The Lion King 1½ (also titled as The Lion King 3: Hakuna Matata in some countries) is a 2004 American/Australian direct-to-video animated musical comedy-adventure film released by Walt Disney Home Entertainment on February 10, 2004. The DVD went to the Disney Vault in January 2005. The film is a prequel/parallel/midquel to 1994's The Lion King and focuses on the meerkat/warthog duo Timon and Pumbaa before, during and after the events of the original film. The film, setup as a frame story, starts out playing the very beginning of the original film. Timon and Pumbaa are shown in silhouette commenting on the movie being shown before them, in a style similar to that of Mystery Science Theater 3000.
While the original film, The Lion King, is based on Hamlet, this film is based on the Tom Stoppard play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, in which the titular characters are seen in every major event of Hamlet.
Reviews were generally favorable reviews from critics and audiences.
The Lion King 1½ is the untold story of how Timon and Pumbaa met each other and helped Simba achieve his goal.
The film starts as Timon and Pumbaa are shown watching the opening act of the original movie in a dark theater when Timon suddenly uses a remote control to fast-forward to where they do appear in the film. Pumbaa argues that the film shouldn't go out of order and attempts to rewind the film back to the very beginning. Timon and Pumbaa start fighting over the control of the film until they agree that the film should tell their side of the story. Throughout the rest of the film, it is occasionally interrupted to have Timon and Pumbaa comment on whatever is happening. Mystery Science Theater 3000-like moments occur as the characters comment on the original film's proceedings.
At Timon's meerkat colony far, far away from Pride Rock, Timon takes jobs as a digger and a sentry, but despite his mother Ma's encouragement, he cannot seem to find a good job for himself, as he seems to do more harm than good, such as collapsing his tunnels while attempting to create a skylight. After his Uncle Max is nearly eaten by Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed on his watch, Timon decides to leave the meerkat colony and find a place that is right for him. He is soon encouraged by a baboon named Rafiki to seek Hakuna Matata and to look beyond what he sees and has the intuition to head for Pride Rock. Along the way there, Timon and Pumbaa meet for the first time and set out to find a "dream home."
The adventures of Timon and Pumbaa begin to coincide with the events of The Lion King at this point. They arrive at the Pride Rock, but to their dismay, a herd of animals is already there. While Timon and Pumbaa trudge through the herd of animals witnessing the presentation of the newborn prince Simba, Pumbaa accidentally flatlets, which causes a few animals to pass out and collapse. The animals in front see this and believe that the fallen animals are bowing, and soon the whole entire herd has bowed. Simba's father, King Mufasa, was very puzzled at seeing this, but his majordomo Zazu tells him that they were bowing to Simba.
Timon and Pumbaa continue their journey and find their new home at a watering hole that looks like a miniature version of Pride Rock not too far from the real Pride Rock. One morning, they are disturbed by a loud noise from outside, which is actually Simba, his friend Nala, and many other animals singing "I Just Can't Wait to Be King" to evade Zazu and sneak into the Elephant Graveyard. With him not wanting to have any disruptions of any kind at his dream home, he ventures outside and whacks the leg of an elephant supporting the tower of animals. The elephant jumps in surprise and causes the tower to collapse, explaining why it collapsed in the original film.
Timon and Pumbaa's home was easily ruined by this event. Pumbaa tells Timon about a "dream home" in the jungle, but Timon ignores him. They both travel to the elephant graveyard and witness Mufasa and Zazu saving the cubs from the hyenas. That night, going further into the graveyard, they watch an army of hyenas marching to the instrumental opening of "Be Prepared", and the duo silently escapes undetected. Later, they end up in the gorge only to encounter a wildebeest stampede, the same stampede from the original film in which Simba loses his father. While trying to run from the wildebeests, they both fall down a waterfall, which leads to the "dream home" that Pumbaa had described. The song "Hakuna Matata" is turned into a absolutely-karaoke sing-along, showing the duo's various antics and shenanigans living under their newfound lifestyle. Timon and Pumbaa later find Simba, and the film shows some of their life in the jungle throughout the years, along with the hardships Timon faces raising the young prince.
As a young adult, Simba re-encounters Nala. Afraid of losing their friend and their "Hakuna Matata", Timon and Pumbaa try everything in their power to stop Simba and Nala from falling into love. Simba and Nala tumble down a hill in the original film when Timon and Pumbaa trip them with a vine. In the original film, Timon and Pumbaa reappear in a different place at the end of the "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" sequence because they were running around trying to interfere with the lions during the song. Although they fail, they are happy to see Simba arguing with Nala and running off to the grasslands. They mistake Mufasa's spirit appearing in the clouds as bad weather, and head off back to their jungle to sleep. In the morning, however, they are told by Nala that Simba has returned home to challenge Scar. Pumbaa and Timon disagree about whether to go after Simba, but ultimately both decide to return to Pride Rock.
