
Sure, he misses the chance to get unlimited kittens, but all in all, we'd say Aladdin manages to use his three wishes pretty wisely.