Aladdin and the King of Thieves (1996)

Own it!

review by Scott Hamilton and Chris Holland
See also:

Black Cauldron

Beauty and the Beast: Enchanted Christmas

My Neighbor Totoro

Kiki's Delivery Service

Aladdin and the King of Thieves

Lava LampLava Lamp

Our rating: two LAVA® motion lamps.

Robin Williams returns as the voice of the Genie.
After the runaway success of the film Aladdin, Disney tried its first foray in the direct-to-video animation business. Direct-to-video animated films have done very well in Japan, where they are called Original Animated Videos (OAV for short), and Disney thought the American market was ripe for such films. Disney's first OAV was The Return of Jafar, a sequel to Aladdin. Although it was only a partial success (mostly due to the fact that the Simpsons' Dan Castellaneta played the Genie, and not Robin Williams), it did well enough to spawn an animated television series and OAVs for other Disney movies. Eventually, a second Aladdin OAV was made: Aladdin and the King of Thieves.

Believe it or not, it has actually taken this long for Aladdin and Jasmine to work up the courage to get hitched. As the film opens, the city of Agrabah is gearing up for the big wedding. Although Aladdin has some second thoughts about marrying when he knows nothing about starting a family, everything looks like it's going to go fine... until the plot shows up. The wedding is attacked by a party of thieves -- forty, to be precise. Although the thieves are successfully repelled, the object they were after, an Oracle, tells Aladdin that his father is still alive -- and his voice sounds remarkably like that of John Rhys-Davies.

Aladdin sets off in search of his father, who is a "prisoner" of the 40 Thieves. OK, he's actually the King of Thieves (see, Aladdin? You were a prince after all!), and Aladdin is soon caught up in the affairs of the 40 Thieves. Lots of hand-to-hand combat ensues, accompanied by the retread antics of Abu, Iago, and the Carpet. For some reason, they didn't take the Genie with them into the 40 Thieves' den... what kind of planning is that? Take the parrot and monkey, but leave the powerful Genie behind? This smacks of the time-honored practice of scripting around an actor's demands; including the Genie in this party would have required an extra half-hour of voice time for Williams.

Sadly, Williams is the only thing in this Aladdin movie worth paying attention to. Even if you are fond of the other characters, they're so poorly animated you'll be distracted by their distorted features. Jasmine's eyes have somehow managed to wrap around both sides of her head, and Abu is more chimp than monkey. And how many times do we have to listen to Gilbert Gottfried scream "Okay -- that's it!"? The songs, although catchy while you're watching the movie, fall into one of two categories: based on tunes from the original movie, or utterly forgettable.

The really disturbing thing about this is that Disney could have ruled the direct-to-video market if they had poured even half of the resources into their OAVs that they devote to their feature films. Instead, they try to get away with Saturday-morning quality animation and retread music. What a waste.

Review date: 04/28/1997

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