There, Timon re-encounters Ma and Uncle Max for the first time since he left the colony. Ma and Max make a system of tunnels to trap the hyenas while Timon and Pumbaa create a diversion, from spinning plates to doing the Can-Can, to breakdancing, and finally, to everybody's amazement, horror, and disgust, proposing to Shenzi. This diverts the hyenas long enough for the meerkats to complete and collapse the tunnel for the hyenas to fell through in time to meet and kill Scar after Simba defeated him.
After the war, Simba becomes the king, avenging Mufasa and Timon tells Ma that he finally found his place, but something is still missing: his family. Instead of Simba and Nala having a new cub in the end, Timon and Pumbaa return to their jungle paradise, bringing Timon's entire meerkat colony with them. The meerkats now have a safe, work-free place to call home, and Timon is hailed the hero.
When the film ends, in the dark theater, Pumbaa insists on watching the movie again. Timon protests until all of their friends from the movie come to watch it as well, soon joined by numerous other Disney cartoon characters. Timon reluctantly agrees to play the film again, and Pumbaa comments that he still does not actually "do so well in crowds."
Throughout the movie, there are times when Timon and Pumbaa interrupt the movie by messing with the controls or by commentary. Here is the list of interruptions:
- At the start of the movie, Timon and Pumbaa are watching the opening scene of the first movie. Timon sings his own lyrics at one point and Pemba says how the song always gets him in his heart. Timon then fast forwards the movie with a remote to where they sing Hakuna Matata with Simba since that’s the point where they come in. Pumbaa protests and uses his own remote to rewind the movie. An argument ensues with the movie being fast forwarded and rewinded back and forth about being at the start of the movie. They decide to tell the audience their story since they were there the whole time even though no one knew it. Timon rewinds the movie and takes them back to before the beginning.
- When the movie first cuts to Pride Rock, Timon and Pumbaa comment on its magnificence, but then Timon pauses the movie and questions on why it’s called Pride Rock. Pumbaa states that it’s because a pride is a group of lions. Timon then states that unlike the lions, his meerkat colony had nothing to be proud of. He then proceeds to show where he grew up. Timon unpauses the movie and right before the camera moves from Pride Rock to Timon’s homeland, he states “Please remain seated while the camera is in motion.”
- After the camera stops moving, Timon talks about his homeland and how low meerkats are on the food chain. He then says that he’ll let his colony do the talking.
- When the hyenas are chasing Uncle Max, a shopping channel comes on. Timon questions what’s going on, but then realizes that Pumbaa is sitting on the remote. Pumbaa apologizes since he thought it was a brownie and changes the channel back to the movie,
- When Timon leaves home, Timon in the theater comments on how excited he was to leave and to search for his home. But then after that the Timon in the movie starts crying.
- When Rafiki appears, Timon pauses the movie and comments on how convenient is was for an omniscient monkey to show up right on cue. Pumbaa tells Timon that they say, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears”. Timon tells him no more fortune cookies and resumes the movie.
- When Timon and Pumbaa scream at each other after seeing each other for the first time, the movie is paused and Pumbaa states that first impressions are very important. Timon states that he thought he was a scream.
- During the sunrise scene, Pumbaa in the theater says that they’re now at the beginning. Timon then comments on how bright things were looking up, and how he had a “great big fat guy” to protect him. Pumbaa pauses the movie and asks Timon if he really thinks he looks fat. Timon reassures him that it’s a compliment since he is a pig. Pumbaa thanks him and resumes the movie.
- During the scene where Timon and Pumbaa fall down the waterfall, Pumbaa pauses the movie and asks Timon if he doesn’t mind while he gets some grub. While Timon is waiting for Pumbaa, he starts picking his nose and starts mumbling the It’s a Small World After All song. When he hears Pumbaa’s footsteps, he tries to flick a booger out of his hands and rubs it on the back of his seat. Pumbaa arrives back with a shareable jumbo grub snack and notices Timon suddenly sitting still. He asks him if he was picking his nose. Timon claims that he had “an itch on the inside”, eats a grub, and resumes the movie.
- In the movie after Timon tells Pumbaa “and friends stick together until the end”, Timon in the theater starts sniffling. Pumbaa pauses the movie and notices that Timon is crying. Timon claims that he has something in his eye. Pumbaa hands Timon a tissue to blow his nose and is handed back the blown tissue. When Timon feels better, he resumes the movie.
