Awfully Good: Aladdin: The Return of Jafar

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

Here's another ALADDIN movie that's just as unnecessary as the live-action remake…


Aladdin: The Return of Jafar (1994)


Director: Tad Stones, Alan Zaslove
Stars: Scott Weinger, Gilbert Gottfried, Dan Castellaneta

Walt Disney slowly shaking his head in disapproval.

I honestly forgot this movie existed until someone wrote in to suggest it. Which is really not that surprising considering what an afterthought ALADDIN 2: THE RETURN OF JAFAR clearly was for Disney. Cheap and unnecessary sequels have not been a rare occurrence for the Mouse House over the years, but this 1994 film was the studio’s first time cashing in with a direct-to-video follow-up and I distinctly remember how jarring and disappointing it was as a child.

Okay, so the animation is a little rough…

In case rushing it to release a year and a half after the first film didn't make it obvious, Disney put almost zero thought or effort in to THE RETURN OF JAFAR. It has the exact same villain as the previous movie, only this time Jafar is less powerful as a genie who literally can't do anything unless he gets someone else to wish for it. And at barely an hour long, there's not much time for any surprises, let alone an interesting story. Aladdin is still a thief for some reason, even though he ended the first movie a prince. His entire role in the sequel is deciding whether or not he wants a cushy gig as the Sultan's advisor. Instead, the movie oddly focuses on Iago the parrot as a main character, spending most of the precious running time on his redemption story.

Maybe a lot rough…

It doesn't help that the animation is just truly, truly awful. Not only did Disney have their TV division crank this out, giving it a Saturday morning cartoon vibe, but they switched animation companies halfway through production, resulting in noticeable inconsistencies in quality. Watch the first scene in the Best Parts video below where Genie accidentally cuts off his hand. When he goes to talk to the Sultan afterward, the king's eyebrows disappear and reappear multiple times in the same shot. The movie is full of things like that—characters that just look off, stationary objects that visibly move during scenes, people and things that seemingly teleport across the screen—visuals that feel both lazy and low-budget, especially following a movie that made half a billion dollars in 1992. I can't imagine what it would be like if you were to watch both films back-to-back. I mean, just look at what they did to poor Magic Carpet:

Alright, well, that's just lazy…

There are other noticeable deficiencies, like the songs coming across as rejected demos from the first film. (I love Gilbert Gottfried, but why they gave someone with his trademark voice multiple solo songs, I will never understand.) However, the biggest ding against the movie is the lack of Robin Williams. It's not that the comic actor wasn't willing to do it (he ultimately returned for the next ALADDIN sequel, THE KING OF THIEVES), but Disney was just too cheap to pay Williams money he was owed for merchandising from the first film. No disrespect to SIMPSONS vet Dan Castellaneta, who does his best taking over for Genie, but I think everyone would agree that Williams was the magic ingredient that made the first ALADDIN so memorable.

Also, remember the big triumphant moment at the end of the first film where Genie is finally free and leaves to explore the world he never got to see? Just kidding! Genie immediately returns, now back in his slave cuffs once again, saying he missed his friends too much to stay away. That's depressing, even for a fictional, magical character. 

So they forgot to draw a face. We've all been there…

The only real memorable part of this movie is how surprisingly harsh the death of Jafar is at the end. Iago finally redeems himself by pushing his former master's genie lamp in to a conveniently-placed pit of lava, causing Jafar to somehow be both burned alive AND electrocuted. I remember the villain's horrible death screams being more horrifying when I was a kid, which is actually true as the scene was apparently so scarring for children that Disney had it edited down for all subsequent rereleases. (If you want, you can watch the original scene here.)


THE RETURN OF JAFAR has made over $300 million since it's release, so you only have yourself to blame for all the shitty sequels that followed, as well as the modern equivalent live-action remakes. Hell, at the rate Disney is going, you'll probably see a live-action RETURN OF JAFAR in five years.

This is why we can't have nice things.   

No, but the priest from THE LITTLE MERMAID would like to have a word with you.

Use your wishes wisely! Buy this movie here!

Take a shot or drink every time:

  • Genie does a racist accent
  • Genie references a different Disney character
  • The animation is clearly screwed up
  • You have disturbing feelings for Jasmine

Double shot if:

  • Someone says, "You'd be surprised what you can live through"


Thanks to Marti for suggesting this week's movie!


Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email or follow him on Twitter and give him an excuse to drink.


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