Aladdin IV: Jafar May Need Glasses is a 2007 Direct-to-Video animated film produced by Disney, directed by Seth MacFarlane at his company Fuzzy Door Productions and animated by an uncredited Korean studio. It is the third sequel in the highly successful Aladdin film series, and the second to last direct-to-video sequel made to a Disney Animated Canon film.
The film is ostensibly a prequel to the first three Aladdin films, hence why Jafar is alive after being killed off for good at the end of The Return of Jafar. Despite this, there are no direct ties to the first three Aladdin films plotwise, making the film come off as more of a Spin-Off—the only things connecting them together are the setting and Jafar himself. At any rate, the plot is centered on the sorcerer Jafar—long before he set off on his quest to steal the Magic Lamp from the Cave of Wonders and planned to usurp the throne from the Sultan, Jafar began experiencing problems with his usually perfect 20/20 vision. Fearing that the risk of failing eyesight would eventually ruin his life (or possibly his future plans), he uses a spellbook in his lair that allows him to time travel into the far flung future of 2007note to visit an eye clinic, where he gets an appointment to see if he will need glasses.
During the mid to late 2000s, Disney, trying hard to stay relevant by trailing the trend of cynical, pop culture heavy animation made famous by Dreamworks with films like Shrek, along with the 20th Century Fox TV show Family Guy, quickly commissioned this prequel, promoting it as Disney showing they could be versatile in any form of animation and not just be a company that made lavish, kid friendly fairy tales (even if some of them had already been fairly cynical), but in truth it was really to capitalize on other studios' successes while milking the highly successful Aladdin gravy train in turn. As a result, the film's tone is drastically different from the previous Aladdin films, which already stand out in the Disney Animated Canon for their more comedic tone. This one has barely any magic or fantasy in it at all, and the animation is on par with a very low budget TV cartoon. Because Disney had shut down their in-house hand-drawn animation department in 2004, and Disneytoon Studios, their sub studio which typically handled the direct-to-video sequels, was tied up with other projects, Disney was forced to outsource production to a smaller studio. They had previously approached several different outside studios and directors to make the film, all of them turning the offer down, but they ultimately landed the project at Seth MacFarlane's Fuzzy Door Productions studio, ironically the studio that makes Family Guy for rival company 20th Century Fox. Regardless of its clear ulterior motive, Seth was intrigued at the idea of Disney offering him the chance to make a film that subverted their own image and immediately took up their offer to make the film. The project was immediately greenlit, and Fuzzy Door Productions was then saddled with a meager budget of 300,000$ (roughly the budget of a typical half hour episode of a TV cartoon) and six months to complete the film, all so Disney could have the film out in time for a lucrative Christmas season release. Ironically, Disney would slowly begin rebuilding their in-house hand-drawn animation department to make The Princess and the Frog just around the time the film began production.
The making of the film was very turbulent thanks to its low budget, insanely tight deadline and poor treatment of the artists on board. The animators had to crank out the entire story in a week, and were given one month to storyboard and layout the entire one hour movie. A significant amount of content was scrapped due to budget and time constraints, among other issues—a cameo of Aladdin in the opening and ending was considered but cut, and an attempt to get Robin Williams to reprise his role as Genie (who would've provided the films narration) ended with an abrupt phone hang-up after he was pitched the film—an attempt was then made to get Dan Castellaneta to fill in for Williams, but scheduling conflicts with his work on The Simpsons also shot this down, so Genie was scrapped altogether. Several animators were working 14 hours a day with no vacation time or paid overtime to finish the film, and they were allowed no communication with each other at all during production. Some of them were actually sent to the hospital, wrecked from overwork, and they received no compensation for this beyond their regular salary. The animation was outsourced to an uncredited Korean studio, and they did such a sloppy job that they had to do retakes of whole scenes of the film just a month before the film was finished, and even then some errors still slipped in, such as Jafar's tiny body during the eye exam scene. The film nearly missed the deadline and almost went overbudget because of these issues. And the budget was so low, they couldn't even afford to hire Jafar's original voice actor, Jonathan Freeman, like they had planned—Seth Macfarlane subbed in for him by promising Disney to play the role for free just so the film wouldn't miss the deadline (and also because he was amused at the idea of voicing a Disney villain). For better or worse, the film was finished on time and quickly went to the pressing machine, with Disney printing millions of copies in anticipation of the film being a success. With a promotional campaign backing it, the movie made it to store shelves on December 13, 2007.
