Disney(ish) Reviews with the Unshaved Mouse: Aladdin and the King of Thieves

Guys, we need to talk about Genie.

From a story-telling perspective, Genie is kind of a curse for the Aladdin franchise, a problem that has to be perpetually written around.

He is what Phoenix was to the X-Men, or Sentry was to the Avengers, a character so ridiculously over-powered that the writers have to bend over backwards to justify why he doesn’t just solve everything with a snap of his fingers and leave the rest of the cast standing there looking like a bunch of putzes.

And that’s just from a story-telling perspective. Of any character from the original film, the one who least needs a continuation to their story is Genie. I mean, fine, you could argue that none of the main cast were really crying out for a new chapter but at least with Aladdin, Jasmine and even Iago there places to go. Genie? Genie’s done. He wanted to be free. He’s free. Can he learn? Can he grow? No.

He already knows who Rodney Dangerfield is. There is nothing more for him to learn.

Which creates a problem. From a strict story-telling perspective, once you’re past the first movie, Genie really should have been quietly shown the door. Maybe have him pop in to say “hi” every now and then and make some pop culture references but having him remain as a main cast member just creates two mountains of work for the writers: the first as to how involve him in the plot and the second as to how to stop him just ending the plot in five seconds.

But…they can’t. Because he’s the Genie. Probably the most popular character in the franchise (heck, one of the most popular Disney characters period) and you can’t have Aladdin without him.

I bring this up because King of Thieves (an otherwise quite fine movie and a worthy finale to a decent TV show) is where this problem is probably at its most blatant. Return of Jafar had very little for Genie to do, but sidelined him for long stretches of its run time, but King of Thieves has even less for Genie to do and perversely, gives him far more screentime.

And the reason for that, of course, is ROBIN’S BACK BABY!

Yeah. After a campaign of grovelling and mea-culpas and a gift of a fruckin $1 Million Picasso, Robin Williams and Disney had finally patched up their differences for the kids and their associated revenue. Poor Dan Castellenata, who by this time had clocked in over forty hours of screentime as the Genie and had even recorded his dialogue for this movie was unceremoniously given the boot and Williams was brought in to re-record everything.

Adding insult to injury, Disney apologised to Castellenata with a frickin’ Renoir.

So the movie begins with Jasmin and Aladdin finally preparing to tie the knot after two movies and almost ninety episodes of living in sin. As hordes of wedding guests descend on Agrahbah, Genie sings There’s a Party Here in Agrahbah, the poor man’s Prince Ali. While the songs are still pretty bad, there has been a noticeable improvement in the animation which now hovers around the region of passable. In fact, there are scenes in this that get downright frisky in their use of colour and lighting. But…there is still a noticeable problem with keeping characters on model. For some reason, it’s the bride’s side of the family that get the worst of it. Jasmine remains an unattainable siren for the animators, forever beyond their reach to make look like anything other than one of the Gelflings from Dark Crystal and as for the Sultan?

Ha! No seriously, where’s the Sultan. Where’s he at?

Anyway, Genie finds Aladdin and Abu getting ready for the wedding in their old bachelor hovel. Aladdin has a dagger, which Genie assumes is a wedding gift for Jasmine.

She does love cutting fools.

But Aladdin explains it belongs to his father, who died when Aladdin was still a kid. Aladdin admits that he’s nervous about marriage because he never really had a family growing up and I know it’s a small thing but I do really like how the characters in this franchise make sense. Like, they’re not just cartoon characters reacting to whatever random shit the writers throw at them, they actually act in a way consistent with their established backstory. Because, yes, it makes perfect sense that a kid who grew up on the streets with no parents would be worried about making a stable family.

The wedding is just about to begin when a mysterious masked figure dressed in blue and his cadre of thieves (of whom there always seems to be considerably more or considerably less than forty) cause a stampede of elephants to disrupt the ceremony so they can steal all the wedding gifts.

Of course, Iago is guarding the treasure instead of watching the wedding and tries to fight off the thieves’ leader saying “Meet yer match, Zorro!” because apparently Genie has been giving courses in future pop culture references to the other comedic sidekicks. The leader, who calls himself “The King of Thieves” battles Aladdin while his blushing bride-to-be brutally beats burly brigands bloody.

“Try wearing a corset!”

