Aladdin 2: The Return of Jafar (1994) — Really, it’s the Return of Gilbert Gottfried

“You will wish you had never been born.”

Justin’s rating: Let’s face it, that monkey pooped all over the magic carpet. Like ALL over it.

Justin’s review: It’s strange to consider that before 1994, Disney hadn’t released any direct-to-video sequels of its hit animated movies. But suddenly the studio was in the middle of the best streak of animated movies it ever had, and there was this pressure to keep producing — and keep earning. Disney had enforced a clear delineation between its theatrical efforts and its TV cartoon spin-offs, but the introduction of an Aladdin series led to the Mouse House taking a gamble on creating and marketing a a direct-to-video sequel as a bridge.

Considering that Aladdin 2: The Return of Jafar ended up making over $300 million on a $5 million budget, it was like hitting a jackpot — and firing a starting pistol of an endless stream of cheaply produced sequels. I’m not really interested in reviewing most of those, but I thought it’d be worth my time to peek at the one that started this trend.

Despite becoming a bonafide prince with a steady girlfriend and a magic carpet on the side, Aladdin continues to steal (only from bad guys, mind you!) on the side. Meanwhile, Iago (voiced by Gilbert Gottfried) escapes Jafar’s lamp and spends the bulk of the film trying to convince all of the good guys to forgive him.

Basically what we have here is an hour-and-a-half narrative chess game to set up the TV series so that Iago would be part of the main cast. Considering that he wasn’t anywhere near the draw of the Genie, I can’t imagine that kids were super-delighted to hear Gottfried screeching at them for most of this flick.

Speaking of the hyperactive Genie, Robin Williams famously had a fallout with Disney over the way he was treated for Aladdin, so he didn’t come back for the sequel. Instead, they roped in Homer Simpson himself, Dan Castellaneta, to fill in. He’s decent — I mean, of course he is — but Williams’ absence is missed nevertheless. I can’t help but think if they had actually gotten Robin Williams to return, Return of Jafar would have become more of a ’90s cartoon staple.

Obscene profits aside, Aladdin 2 is pretty much a TV special packaged and sold a tier above its pay grade. The animation isn’t anywhere near as good as the movie, the songs are incredibly lame, and the story is about as dull as a story about the redemption of a parrot could be. It bored me, and I imagine it would bore pretty much anyone of any age bracket.

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