On release, Jafar May Need Glasses was immediately and universally panned by critics as one of the worst animated films ever released under the Disney name and the absolute nadir of Disney's already infamous direct-to-video sequels due to its very cheap animation and downright asinine premise, as well as being a blatant defilement of one of Disney's most popular movies and their esteemed brand image for going against everything they stood for in the past. As The Black Cauldron did to Disney in the 80's, Jafar May Need Glasses, alongside the tepidly-received Chicken Little (a previous attempt by Disney to ride the Dreamworks bandwagon), summed up everything that was wrong with the management and direction of the Disney studio in the mid-2000s. John Lasseter, who had recently become chief creative officer of Disney's animation studio, was furious that Disney, once the paragon of quality animation, would allow a film that was such a brazen cash grab (even by the standards of the low-budget sequels) to even enter production, much less see a full release, and made a point to ban production of any more direct-to-video Disney sequels after its release (with the exception of the Disney Fairies spinoff films and the last direct-to-video film that was in the pipeline, The Little Mermaid III: Ariel's Beginning. On top of that, Lasseter ordered all advertising for the film to be pulled, in spite of Disney counting on it being a big holiday season moneymaker. As a result, the DVD sold very poorly, and Disney was forced to transport millions of unsold inventory to a landfill in New Mexico, where they were smashed under a bulldozer and buried. Fuzzy Door Productions, for better or worse, got out financially unscathed due to coasting on the success of Family Guy and Disney being the ones who funded the project in the first place, and thus being the ones who had to write off their losses.
To date, copies of the film are exceedingly rareonly a 38-second clip of the film has made its way onto the internet (which can be seen here), and Disney snatches up any copies that make their way onto Ebay and Amazon, which tend to sell for thousands of dollars, and Disney is quick to remove any attempt to upload the full movie online. Disney is also rumored to have destroyed all production materials for the film and even went as far as destroying the original camera negatives, meaning the film will never again see the light of day. To date, the Walt Disney company has refused to discuss or even acknowledge the existence of the film. It is rumored that Seth Macfarlane is one of the very few people who owns a copy of the film, but he refuses to release the whole film due to Disney threatening legal action against him if he did. A few people have claimed to have seen Seth's personal copy of the film, but Disney bribed them to keep any details they know about the movie secret.
Curiously, a fourth sequel was already in the works by Fuzzy Door Productions by the time this film was finished, Aladdin V: Jafar Answers The Census. Disney was apparently so confident that Jafar May Need Glasses would be a huge moneymaker, that they immediately commissioned it before Glasses even ended production, which increased the already unbearable workload for the staff. Little is known about the film, but it was intended as a made-for-TV movie for the Disney Channel, and the basic plot of the movie would've been about Jafar answering the census at the Sultan's palace. Like with this film, it was intended as a prequel, but it was at least planned to star Iago in a supporting role. For better or worse, it had barely begun production before John Lasseter enforced the sequel ban. Only 37 seconds of animation were completed before the project was abruptly cancelled, and this footage was eventually leaked onto the internet in 2011. That animation can also be seen here. It is rumored that Seth MacFarlane still owns the workprint of the film, but he likewise refuses to share any of it online due to legal issues.
For extra irony, it bears noting that Disney bought the rights to the show it was ripping off of, Family Guy, from 20th Century Fox on Dec. 14th, 2017, a full decade after this film's release.
Compare to Disney's Anne Frank, a similarly infamous animated movie that Disney has gone out of their way to bury.
- 13 Is Unlucky: The film was released on the 13th of December, and ended up being one of the biggest failures the Disney company ever experienced.