The thieves amscray and Aladdin discovers that the staff the King was trying to steal actually contained an Oracle, who offers to answer any question Aladdin asks of it. Aladdin, realising that he finally has a chance to answer all his questions about his past, asks the Oracle where his father is and she reveals that he is still alive, “trapped within the world of the Forty Thieves” and, also, a total hottie.

 

In fact, he is at the top of my wife’s list of attractive older Disney men…

“That’s not what it’s called and you promised you’d post the entire list.”

“Sigh. Fine.”

 

WE INTERRUPT THIS REVIEW TO BRING YOU

SPOUSE OF MOUSE’S TOP FIVE MOST

FUCKABLE DISNEY DILFS

 

Honorable Mention: Triton

Got the swimmer’s bod and the lustrous flowing mane of hair. But, unfortunately, has no dick.

#5 King Agnarr 

Gotta love a man with good posture.

#4 King Frederick

Like Agnarr, but voiced by Clancy Brown. Now we’re approaching serious dilf-hood.

#3 Lord John Greystoke

On the one hand, having all these royals and aristocrats on the list is in tension with my republican principals. On the other hand: WOOF.

#2 James

Former military man, great with kids, wizard in the kitchen. Momma like.

#1 Cassim

MAXIMUM DILF

 

“Sorry guys, it’s mating season. She gets a little thirsty.”

ANYWAY.

Aladdin decides that his father must be a prisoner of the Forty Theves and sets off to rescue him with carpet, Iago and Abu.

Not Genie though. Genie has to stay and repair the palace. I would have waited until my near-omnipotent buddy was finished before venturing into the lair of a gang of vicious brigands armed with a monkey, but what do I know?

So they track the Forty Thieves to their lair which opens by saying the magic word “Open Sesame”. There, Aladdin discovers that his father is only a prisoner of the Forty Thieves in the sense that we’re all prisoners of our day jobs, he’s actually running the gang. Cassim is overjoyed to see his son, because he thought that he was dead this whole time.

Everything would be dandy, except that Cassim has a Starscream called Sa’luk, voiced by Jerry Orbach who points out that Aladdin knows their secrets and has to die. So, while King of Thieves is pretty much an across the board improvement over Return of Jafar, it really can’t hold a candle to it in the villain department. Jafar, even rendered in shitty Australian/Japanese animation, is still Jafar, and Sa’luk is no Jafar. This isn’t a crippling weakness. The main meat of the movie is the relationship between Aladdin and Cassim, and Cassim is awesome. Honestly one of the best characters in the whole franchise, and Jonathan Rhys-Davies is perfect in the role. Sa’luk is very much a plot-required antagonist and he doesn’t really need to be anything special but damn tho, he really isn’t something special. The design is basic “thug” and Jerry Orbach does not have a voice cut for menace. A friendly, amorous, perpetually melting wax monster? Certainly. But not a villain.

Miguel Ferrer would have killed in this part.

Anyway, Sa’luk wants Aladdin dead but Cassim instead invokes “The Challenge”, where Aladdin has to fight Sa’luk to take his place in the gang. This leads to a quite impressive fight scene with really striking use of colour and a good deal more violence than they were able to get away with on the TV show but it ends with Sa’luk plunging to his death over a cliff (oh, like that ever sticks).

So now Aladdin’s officially a member of the Forty Thieves and he gets to ask Cassim why he abandoned his family all those years ago. Cassim tells Aladdin that he didn’t want his son to grow up poor like him so he went looking for the Hand of Midas, which can transform anything it touches to gold.

“Did…you ever actually read the end of that story?”

“Why? It TURNS EVERYTHING IT TOUCHES TO GOLD. What more do I need to know?”

Cassim of course claims that he thought Aladdin and his mother were dead.

“Why?”

“Just a hunch?”

“But couldn’t you…”

“Always play your hunches kid, take it from your old man.”

Aladdin asks Cassim to at least have a chance at a World’s Greatest Dad mug and come back to Agrahbah to witness his wedding. Cassim doesn’t want to take the risk but Iago, like his namesake, whispers honeyed poison into his ear and tells him that it’s his best chance of asking the Oracle where the Hand of Midas is.

“I have profess’d me thy friend, and I confess me knit to thy
deserving with cables of perdurable toughness. I could never better
stead thee than now. Put money in thy purse;”

Back in Agrahbah, Aladdin tells everyone that Cassim was being held prisoner by the Forty Thieves and everyone instantly likes him because he a charming bastich.

