Disney's low-budget sequel to finely crafted, wildly popular ALADDIN (1992), THE RETURN OF JAFAR is the first made-for-video animated film from a major studio, bypassing television broadcast, cable, and theatrical release. Older fans of ALADDIN will no doubt be disappointed by the
absence here of so many of the elements that made that film popular--its sweeping story, elaborate production design, lively songs, and Robin Williams' frenetic, witty performance as the genie--although younger viewers may nevertheless be delighted.
As the robber gang of Abis Mal (Jason Alexander) divides its treasure in a ruined temple, they're interrupted by Aladdin (Scott Weinger) and his monkey, Abu, who steal the loot and escape on a magic carpet, distributing the proceeds to the poor in the city of Agraba. Meanwhile, in the desert, the
parrot Iago (Gilbert Gottfried) frees himself from the genie's magic lamp, leaving the wizard Jafar (Jonathan Freeman) imprisoned inside. In Agraba, Iago encounters Aladdin; after he helps Aladdin fight off some of Abis Mal's henchmen, Aladdin agrees to take Iago back to the palace. Aladdin hides
Iago, who had disgraced himself in the first film, to avoid the wrath of the Sultan and his daughter, Aladdin's fiancee Jasmine (Linda Larkin). As everyone is preparing for dinner, the genie (Dan Castellaneta) returns from a world trip and sings of his travels.
In the desert, Abis Mal finds the lamp and releases Jafar, who has retained the powers of the genie. Abis is granted three wishes: his first wish, for the riches from a famed sunken vessel, lands him under water, while his second wish gets him back to the surface. He wisely holds the third wish
in reserve and plots with Jafar to get revenge on Aladdin. Back at the palace, Iago is discovered by the Sultan and Jasmine, who are both angry with Aladdin for hiding the duplicitous parrot. When Iago sings to Jasmine, she relents and makes up with her fiance.
Abis Mal sneaks into the palace by night and releases Jafar, who intimidates Iago into helping his revenge plot. Iago encourages Aladdin and the Sultan to take a magic carpet trip out of town. Once they're gone, Jafar overpowers the genie and imprisons him with Abu, while Aladdin, after a wild
chase involving horsemen, rapids, and waterfall, is captured by Abis Mal and his men. Aladdin, the Sultan, and even the Magic Carpet are taken to the dungeon.
Jafar, magically taking the form of Jasmine, who is now also imprisoned, accuses Aladdin of murdering her father and he's sentenced to death. As Aladdin is taken to the chopping block, Iago manages to break the glass ball imprisoning the genie, who flies out and frees the others. He saves
Aladdin, who insists they stay and fight Jafar. After a colorful battle, during which the wizard and the lamp are destroyed in a pool of lava, Aladdin and Jasmine plan a honeymoon trip to see the world--to the dismay of Iago, who simply wants to live in luxury in the palace.
The animation in this sequel, executed by Disney subsidiaries in Australia and Japan, is actually quite good, and the production design, while not as lavish as that in the original film, is always eye-catching. The story is simple and never very suspenseful; the songs are adequate but
unmemorable. The relatively intricate relationships in ALADDIN are dispensed with in order to focus on Iago, who, as voiced by Gilbert Gottfried, delivers a stream of wisecracks and Borscht Belt patter that enlivens the proceedings and overshadows the other performers.
Kids will enjoy the frantic action, while adults will appreciate some of the throwaway pop references, such as a quick flash of Mrs. Bates from Alfred Hitchcock's PSYCHO in Jafar's musical number.
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- Released: 1994
- Rating: G
- Review: Disney's low-budget sequel to finely crafted, wildly popular ALADDIN (1992), THE RETURN OF JAFAR is the first made-for-video animated film from a major studio, bypassing television broadcast, cable, and theatrical release. Older fans of ALADDIN will no dou… (more)