Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

The Lion King 1 1/2

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
8 out of 10
Extras Rating:
9 out of 10
Movie Details:
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Rating: G

Starring:
Nathan Lane as Timon
Ernie Sabella as Pumbaa
Julie Kavner as Timon's Mom
Jerry Stiller as Timon's Uncle Max
Matthew Broderick as Simba
Shaun Flemming as Young Simba
Robert Guillaume as Rafiki
Moira Kelly as Nala
Whoopi Goldberg as Shenzi
Jim Cummings as Ed
Edward Hibbert as Zazu
Cheech Marin as Banzai

Special Features:
Deleted Scenes

Hidden Mickeys Treasure Hunt game

"Who Wants To Be King Of The Jungle?" trivia game

Timon & Pumbaa's Virtual Safari 1.5

"The Making Of The Lion King 1 1/2"

Timon: Beyond The Legend (Biography mockumentary)

"Grazing In The Grass" Music Video starring Raven

Find the Face game

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.66:1) Enhanced for 16x9 Televisions
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
DTS Digital Surround Sound
THX Certified
French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Running Time: 77 Minutes

Synopsis:
Timon and Pumbaa return in this prequel / sequel to The Lion King.

In this story, the two friends sit down and screen a movie detailing their origins and eventual roles in The Lion King. We meet up with Timon, his mother and Uncle Max in the meerkat colony. Timon proves to not be a very good meerkat. He can't tunnel and he's a terrible watchman. Wanting something more in life, Timon sets out on his own in search of a new home.

After Rafiki gives him some guidance, Timon continues his journey and runs into Pumbaa. Their friendship begins and they continue their quest for a new home. Along the way we see them wander through scenes in The Lion King in which you may not have spotted them before. From the opening scene of the movie to the musical scene "I Just Can't Wait To Be King" to the final battle, they're there in ways you never knew. We also see them inadvertently affecting events behind the scenes. The result is a look at The Lion King from a whole new perspective.

The Lion King 1 is rated G.

The Movie:
I must admit that when I first heard about The Lion King 1 , I didn't buy into the concept. Instead of revisiting an old Disney movie, why not create a whole new story? It seemed like a big waste of time. However, after viewing it, I was pleasantly surprised. It ends up being quit a bit of fun and a lighthearted new look at a movie I already loved. Like Back to the Future 2, the revisiting of old scenes at new angles offers up some really entertaining moments and makes you feel like you're enjoying more of the experience from the first movie.

If you haven't seen The Lion King, then there's not much point in watching The Lion King 1 . Most of the jokes depend on you knowing what went on in the first film. For example, Timon and Pumbaa wander into the opening scene of the movie where all the animals bow to Simba. We learn now that they weren't all actually bowing. Some of the animals keeled over when Pumbaa farted, thus causing all the other animals to bow. It's that kind of irreverent humor that makes its way through this entire sequel. Later on we see Timon cause the animals to fall in the "I Just Can't Wait To Be King" musical number. We also see the two wander into the musical number with the Nazi-like hyenas and Scar. This goes on through the whole movie.

However, The Lion King 1 doesn't entirely rely on jokes about the first movie to get by. It is filled with fun new characters like Timon's mother, played by The Simpsons Julie Kavner, and Uncle Max played by Jerry Stiller. There are tons of terrible puns that will make you groan. Commentary on the movie by the main characters is also pretty amusing. At the end look for cameos by most of the Disney animated characters.

The only new song in the movie is "Dig A Tunnah". It's a catchy little tune that fits the movie well. For the rest of the film, they borrow from the original soundtrack as well as the excellent "Rhythm Of The Pride Lands" CD. Listen for bits from "Warthog Raphsody" and "The Lion Sleeps Tonight".

The animation is actually very good. It's almost feature film quality. It's so good that I'm a little baffled as to why Disney didn't release this on the big screen instead of Teacher's Pet or Jungle Book 2. The Lion King 1 is a superior film in many ways. Not only that, but they managed to bring back the original voice cast including Nathan Lane, Ernie Sabella, Matthew Broderick, Whoopi Goldberg, Cheech Marin, and others.

The only drawback I saw in the movie was the time scale. It doesn't seem to really fit in with the timeline of The Lion King. However, that is nitpicking and it shouldn't affect your viewing pleasure.

The Extras:
This two disc set features a ton of extras:

Deleted Scenes The creators of the movie host 7 or so scenes cut from the film. They are shown in storyboard format. Some have the actor's voices while others have fill-in voices. One scene features an extra line from the song "Dig A Tunnah" about a meerkat that was too brave and got eaten. Another scene shows a whole sequence with Timon's dad (who was eventually cu from the film). Another scene shows the meerkats going to the ceremony for baby Simba. Other scenes show alternate openings for the movie before they went with the "Mystery Science Theater 3000" format. Overall they are a nice selection of deleted scenes and well worth checking out.

Hidden Mickeys Treasure Hunt game This is a pretty cool feature. It turns out that throughout the movie, the animators have hidden Mickey Mouse logos. If you spot them during the movie, you hit a button and at the end you are scored on how many you spot. There are 20 of them in The Lion King 1 .

"Who Wants To Be King Of The Jungle?" trivia game This is a Lion King version of Who Wants To Be A Millionare. Meredith Vieira hosts it and asks a series of trivia questions about the movie, as well as The Lion King and The Lion King 2. (If you haven't seen The Lion King 2, you have little hope of answering the questions correctly.) Timon is the contestant and you even have the life lines like on the real TV show. It's quite a clever and fun DVD extra.

Timon & Pumbaa's Virtual Safari 1.5 This is a feature exactly like the one on the Lion King Special Edition DVD. In it you take a ride through a 3-D environment with Timon, Pumbaa, Timon's mother, and Uncle Sam. You go through a poorly constructed amusement park ride put together by our heroes, then out into the Africa wilderness to face the dangers there. All this is done with amusing commentary from the characters. Along the way you select which direction you want to go, so you can get a different ride each time. Kids will enjoy it and adults will be amused by the animation and commentary.

"The Making Of The Lion King 1 1/2" This is your standard "Making Of" video. The highlights are interviews with Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella. They talk about recording the voices and the fun that they have with the characters. We also meet the animation crews in Los Angeles and Australia. It's a lighthearted featurette with a lot of humor from the director and producer. This video is 15 minutes long.

Timon: Beyond The Legend (Biography mockumentary) - Peter Graves hosts this 4 minute fake documentary about the life of Timon. With interviews from Uncle Max and Timon's mother, it's quite funny and ends abruptly when Graves realizes that Timon never did anything noteworthy in his past.

"Grazing In The Grass" Music Video starring Raven Former Cosby Kid turned pop star Raven sings this revamp of the 70's song. The video features a few clips from the movie but mostly the teen star doing dance moves.

Find the Face game In this game for the kiddies, you must identify the silhouettes of Disney characters that appear at the end of the movie.

The Bottom Line:
If you enjoyed The Lion King, then The Lion King 1 is required viewing. It's a fun movie that both adults and children will enjoy.

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