But Sa’luk is still alive, obviously, and claws his way out of the sea while fighting multiple sharks and oh ho, movie, you little scamp, you almost had me! You almost made me think Sa’luk was kind of badass.

“Aw, Mouse, you’re too smart for me.”

“Yeah, no, he sucks though.”

Sa’luk, instead of being cool, gets his revenge by ratting out the Forty Thieves to Razoul like a nark. Razoul and the palace guards manage to capture 31 of the thieves, leaving only the ones we’ve actually seen and drastically reducing the animation costs. When Sa’luk sees that neither Aladdin or Cassim were among the thieves when they were captured, he tells Razoul that the father of the groom is actually Agrahbah’s most wanted.

This leads to Razoul surprising Cassim and Iago just as they were trying to steal the Oracle’s staff, and the Sultan has no choice but to throw them both in the dungeon. Aladdin is furious that Cassim betrayed his trust. He disguises himself as the King of Thieves in order to distract the guards and also just because he rocks the look.

He fools the guards into thinking that he’s Cassim which baffles them because “no one can escape that dungeon!” and oh please, Arkham has better security than that place. He then doubles back and springs Cassim and tells him to leave Agrahbah and never come back. But Razoul tackles Aladdin on the rooftop and unmasks him, so now Aladdin is a wanted criminal. Again. Fortunately, Cassim rescues Aladdin and they flee the city along with Iago. Cassim wants Aladdin to come with him but Aladdin refuses to abandon Jasmine because apparently the douche gene skipped a generation. Aladdin also tells Iago to stay with Cassim because it’s what he wants and it’s presented as a sweet moment but honestly I think Aladdin’s finally realised that the bird’s just too much fucking trouble.

Cassim returns to the cave of the Forty Thieves only to find that Sa’luk has turned the last seven thieves against him through the power of a pretty mediocre song. They capture him and use the Oracle to show them the way to the Hand of Midas, but Iago escapes and flies back to get help.

Meanwhile, Aladdin is put on trial for helping the King of Thieves escape, and, despite the fact that he is the Sultan’s soon to be son-in-law, the law is applied fairly and he is forced to serve a sentence as punishment for his…

Nah, course not. This is Agrahbah. Ordinary people get be-handed for stealing bread, but if you’re in with the ruling class you’re un-fucking-touchable. I mean, the constitution of this place is probably a napkin with the words “Well am I Sultan or am I Sultan?” written on it.

Just as Aladdin is celebrating his close escape from the nefarious clutches of consequence for his actions, Iago arrives and tells him that his father is in danger and Aladdin of course says “Fuck him”.

Seriously. That’s in the movie. Would I lie to you?

Anyway, he’s convinced to rescue his father by Genie and…what I think is supposed to be Jasmine?

“Durrrrrrrrr…”

Goddamn it, Australian and Japanese animators what did she do to you?

Anyway, they head out to where the Hang of Midas is hidden, in an abandoned city floating on the back of a giant turtle (sex unknown).  They defeat the seven thieve (because, y’know, they have a genie which is frankly unsportsmanlike) and Cassim and Aladdin work together to get the Hand of Midas. Sal’luk almost kills Aladdin and grabs the Hand of Midas which turns him to to solid gold…

“Oh wait. Now I see the problem.”

Cassim realises that the Hand of Midas almost cost him the real greatest treasure which was yadda yadda yadda you see where this is going, and he throws the Hand of Midas into the sea, which turns the ocean into gold, thus dooming all life on Earth. Probably.

Anyway, the movie ends with Cassim proudly watching as his son and Jasmine finally tie the knot and riding off into the desert with his new partner in crime, Iago.

Not gonna. Would watch the fuck out of it.

***

King of Thieves is actually a lot better than I remembered it. Not perfect, and obviously it’s a good few grades below the original but it treats its characters with respect, the cast is excellent, the script is funny the songs are…the songs are…y’know. It has songs.

Scoring

How butt ugly is the animation? Is it as ugly as a butt?: 09/20

Still not great, but there is real ambition and effort here and it is a marked improvement over Jafar. 

Are the main characters jerks? I bet they’re jerks: 17/20

Aladdin gets some really nice shading where we see he’s more than just a generic “good guy”. Jasmine gets to punch some fools which is always fun. And Cassim is a great addition to the cast.

