“The Lion King 1 1/2” takes all the events and
characters of the majestic Disney classic “The Lion
King,” switches the perspective and makes it more of a
comedy. Told through the view of wiry meerkat Timon (Nathan Lane)
and flatulent warthog Pumbaa (Ernie Sabella), the familiar story of
a lion named Simba spins an amusing take on a classic story.

Kate Green
Kate Green
Courtesy of Disney
Bring out the gimp.

The movie starts with a view of Timon’s roots as a clumsy
member of a tunnel-digging community. But Timon’s an unhappy
meerkat and at the advice of Rafiki, the wise, stick-wielding
baboon, he sets off to find a better life. Late one night, while
lost in a field, he meets the dull-witted Pumbaa and begins a
beautiful friendship. The rest of the story retells the end of the
original “Lion King,” but focus is now shifted to the
odd couple of the Pridelands.

“The Lion King 1 1/2” isn’t dazzlingly witty.
Its target audience is clearly the elementary school crowd and the
jokes match accordingly. Still, the story is familiar and many
scenes are entertaining. Simba grows up again, evil uncle Scar
bites the dust again and Timon and Pumbaa belt out “Hakuna
Matata” again (karaoke style this time). The comedy centers
mostly around the farting habits of Pumbaa, but with the movie
clocking in at a brisk 77 minutes, the
watch-the-warthog-cut-the-cheese shtick doesn’t have time to
grate on one’s nerves.

The vivid picture of the DVD creates a nice jungle environment,
with the crisp Disney animation style of the mid-’90s making
its reappearance. There’s not Pixar-level realism, but who
really wants to see a realistic warthog? Two sparse new songs from
Tim Rice and Elton John are featured on the soundtrack in Dolby
Digital, but the reprising of most of the original movie’s
soundtrack makes up for it.

The bonus disk is chock full of extras. The features include a
making-of featurette, seven deleted scenes and even a hidden Mickey
Mouse hunt. The highlight however, is “Who Wants to Be King
of the Jungle?” a knockoff of “Who Wants to Be a
Millionaire?” This version features the familiar lifelines
with a jungle twist. There’s 50:50, Poll the Herd and Phone
An Animal.

With the reprisal of old favorites and just enough new material
to keep you interested, “The Lion King 1 1/2” produces
some fine Disney entertainment. It’s nowhere near the
grandeur of its predecessor, but it’s still a good choice for
a fun night of entertainment.

Movie: 2 1/2 stars

Picture/Sound: 3 stars

Features: 4 stars

All ratings out of 5 stars.

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