* THE RETURN OF JAFAR - This direct-to-video Disney product never saw the inside of a theater. It aims to cash in on the huge success of ``Aladdin,'' the highest-grossing animated film ever (not to mention a record 24 million videos and counting). ``Jafar'' cost a fraction of what was spent on ``Aladdin'' and took 12 months - versus years - to produce. The result has one-tenth the impact of its forbear.
It has songs, but nothing close to those by Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman in ``Aladdin.'' It has the same visual cast of characters, but the vocal energy of Robin Williams, as Genie, is sorely missed. (Dan Castellaneta, the voice of Homer Simpson on TV, does a fair sound-alike.) The animation looks like a Saturday-morning cartoon.
The plot isn't much better. After all, how do you reintroduce conflict when everything ended up happily ever after? ``Aladdin'' meanie Jafar, who was turned into a genie and stuffed into a lamp, reemerges from the Arabian sands bent on revenge.
Rent it if you must, but if the preview included on this video is any indication, save your money for ``The Lion King,'' the next fully animated Disney movie, due in theaters June 24. (Disney). * MRS. DOUBTFIRE - In this comedy based on Anne Fine's 1988 children's novel ``Alias Madame Doubtfire,'' Robin Williams stars as Daniel Hillard, a divorced man who disguises himself as a matronly British housekeeper in order to spend more time with his three children. The metamorphosis from dad to dame is cleverly handled and earned the movie an Oscar for best makeup. Sally Field is effective as Hillard's unsuspecting, spunky ex-wife, a decorator whose suave new client-suitor receives a chilly reception from her recently hired domestic. An eclectic soundtrack featuring Frank Sinatra and Aerosmith lends itself to many of the antics by Williams, who is convincing as both father and nanny. Although humorous, the film avoids trivializing the impacts of divorce, and thoughtfully resolves the challenges faced by this quirky family. (Fox Video).