Time to watch the movies from the companies who thought they could take on Big Mouse. I'll talk to you folks about the movies, the making of same, and the culture that surrounds them. This is My Year Without Walt Disney Animation Studios. Join me, won't you.
The year was 2000. AOL ruled the internet, George Bush was known mainly for occasionally saying something silly, and a young Jimmy Fallon was teaching us all how to laugh. As America settled into the new Willenium, a nerdy tenth grader named Brian Lynch was very excited about a new movie, a cool sci-fi drama. Something mature, with real ideas. Something that knew animation that didn’t have to be for kids. Finally, the promise of Invasion America would be fulfilled! And it came out and I loved it. I watched the VHS several times, but I haven’t seen it at all over the past dozen years. Turns out it’s not that good. Spoilers.
GUNS! PUNCHES! BUTTS! THE SONG STYLINGS OF LIT! IT’S TITAN AE!
In 1994, Disney released a direct-to-video movie called The Return of Jafar. This was a sequel to Aladdin, and was made not by Walt Disney Feature Animation (as it was then known), but by Walt Disney Television Animation. WDTVA, or DisneyToon, as they came to be known, had previously made a Duck Tales movie in 1990, but this was their first film produced directly for the home video market, and the first sequel to one of their modern animated classics. Another Aladdin movie followed, then a couple for Beauty and the Beast, then the Lion King, Pocahontas and more. By 1999, they had set up quite a little cottage industry of VHS cheapies. And that’s an industry Fox wanted to be a part of. So, armed with a fairly popular supporting character from a recent hit, the studio set Bluth and Goldman to making something profitable, and if it was watchable, hey, bonus.
GOOD CASTING! OKAY WRITING! PASSABLE MUSIC! ACCEPTABLE ANIMATION! ALSO SOME TERRIBLE ANIMATION! IT’S BARTOK THE MAGNIFICENT!