- Absentee Actor: Every series character who isn't Jafar, including Iago, is absent, but the Sultan and Jasmine's presence is implied due to Jafar already having his lab in their palace. Aladdin himself doesn't even make a cameo appearance despite his name being on the cover. Justified as the story is a prequel and takes place before Jafar met Aladdin.
- A Day in the Limelight: Jafar gets an entire movie all to himself here.
- Alternate Continuity: The movie is set in a timeline clearly separate from that of the original Aladdin movie.
- Anachronism Stew: The Aladdin movies are clearly set in pre-Islamic Arabia, yet the setting and centerpiece of the film is Jafar visiting a modern eye clinic, although this could be chalked up to him using his skills as a sorcerer to time travel. Also, glasses weren't invented until 1286, well after the time of the Aladdin films.
- Another Dimension: Word of God has given a Retcon to the story, saying that Jafar didn't actually travel into the future, but into the dimension of Family Guy instead.
- Art Evolution: The art style is drastically different from the original Aladdin movies. It's much cruder and flatter looking in contrast to the vivid, shaded colors and flowing smooth lines of the previous films.
- Artifact Title: Despite being billed as an Aladdin sequel, Aladdin does not appear at all in the film, not even as a cameo. In fact, none of the other cast from the movies appear. It's solely a vehicle for Jafar.
- Audience Shift: The film is aimed more towards the older crowd than the previous Aladdin films, which were aimed at families and kids.
- Background Music: Averted, as there is no music in the film at all, only voices and sound effects.
- Bottle Episode: The bulk of the film was set inside of the eye clinic as a way of keeping the films meager budget under control.
- Call-Forward: The implied Time Travel premise may be one to the first movie. After Jafar escapes capture from the Sultan, Iago pulls out items that clearly wouldn't exist in pre-Islamic Arabia, such as guns and a photograph. Presumably, Jafar picked up the guns and a print-out camera in the present day during the events of this film, or possibly in another unrelated time travel venture.
- Canon Discontinuity: As with all of the other Disney sequels (with the exception of The Rescuers Down Under), this film is not canon to the original Aladdin film, and all story elements from it (along with the Eye Doctor) have been declared off-limits for use in any other Disney works.
- Canon Foreigner: The Eye Doctor is a completely new character who was created solely for this film.
- Cheated Angle: Because the characters' eyes are stylized to sit on the side of the characters faces, the eye exam machine is tilted to the side of Jafar's face instead of directly in front to accommodate this.
- Color Contrast: The plain background of the eye clinic is deliberately stylized in a flat bluish gray to make Jafar's black and red outfit stick out.
- Crossover: Word of God stated years after the film was made that the "future" Jafar traveled to is actually set in the dimension of Family Guy. This should come as no surprise, since two of their characters briefly traveled into the Disney equivalent of their dimension once.
- Disney School of Acting and Mime: Deliberately averted due to the use of Limited Animation.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The film's whole plot hinges on the fact that Jafar might need glasses.
- Excuse Plot: The wafer thin premise is just a thinly veiled excuse to give Jafar his own film and allow Disney to cash in on the series' brand image.
- Flat Character: The Eye Doctor has no distinguishable personality. He's just a professional that does his job and nothing more.
- Foregone Conclusion: Given Jafar isn't wearing glasses in any of the other films he appeared in and that there was already another film starring Jafar already in the works by the time of release of this film, it's safe to say that Jafar didn't need glasses after all.
- Four-Fingered Hands: Jafar is mistakenly drawn with these in the eye exam sequence. The Eye Doctor seems to naturally have them, however.
- Funny Background Event: If you look carefully, you can see Jafar's goatee is so long that it pokes out of the chin strap.
- Genre Shift: The film abandons the wacky comedy, fantasy and adventure of the original movies for a more sitcom like comedy style aimed more towards adults than kids and families.
- Happy Ending: It turns out Jafar didn't need glasses after all.
- Large Ham: Distinctly averted with Jafar in this film. In contrast to how theatrical he was in the movies, he's very calm and mellow here.
- Law of Conservation of Detail: The film only has the bare minimum of what it needs to get the story points across, and nothing more.