- Right before the singing of Hakuna Matata, Pumbaa pauses the movie and says that they should do a sing a long, and Timon agrees. A ladybug appears to help with the lyrics. However after the first few lines, Timon notices the grub is missing. He pauses the movie and asks Pumbaa where it is. Pumbaa opens his mouth and the injured grub starts walking away. Timon asks Pumbaa to show a little more self control and resumes the sing a long.
- During the Bowling for Buzzards scene, Timon pauses the movie and questions why fate brought them to Simba that day, and thinking that maybe it was certain traits. Freeze frames are shown from the Lion King and when he was raising Simba of him being scared most of the time. Timon questions who is in charge of the freeze frames, which turn out to be Pumbaa. They put the movie back on and state that rescuing Simba was easy, but the scary part was parenthood.
- After Timon in the movie passes out from the snail slurping contest with Simba, Pumbaa in the theater comments on how the pupil surpasses the teacher. Timon in the theater questions if he’s been hanging around Rafiki,
- When Timon, Pumbaa, and adult Simba are sleeping together, Timon and Pumbaa in the theater comment on how they had a pretty good life and that they could have kept it going, except for one little thing that they forgot to count on.
- When Pumbaa and Timon hug in the desert on their way to pride rock, Timon pauses the movie and questions why Pumbaa was running so slow since before it appeared that Pumbaa was running in slow motion until Timon was seen running at normal speed. Pumbaa says that he wanted to give him time to catch up. They both hug it out and Timon resumes the movie.
- When the luau scene from the first movie is played, Timon pauses it a few seconds in and he and Pumbaa agree that they should cut to the chase. They resume the movie at when the hyenas chase them away.
- When the movie reaches the end, Pumbaa wants to watch it again. But Timon says that they just saw it and maybe they can do it tomorrow. Ma comes in and is surprised to find the two watching the movie since she wanted to watch it, too. Timon states that they just finished, but she takes a remote and begins rewinding the entire movie. She calls out to Uncle Max and tells him that they are watching the movie. Uncle Max joins in, then Simba and Rafiki also appear. Various Disney characters also appear in the theater, leaving Timon confused. After much hesitation, Timon allows the movie to start at the beginning. As the screen fades to black, Pumbaa states that he still doesn’t do so well in crowds.
- The film reveals the story of Timon's origin and how he and Pumbaa first met each other and became friends. However, a similar yet different story was originally revealed in the Timon & Pumbaa episode "Once Upon a Timon". This may indicate that Timon & Pumbaa (or just said episode) and The Lion King 1½ exist in different continuities from each other.
- Continuity issues: Aside from the previously mentioned contradiction with "Once Upon a Timon", the film contains a number of inconsistencies with the original film. Some of the listed inconsistencies may have explanations while others are straight up irreconcilable.
- Timon does not recognize Rafiki in the original film, yet this movie shows that he previously met, and learned Hakuna Matata from, Rafiki and recognized him all throughout his journey.
- This film shows that during Simba's presentation, all the animals in the back passed out due to Pumbaa's gas, making the animals in front mistakenly believe they are bowing and decide to bow themselves. However, in the original film, it is shown that none of the animals have passed out.
- Timon and Pumbaa find their first home on the day Simba was born and are woken up by "I Just Can't Wait to be King". It's possible that they stayed there for longer than it was shown, but unlikely considering their reactions making it clear that it's the next day. In addition, all the animals fall on top of each other, crushing Timon and Pumbaa's first home. However, in the original film, the animals run away, leaving Zazu trapped under a rhino.
- When an adult Simba and Nala recognize each other and rejoice over their reunion, Timon and Pumbaa are not in their original positions. In the first film, Pumbaa was still stuck under the tree root with Timon atop of it, whereas in this film, they are where they were when they started singing "Can You Feel the Love Tonight".
- This film shows Timon witnessing Simba and Nala's fight in which Simba storms off, making Timon rejoice over their separation. However, in the first film, when Nala asks Timon and Pumbaa if they've seen Simba, which happens after her fight with him, Timon replies that he thought Simba was with her.
- When Timon and Pumbaa start to follow Simba as he walks off after his fight with Nala, they immediately find Mufasa's ghost appearing before Simba. However, in the original film, it took length of minutes for that to happen since Simba had to meet Rafiki first, who helped Simba realize who he is.
- In this film, Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed chase Timon and Pumbaa into a cave after they hula dance, but in the original film, many hyenas are seen chasing them.
