I don’t have much to say about this movie. The Return of Jafar was not released by Disney Animation Studios, but instead DisneyToon Studios (actually at the time it was called Disney Movietoons). This Studio is responsible for direct to video movies/sequels. Their first movie was the Ducktales movie (oh geez, remember that one!?), and now they are the ones doing all those Tinkerbell movies… yeah.
Return of Jafar was their first direct to movie sequel of a Disney canon movie. It’s actually the first three episodes of the tv show Aladdin that ran on the Disney Channel from ’94 to ’95. It was originally just going to air on TV, but after the success of the movie, they released it on video. Yes, that’s right. You can blame this movie for all those horrible horrible direct to movie sequels that ruin your memories of the original Disney movies.
As you can probably tell, I’m not a huge fan of these sequels. I’ve seen probably way too many of them, and most, if not all, are worse than the movies they’re based upon. That being said, there are a few that somehow manage to be better or at least similar in quality to their predecessors. I own three. Of those three, 2 I actually like probably more than I should. Then there’s this one.
You can tell this movie was supposed to be on tv. Not only is the Animation completely awful (more so than any other sequels), but it’s just a quick 69 minutes. This movie exists for one purpose only: to take the character of Iago and explain why in the TV show he hangs out with Aladdin. Essentially, this movie exists to explain why Iago is good.
Here’s the plot: Aladdin and Jasmin are getting ready for their wedding (wait, didn’t that happen at the end of the last movie? ohhhh plot holes!) and Iago somehow gets out of the genie lamp that has trapped Jafar. He’s pissed at Jafar and instead of letting him out, drops him in a well. Iago heads to Agrabah, convinced he’s going to take over. However when he’s in the market, he inadvertently saves Aladdin’s life from a thief named Abi Small (haha – his actual name is Abis Mal. I don’t care. I’m calling him what I always did as a kid). Suddenly, Aladdin feels like he owes the bird. Ready to take it and milk it for all its worth, Iago explains that he was just a pawn in all of Jafar’s dealings in the past. Aladdin buys it, takes him to the palace where, of course, no one believes him. Jasmine gets mad at Aladdin for even thinking Iago could be good. Oh yes, and the Genie returns.
Meanwhile, Abi Small comes across the lamp and lets the Jafar Genie out. They head back to Agrabah – Abi small wants vengeance just as much as Jafar does.
The Genie and Iago help Aladdin and Jasmine get back together. Iago begins to question what he believes because Aladdin stood up for him, and no one’s ever done something like that for him before. Jafar shows up and tries to get him back on his side. There’s some stuff that happens (this is typically when I stop paying attention) but at the end Iago ends up destroying the lamp that has Jafar in it, destroying him as well.
That plot may or may not be exactly what happens, because like I said, I kinda stop paying attention about halfway through. It’s not my fault. it’s the movie’s.
Do the characters seem similar to the first one and do they maintain their personalities? HAHA. Actually, these versions are more like caricatures of their originals. Aladdin still does bad boy things even though he now lives a cushy life (really, he wasn’t into stealing before, and now suddenly he is?). Ok… I can see because at the beginning he steals gold away from Abi Small and ends up giving it to the people, but that wasn’t what made Aladdin interesting. In this movie (as well as the TV show) that’s his one trick. He’s a quick talking robin-hood type character. I don’t know that that’s really Aladdin. I’m not saying he wouldn’t become a robin-hood type, but at the same time, now that he’s in power, he could do things on the inside to help those outside. I dunno. He’s not the same to me.
Neither is Jasmine. Suddenly she has absolutely NO personality. She’s not argumentative, she’s not standing up for herself. NOTHING. She’s just there. Sure she gets mad at Aladdin for bringing Iago to the palace, which is quite understandable, but then forgives him in two seconds after a song just because she forgot what it was like to be in love with him? (on a side note: I actually adore the song Iago sings to get them back together, but the whole idea of it is stupid)
Our side characters are also kinda just… there. All I have to say about the Genie in this movie is that it’s Dan Castellaneta trying to do his best Robin Williams impression. He’s also just a caricature of the Genie in the movie (for better or worse). There’s no depth to him anymore, and he really is just a stupid comic relief. In all honesty this movie would have been better if he wasn’t here. There’s really no point to him.
Jafar, as a returning villain, is also very “meh.” He was such a great villain in the first movie, that he should have been so cool as a genie. He tries, but it’s just not there. Same with Abi Small (who actually ends up as an antagonist of the tv show).
In fact, the only character in this movie that is actually worth watching this for is Iago. As much as it pains me to say this, he is the only character who grows and changes in this movie. You can actually tell he’s having trouble coming to terms with what to do and who to listen to. In the end he redeems himself, because he actually knows what it’s like to have someone care about him. Is it a great, well done character arc? It’s an interesting one, and not horribly done, but it’s not great either. Like the rest of this movie, it’s “meh.”
Let’s move to songs. There are somehow seemingly 10 bajillion songs in this 69 minutes. Most of them are so incredibly forgettable, but I do like a few of them. I actually own the song “Forget about love,” that Iago sings. It’s funny and sarcastic and hilarious. I also enjoy the song “second rate” which is a Jafar song. They’re not good at all in terms of classic disney songs, of course, but they’re enjoyable.
This movie, on the whole, is forgettable. I own it simply because of nostalgia, and somehow my 9 year old self thought this movie held up well. Nostalgia goggles off – this movie isn’t great. It’s not horribly bad, but it is bad. Aladdin shouldn’t have had a sequel, simply put.
I give Return of Jafar (1994) a 2 out of 5. Not ranking it in my canon list, btw.
Up Next: The Lion King (1994)