- Lean and Mean: Jafar is supposedly drawn like this in the bulk of the film per his standard appearance, and the boxart for the DVD even uses his regular look. The eye clinic scene averts this due to messing up the animation.
- Leave the Camera Running: The few people who have seen the film claim that the infamous Eye Exam scene runs for at least 30 minutes, all without a single cut.
- Limited Animation: While the previous two Aladdin sequels had this, this film takes it further to where the film has almost no animation at all. Justified, as Disney had shut down their hand-drawn animation department and their other service studios had their hands full with other projects, so they outsourced this one to Fuzzy Door Productions (who then outsourced the animation to a Korea studio in turn) and gave them a very low budget for the film.
- Lull Destruction: The entire eye exam scene is wall to wall dialogue, most of which adds nothing to the scene, and it never lets up for its entire length.
- Mime and Music-Only Cartoon: Inverted, as the cartoon has only dialogue and sound effects, no music and almost no dialogue!
- Minimalist Cast: Jafar and the Eye Doctor are the only major characters in the movie.
- Minimalism: The soundtrack. There is no music in the entire film at all, only voices and sound effects.
- Mohs Scale of Violence Hardness: Lands right on the 0 end of the scale. There is absolutely nothing violent in the movie at all.
- Nice Guy: The Eye Doctor. He doesn't once question Jafar's unusual appearance and professionally helps him out by giving him an eye exam.
- No Antagonist: There's no real villain in the film, and Jafar himself doesn't do anything remotely evil in it—he's just out getting his eyes examined.
- Non-Linear Sequel: It takes place before any of the Aladdin films, even though it's titled as the fourth film installment in the series.
- No Name Given: The Eye Doctor that Jafar meets is never given a name. Apparently, even the credits just call him "The Ophthalmologist".
- Nonstandard Character Design: The Eye Doctor's appearance is unusually mundane and flat looking in contrast to the characters from the Aladdin universe. Justified due to the film being set in another dimension.
- Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Seth Macfarlane, the voice of Jafar in this film, doesn't even attempt to emulate the voice of Jafar's usual actor (Jonathan Freeman) and just uses his natural speaking voice.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: This is presumably why Jafar is not as bombastic as he is in the first two Aladdin films. His fear of his eyesight failing him might have him genuinely concerned enough to where he drops the theatricality and gets right down to business with solving it.
- Official Parody: Disney claimed the film was intended to be this.
- Off-Model: Due to being outsourced to Korea with a very small timeframe to animate it, there are noticeable animation goofs, most infamously in the eye examination scene, where Jafar inexplicably has a tiny body with an out of scale head in contrast to his usual appearance—and they accidentally drew him with Four-Fingered Hands on top of that. They tried doing a retake for that scene, but it came back hardly any better than before (and they still screwed up the hands), and because of the strict deadline, Fuzzy Door Productions was unable to do another retake in time for the films release.
- Overly Long Gag: The entire scene where Jafar first gets his eyes examined. It lasts at least a good 38 seconds on screen. The few who have seen the full movie claim the full scene runs for a whopping 30 minutes.
- Prequel: Jafar was clearly killed off for good at the end of The Return of Jafar, and while Hades briefly allowed him to come back to life in the Hercules crossover episode, it went south once his new staff was broken and Jafar helplessly sank into the river Styx. Thus a prequel was the only option for him to return alive. With that said, the film doesn't have any real ties to the other movies story wise, so it comes off as being more of a Spin-Off than a real prequel.
- Red and Black and Evil All Over: Jafar dresses in his standard Obviously Evil looking red and black vizier outfit when he travels into 2007, but it doesn't remotely bother the Eye Doctor.
- Retcon: The original Time Travel premise was retconned so that Jafar actually traveled into the dimension of another cartoon series altogether instead of the future.
- Red Herring: The medicine cabinet behind the Eye Doctor. It seems like a subtle piece of scenery that'll come into play later, but it never does.
- Retcon: Jafar originally went to the future of 2007, but Seth says he actually travelled into the Family Guy universe instead.
- "Shaggy Dog" Story: It turns out Jafar's eyesight is fine and that he doesn't need glasses, meaning the whole plot was entirely pointless.
