(The Walt Disney Pictures logo is shown, before showing footage from various Disney sequels that were released direct-to-video/DVD)
Doug (vo): Well, every Disneycember, we try to look at the best that Disney has to offer. This year, we're gonna go the opposite route. If you're younger, you might have noticed all these sequels that seem to pop up to popular Disney films that don't really seem to be as good. This is because as hand-drawn films were starting to phase out and CG films were starting to phase in, Disney didn't always have a lot to do for their hand-drawn department, at least, nothing that made them much a profit. However, that seemed to change, though not necessarily for the best, with the direct-to-DVD sequels. For whatever reason, kids just loved to see what was gonna happen next in these movies that really didn't need any continuing stories. And they got a reputation pretty fast of being the worst. You name it. Lion King, Aladdin, Pocahontas, even The Hunchback of Notre Dame got a sequel. As they seemed to make more and more money, they pushed them up faster and faster, and...well, they have a reputation for being some of Disney's worst material in recent years. For a long time, people have been asking me to look these over and, by God, I didn't want to. But you know what? I'm an optimist. And I'm gonna hold out that there's at least one, just one, good sequel out there. Is it a fool's wish? Maybe. But I'm determined to get through all of them to see if they're as bad as everybody says they are. I get a feeling they're right, but I should judge for myself. Even though there's surprisingly enough films to almost fill the entire month, there's still one or two that I have available yet. So I'll fill those in with not sequels, but still direct-to-DVD movies that they made. Is there somewhere a diamond in the rough to be found? Well, all through the month of December, I'm gonna find out. Because you demanded it, this is Disneycember: Direct-to-DVD Sequels. (Sighs) I hope you appreciate what I do for you.
(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing a video cassette of The Fox and the Hound and the pamphlet inside)
Doug (vo): So let's go to where this all started. I remember I got the VHS of Fox and the Hound, and as soon as you opened it up, there was a little pamphlet that said "one of the greatest villains was coming back". You open it up and you saw Disney's The Return of Jafar. Holy smokes. To a little kid, this was amazing. Aladdin was one of the biggest films that ever came out at that time, and Disney never really did any sequels apart from The Rescuers Down Under. So we were beyond excited to see another Aladdin movie on the big screen. As more time went by, though, we realized it wasn't going to be on the big screen, it was going to be direct-to-VHS. Well, okay. It was still an Aladdin sequel, and it was done by Disney. It still has to be pretty good, right?
(Now we are shown footage of The Return of Jafar)
Doug (vo): Well, then we saw the trailer for it and...man, there was a serious downgrade. It was pretty obvious from the first frame what this was. This was Disney trying to cash in on a popular movie, which they've done before, but not usually with a sequel, and not usually with such a difference in animation. So, yeah, the hype died down pretty quickly, but we were still kind of interested in seeing it. After all, it was Aladdin, and we wanted to know what evil scheme Jafar had up his sleeve.
Doug (vo): The film centers around Aladdin getting used to his new palace life...and apparently still unable to put on a shirt...when Iago the parrot escapes from Jafar's lamp and tosses it away, trying to convince Aladdin and the gang that he's changed for good, even though he really just wants a new position in power. On top of that, the Genie returns, too...eh, sort of. Robin Williams didn't come back to voice him this time, and it really shows. They got Dan Castellaneta, the voice of Homer Simpson, to do him instead, and to be fair, he's not a bad choice. He can do a really good impression. But so much of the Genie was just Robin Williams doing his improv, and nobody's as good as him. So immediately, it's a little distracting. But Jafar returns as well, as a thief, played by Jason Alexander, accidentally releases him, and Jafar as the genie promises to grant him his wishes if he follows through with his revenge. So Jafar plans his evil scheme by framing Aladdin, making it look like he killed the Sultan, all while locking up everybody else away.
Doug (vo): The plot in general is not that bad, and to its credit, Jafar's revenge is actually a pretty good one. But nothing feels as fleshed out as the original. In fact, Aladdin doesn't even seem like the focus. It feels more like the focus is on Iago. He's the one that has the story arc, he's the one that's torn between two places. But in terms of what made the original Aladdin so enjoyable and continuing it here, a lot of it just doesn't transfer over. Whether they didn't have the time or the budget or whatever, it just feels really rushed. Aladdin and Jasmine don't have much chemistry, the Genie's not really that funny. The animation, though I know they're trying, just can't compete with the incredible colors and movement that the first one had. Even the songs aren't as hummable. And, yeah, way too many of them are given to Gilbert Gottfried, (speaks sarcastically) because that's a voice I want to hear put to music.
(Several scenes, mainly focusing on the ending, are shown)
Doug (vo): I remember when my brother and I first saw it, we were more making fun of it than actually getting sucked into the story. But again, being kids, we did put it on once or twice after. We kind of accepted what it was, just a cheap knock-off, rushed-out, really fast, and I guess as cheap knock-offs go, it's not the worst. It's just not very good. Its purpose is made totally complete by the ending, where it just seems to end really abruptly. They just say, "Hey, we want to go see the world!", and it just kind of stops. I remember we were scratching our heads wondering what that was about, and then a few days later, the Aladdin cartoon show came out. So, yeah, really all this was was a pilot episode for the Aladdin cartoon. Honestly, I probably would've liked this more if it just came forward and said that's what this was, if they just announced there was an Aladdin show coming out and this was gonna be the first episode or a couple of episodes tied together, like what they usually do with the Disney Afternoon. But, no. They had to put it on VHS, slap Return of Jafar on it, and thus, we now have to judge it as a Disney movie. Not a theatrical release, but still a sequel to a theatrical release. And in that case, it's pretty bad. What would've made a passable TV pilot is now the beginning of a long line of disappointing DVD sequels.
(Several scenes showing the character of Abis Mal are shown)
Doug (vo): The only part that kind of gets a chuckle every once in a while is Jason Alexander as the thief. But that's because it's Jason Alexander and anything he touches is hilarious. Well, almost. (The poster for Hunchback of Notre Dame is shown) Disney did manage to crush him once. (Then the poster for Hunchback of Notre Dame II is shown, with the caption "Twice?") But even when he's saying unfunny lines, he can get a little bit of a laugh out of them. He's just that good.
Final thought Edit
Doug (vo): As for the rest, I think the word to describe it is probably "awkward". It's not godawful, it's not like there was no effort put into it, it's just...awkward. Looking back years later, it's not that big a deal, especially when you know all the sequels that are gonna come out after, but for a bunch of kids that were excited to finally see a sequel to one of the biggest Disney films they've ever seen, it was pretty underwhelming. I know it has a soft spot for some, I was just never one to get into it. But this would only be the beginning of the Disney sequel suck-fest. More were on the way, and there was so much more suffering to be had.
(The final scene of the movie is shown)