Bet the villain’s a real shitpile, character wise: 08/20

Not terrible. Just dull.

Oh what’s this? Supporting characters? Fuck you supporting characters!: 14/20

Rajah, Abu and Carpet are basically background characters now because we need to make room for Robin Williams to muck about. Some of it’s funny, honestly, but there’s a lot of “Pop Culture Reference=Instant Funny” Theory at work here. Again, surprisingly, it’s Iago who proves the most interesting of the fifty bajillion comic relief characters

Man, fuck the music. I hope it dies: 10/20

Con: The Songs are still bad. Pro: Iago doesn’t sing any of them. Second Pro: The score by Mark Watters and Carl Johnson is actually pretty awesome.

FINAL SCORE: 58% 

NEXT UPDATE: 31 October 2019

NEXT TIME: Something spooooooooooooooooooooooooky…

36 comments

    1. Me! Obsessively rewatched RoJ, watched KoT once and was fairly meh about it. Mostly I think because Jasmine is my favourite character and I aggressively did not and do not care about Aladdin’s relationship with his dad. But RoJ is also just a really fun romp.

  1. Fun fact: Jasmine gave the entire animation team a fake number at a bar, and this is their petty revenge.

    I prefer Return of Jafar to this, but I think that’s mainly nostalgia because in a lot of ways it’s better, and I didn’t see this one until high school. Cassim is a great character, and it made a good finale to the series.

    Yeah, even as a kid I remember watching the show and facepalming whenever they left the Genie behind, because you just know they’re going to get into trouble. Even if he’s not omnipotent, he’s still a magical Swiss Army Knife. You don’t usually get episodes of Doctor Who where the Doctor leaves the sonic screwdriver to mind the kettle or something, because that would be dumb.

    Yay, a spooky review, just what I want. I’m watching 50 horror movies for the season, but I gave myself too much time and am going to finish well before the big day, so it’ll be nice to still have something eerie to look forward to.

  2. Totally agree with Miguel Ferrer being a good Sa’luk but not sure if he could sing. And unpopular opinion but I prefer the songs in both sequels to those in the original film.

    1. SEIZE HIM!

      (Have muddy memories of seeing this when I was a tiny tot at some kind of indoor summer camp; Sa’luk still holds a special place in my heart as the most intense cartoon villain I’d seen up to that point, and I still hum the Forty Thieves’ first musical number every now and then. Otherwise? Don’t remember nada.)

  3. The problem with Genie in the sequel material was that it wasn’t Robin Williams riffing for 17 years and them animating around it. It was a bunch of writers deciding what Robin Williams would say. Then throwing a bunch of pop culture funnies in and making that his character.

  4. Speaking of Miguel Ferrer, anyone else feel like Sa’luk was just a warm-up for Shan-Yu? Seriously, a large, intimidating villain with little comedy involved around him? A Disney prototype if you ask me.

    “Jasmine gets to punch some fools” And if she had gotten that dagger as a wedding gift she’d get to stab some fools.

    So another fun fact, the series did give an explanation on why Genie couldn’t solve all the problems of the week. Apparently after he was freed his powers went down to semi-phenomenal, 𝘯𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘭𝘺 cosmic powers. They also focused on his more, for lack of a better word, humanity. He could still fall prey to his own prejudices and insecurities, not to mention he’s still a total goofball. Plus, to keep the stakes up, they also added anti-magical creatures and antagonists with magic that matched or even surpassed him. So while in theory Genie’s arc and relevance ended with the first movie, they did put in the work to keep him around.

    Anyway, can’t wait for your spooooooooooooooooooooooooky thing you’ve got planned.

  5. I do remember even as a kid, it bothered me that Aladdin didn’t take Genie to take on the Forty Thieves, or that logically Genie should have no trouble going up against non-magical mortal villains. That said, I’ve always found Cassim quite fascinating, so much so that I wish he was in the series instead of just appearing for the finale. I like how the film also concludes Iago’s story by having him go off with Cassim, Iago might be on the side of the angels now, but I never bought him being willing to spend all his time with a goody-two-shoes like Aladdin, he is still a rogue at heart, after all.