- Shout-Out: In the lobby preceding the Eye Doctor's room, a Sega Genesis with the game Dr. Claw's Dump N' Pump can be seen.
- Self-Deprecation: Jafar's line "...about the same. Number one might be a tiny bit better." is Fuzzy Door Productions lampshading the infamy of Disney's direct-to-video sequels and poking fun at themselves for the fact that they're making one of those sequels.
- Sinister Schnoz: Jafar's large hook nose prominently sticks out of the eye examining machine in the eye clinic.
- Slice of Life: While there is something resembling a plot, the film aims for this kind of tone in its humor.
- Sliding Scale of Animation Elaborateness: Falls on the Planned Limited Television Animation side of the scale.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Falls more on the cynical side of it in contrast to the previous Aladdin movies due to its tone of humor and more mundane depiction of the Aladdin universe, but Jafar presumably does get a happy ending in the film.
- Sliding Scale of Realistic Versus Fantastic: Falls on the Surreal end of the scale due to the bizarre premise alone.
- Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. Seriousness: Falls on the Silly End, despite the humor being cynical Family Guy style comedy.
- Sliding Scale of Visuals Versus Dialogue: Falls squarely on the Dialogue end of the scale due to it using limited animation.
- Sphere Eyes: The Eye Doctor's eyes are drawn like this.
- Start of Darkness: Averted. Despite serving as a prequel, we don't actually get to see what pushed Jafar over the edge. Overall, Jafar is significantly nicer than in the first film, meaning he either went bad somewhere between the two films or it's just an act.
- Static Character: Neither Jafar or the Eye Doctor go through any Character Development in the movie.
- The Stoic: The Eye Doctor has no emotion on his face whatsoever.
- Super-Deformed: Jafar is unintentionally drawn this way during the eye exam scene.
- Stylistic Suck: Disney marketed the film as going for the crude Family Guy style animation approach because they thought it would make the film funnier, as well as make it stand out from their usual product. In truth, it was just because the films budget was that low.
- Take That!: The whole "film" is just a Family Guy skit taking a jab at Disney's direct-to-video sequels. The whole joke of the dumb plot is that it's an entirely pointless sequel.
- Time Travel: The only possible explanation for how Jafar could be in present times. He is a powerful sorcerer, after all. This was later retconned to Jafar traveling into another dimension instead.
- Trilogy Creep: The fourth installment to what was originally just a trilogy of Aladdin films.
- Troperiffic: The film manages to be this in spite of its minimalism, and the lions share of them are related to the infamous eye exam scene. There are 78 tropes on the main page, 20 YMMV tropes and 22 trivia tropes, meaning theres 3 tropes per second due to that scene alone. Making it more impressive is that the eye exam scene is the only part of the film that actually exists.
- The Twelve Principles of Animation: In contrast to the previous Aladdin films, Disney deliberately ordered Fuzzy Door Productions to not use them in the films animation, in order to keep the low budget under control, but publicity worded it that it was a deliberately stylistic choice to make the film stand out from Disney's typical animation.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: The Eye Doctor isn't remotely bothered by the fact that an anachronistically dressed Arabic sorcerer is requesting an eye examination from him.
- Villain Decay: Jafar was a truly fearsome and frightening villain in the original Aladdin film and its sequel, especially once he got transformed into a genie. The Jafar in this movie wouldn't scare Piglet. He's about as ordinary and imposing as a tired nextdoor neighbor.
- Villain Protagonist: Jafar due to his future plans, even though he doesn't actually do anything evil in the plot.
- Villains Out Shopping: Jafar isn't doing anything evil in the actual film. He's just out getting his eyes examined.
- Vocal Evolution: Since Jonathan Freeman was unable to reprise his role as Jafar, Seth MacFarlane substituted for him, giving him an uncharacteristically pedestrian voice in contrast.
- Wolverine Publicity: The reason why the film has Aladdin in its title despite the fact that Aladdin doesn't appear in the film at all. Disney was worried that the film wouldn't sell as well if it was just billed as a Jafar film, so they shrewdly billed it as a fourth installment of the Aladdin series instead.