The Lion King 1½ (2004)

Although The Lion King II: Simba's Pride was pretty bad, as direct-to-video sequels usually are, when I learnt about the existence of The Lion King 1½ (which is wrongfully called The Lion King 3 in Italy. It's translated in Italian, of course) I knew I would end up watching it.

Set after the events of the original movie but before the first sequel, The Lion King 1½ follows Timon (voiced by Nathan Lane) and Pumbaa (voiced by Ernie Sabella) as they watch the original movie in a theater. Timon wants to fast-forward to when they come in, but Pumba suggests to tell the audience their story and so we learn about Timon's unhappy life in the meerkat colony, how the Hakuna Matata originated, how the two met, and their lives together before and before they met Simba (voiced by Matthew Broderick).

It's a decent idea for an unneeded sequel, I have to admit. The problem is that the execution of the plot leaves a lot to be desired. First, it's never clear whether it is supposed to be a parody of the first film or a serious backstory. Second, there are too many plot holes and continuity errors between this and the original film. Third, while Timon's backstory isn't terrible, the overall plot just isn't that interesting.

At least, The Lion King 1½ has something The Lion King II: Simba's Pride didn't have, nice characters. Both Timon and Pumbaa are likeable, lovable and funny almost as they were in the original film, and the new entries, specifically Timon's mother (voiced by Marge Simpsons' Julie Kavner) and Uncle Max (voiced by Jerry Stiller), are very likeable.

Walt Disney Home Entertainment
This film though has a huge problem, the comedy. Timon and Pumbaa are the only of humour in the film and, as I mentioned above, they aren't as funny as they were in the original film. There's a lot of toilet humour, which really surprised me since this is a Disney movie, and not only doesn't work, but it also makes the film cheap rather than light, which I guess is what the filmmakers were aiming for.

The animation, on the other hand, takes a step forward. Unlike the cheap-looking The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, The Lion King 1½ looks pretty good with its mixture of traditional and computer-generated animation.

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