    I’ve heard the plot was originally centred around Mozenrath and him being Aladdin’s brother, but they couldn’t find his voice actor, and they didn’t want to connect themselves to the show too much (presumably so as not to confuse people who had only seen the films). I think a Mozenrath plot would’ve been a great idea since he was definitely the biggest villain in the show, and a worthy follow-up to Jafar (far more than Sa’luk, anyway). On the other hand, I’m glad we got the plot we got, and I can’t imagine Mozenrath fitting into it.

  6. Figures that the MAXIMUM DILF is the guy who just left his family in the lurch….

    Of all the Disney cheapquels, I guess this one is the only one I kind of like. I mean, it is not great, but it serves as a good conclusion to the TV show, Aladdin gets some character development which actually makes sense and the songs are not annoying. And I guess Cassim is the one Cheapquel character I would be tempted to add to a Disney line-up. Along with the Baker from Cinderella 2 that is.

    1. when you really think about Kassim is the Walter White of Disney characters. He says he turns to crime to provide for his family but after learning his son is marrying into wealth he still tries to steal the oracle to sate his greed

  7. Are you making MILF list anytime? It probably would be mostly be the wife’s of the guys here and Chicha and…I guess Kida’s mom? Or Jim Hawkin’s mom Sarah or Aurora’s mother. Or Mrs Darling. So I guess there are some choices. And I didn’t know Kong’s from Frozen and Tangled had names…

    Fun that you reviewed two of the better Disney sequels now. Cinderella 3 when?

  8. I never saw this one (thought after this review and with all of the DTV sequels sure to be available on Disney+ maybe I should give it a shot) but I do remember the golden age of Disney movie spinoff cartoons and this has made me nostalgic for it. Something always felt a little classier about the spinoff series than the lone DTV sequels. They were putting the hours in. I’m kind of glad we’re moving back to that with Big Hero 6 and Tangled.

  9. Here’s one for the Surprisingly Similar Storylines file:

    In the third installment of a popular adventure movie series, the hero is reunited with his long-lost father who had neglected him in favor of pursuing a mystical artifact. He joins his father in the quest, bridging the gap between them as it goes on. In the end, the father lets the artifact go, realizing that the real treasure is the restored relationship with his son.

    Now am I talking about Aladdin And The King Of Thieves…

    …or Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade?

    (It CAN’T be a coincidence that Cassim not only sounds a bit like Sean Connery, but is voiced by Sallah himself!)

    1. He has a lot of time before the next MCU film. And it’s better he doesn’t review the films right after they come out but after thinking it a bit and seeing the overall reaction.

  10. Such a hilarious review especially the part about waiting for the genie to be finished before breaking into the lair armed with a monkey, lol!

    Is your mouse wife into Frollo at all?

    I actually really love the songs! I mean besides the one Jasmine sings, I find myself singing every single song to myself quite often!

  11. UNF. Cassim. *High Fives Ms. Mouse.* Dat character design. Dat voice. I also really like that his and Aladdin’s relationship is allowed to be complex and messy and even the
    ‘happy’ resolution reflects that. And Iago leaving with him just feels right. Especially since, as he puts it “You’re a good guy Cassim…but not too good.” And the Peddler comes back with that reprise of Arabian Nights is just the perfect cap on it!

  12. Review for the 31th:

    Oh, I hope it’s NOT Monster House. That’s one of those animated movies that are just so bland they’re near impossible to make entertaining reviews for, although if anyone can that’s you.

  13. I’m fairly certain “Aladdin, I thought you and your mother were dead” is Disney-speak for “Sorry, kid, but treasure-hunting is both easier and more entertaining than being a parent.”

    Isn’t “Fuckable DILFs” a bid redundant? I mean, it’s already part of the acronym. Ah well. Can’t argue with the number 1 choice. Triton’s hot but his control issues make him one-stand or booty call material only.

  14. Honestly, I liked King of Thieves better than Return of Jafar. Half because Jafar creeped me out and half because the second-hand embarrassment was too strong with the whole “Jasmine finding out Aladdin kept Iago a secret” thing. Pretty much “I’d love to go into another room and skip this scene, please” strong.
    And, granted it’s been well over a decade since I’ve seen either of them (curse you, dead VHS player), but I could have sworn that I remember Cassim saying he did go back to find Aladdin and his mom but they weren’t where he left them. Could have just as easily been Young Me reading too deeply into some of the dialogue/song lyrics.
    *gets the popcorn ready for a birthday review*
    ((Yeah, I have a Halloween birthday. It’s easy to remember at least.))

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