Caught both figuratively and literally between the original film and its sequel, The Lion King 1 & 1/2 is an exciting look at what happens to favorite characters Timon and Pumbaa before and during the events in the original movie. Considering their popularity, it was only natural that a sequel and animated series starring Timon and Pumbaa would be released. But after the two fan favorites left television, Disney decided to take things a step further by revisiting the original film by splicing in even more footage of them. The result is a strange experiment that creatively fleshes out key scenes that’s also one of the better Disney direct-to-video efforts. It’s finally available on Blu-ray
Here we’re introduced to Timon, his mom (played to hilarious perfection by Julie Kavner of The Simpsons) and his Uncle Max (Jerry Stiller) in their meerkat colony. It’s pretty obvious at the beginning that Timon isn’t the best meerkat out there, as he can’t tunnel well and he’s a terrible at looking out for the colony. He realizes this kind of life isn’t for him and soon sets out to find his own way in the wild. It’s out in the wild that he bumps into the loveable warthog Pumbaa, and the two quickly form a great friendship as they set out to find a new home for themselves.
Along their journey they end up making their way into key scenes from the The Lion King, such as Pumbaa passing gas at the opening scene that makes some of the animals bow before Simba being raised in the air, to showing up during the “I Can’t Wait To Be King” musical number, easily making for some pretty fun alternate takes of the first film that are both informative and funny.
The video transfer to Blu-ray is pretty amazing here. As it’s a more recent release (2004) the picture looks crisp and clean here, with details that are sharper than a lion’s tooth and vibrant colors that just look fantastic. The 5.1 DTS-HD sound mix is also amazing, as every song and hilarious piece of dialogue comes in crystal clear.
There’s even more fun to be had after the movie is over with the clever special features presented here. “The Making Of The Lion King 1 & 1/2” is a nice featurette is which the cast and crew talk about how the movie came together. It was nice to see voice actors Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella, who voice Timon and Pumbaa, go into detail on the fun they had doing the voices. “Timon: Beyond The Legend” has the late Peter Graves giving a fake A&E-like documentary about the life of Timon, which includes interviews from his Uncle Max and his mother. “Grazing In The Grass” is a nice music video of Raven-Symoné singing a revamp of the 70’s hit.
Rounding out the special features are plenty of games that parents and kids are sure to enjoy such as “Hidden Mickeys Treasure Hunt game” in which you have to find hidden Mickey Mouse logos throughout the movie, “Who Wants To Be King Of The Jungle?” is a trivia game that pokes at Who Wants To Be A Millionare, and “Timon & Pumbaa’s Virtual Safari” where you can take a virtual 3-D ride with Timon, Pumbaa, Timon’s mother and his Uncle through a poorly constructed amusement park ride that eventually leads out into the African wilderness where they run into all sorts of dangers.
The Lion King 1 & 1/2 is a hilarious alternate view on the classic original film that’s sure to have you roaring with laughter and then some. Favorite characters Timon and Pumbaa are the stars here, giving us a peak at what happens during key scenes from the original blockbuster, guaranteeing that you’ll never look at it the same way again. The 2004 direct-to-video release gets the full high-definition treatment here a stunning transfer and plenty of features to make this version the king of the jungle. While it helps to be familiar with the franchise to fully appreciate it, families and fans looking for a great addition to their Blu-ray collection needn’t look much further that this strange, yet irresistible animation experiment, as it promises to leave your spirits lifted higher than Pride Rock.
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Walt Disney Video