- When Simba confronts Scar at the top of Pride Rock in the original film, the hyenas are shown to have followed him to the top and watch Scar calling them the enemies, which results in them turning on him. However, this film shows the hyenas focusing their attention on Timon and Pumbaa while Simba confronts Scar at the top of Pride Rock. While it could be interpreted that the hyenas overheard Scar's betrayal before going after the duo, it is highly unlikely as the elapsed time seems too short for that.
- The French track on the DVD plays (in English) "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" during the end credits instead of "Grazing in the Grass" (performed by Raven) and "That's All I Need Reprise" (performed by Timon).
- Outside the USA, the sing-along lyrics are omitted, but there is still a ladybug bouncing on the screen, excluding the Arabic version, which has the Arabic lyrics featured with the ladybug bouncing on each word.
- The French track on the DVD plays a cover of Kool & the Gang's "Jungle Boogie" in place of the original. Unless otherwise noted, all other songs featured in the movie are sung in French.
- This is the first direct-to-video film released under The Disneytoon Studios label after Disney MovieToons/Disney Video Premiere split from Disney Television Animation, which was then known as Walt Disney Television Animation, to be owned by Walt Disney Animation Studios, which was then named Walt Disney Feature Animation, in January 2003 & then, renamed DisneyToon Studios in June of that year.
- This film is the last film in the The Lion King trilogy, but this isn't the last installment, as in 2015, Disney later released a television film titled The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar, followed by its tie-in television series.
- Nathan Lane as Timon
- Ernie Sabella as Pumbaa
- Julie Kavner as Ma
- Jerry Stiller as Uncle Max
- Matthew Broderick as Simba (both teenager and young adult)
- Matt Weinberg as Young Simba
- Robert Guillaume as Rafiki
- Moira Kelly as Nala
- Whoopi Goldberg as Shenzi
- Cheech Marin as Banzai
- Jim Cummings as Ed
- Edward Hibbert as Zazu
- Jason Rudofsky as Flinchy
- Mickey Mouse
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in order: Dopey, Bashful, Doc, Sneezy, Happy, Sleepy, and Grumpy from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
- Beast, Mrs. Potts, Chip, and Belle from Beauty and the Beast
- Lady and Tramp from Lady and the Tramp (Timon and Pumbaa also re-did their famous spaghetti kiss scene during "Hakuna Matata".)
- Hyacinth Hippo from Fantasia
- Genie, Aladdin, Jasmine, and Magic Carpet from Aladdin
- Stitch from Lilo & Stitch
- Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland
- Rabbit from The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
- Donald Duck
- Quasimodo, Hugo, Victor, and Laverne from The Hunchback of Notre Dame
- Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, and the Lost Boys from Peter Pan
- Pocahontas from Pocahontas
- Mowgli and Baloo from The Jungle Book
- Terk from Tarzan
- Dumbo from Dumbo
- Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather from Sleeping Beauty
- Br'er Bear from Song of the South
- Jeff Bennett as Bashful
- Tony Anselmo as Donald Duck
- Bill Farmer as Doc, Goofy and Sleepy
- Corey Burton as Grumpy
- Kevin Schon as Happy
- Shaun Fleming as Lost Boys
- Blayne Weaver as Peter Pan
- Bob Joles as Sneezy
- Carolyn Gardner as Snow White
- Chris Sanders as Stitch
There's a game on the 2-Disc DVD called "Find the Face", where other Disney characters appear including Sebastian and Ursula (The Little Mermaid), Gus and Cinderella (Cinderella), Bambi (Bambi), Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), Queen of Hearts (Alice in Wonderland), Kronk and Emperor Kuzco (The Emperor's New Groove), Gaston (Beauty and the Beast), Mushu (Mulan), Iago (Aladdin), Ichabod Crane (The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad), Robin Hood (Robin Hood), Panic and Pegasus (Hercules), Jiminy Cricket and Pinocchio (Pinocchio), and Arthur Pendragon (The Sword in the Stone).
Based on the 17 reviews from review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 76% approval rating, with an average rating of 6.4. The film has a more mixed rating of 61% in the RT community, with a score of 3.2/5.
In February 2004, more than 3 million copies of its VHS and DVD units were sold in its first days. In the same month, it was reported the film sold about 2.5 million out of 3.1 million DVD copies before its first weekend generating about $55 million in its first three days of release. A DVD boxed set of the three Lion King films (in two-disc Special Edition formats) was released on December 6, 2004. In January 2005, the film, along with the sequels, went back into moratorium.
The Lion King 1½ was first released on the Blu-ray in an eight-disc trilogy box set on October 4, 2011. It received its separate Blu-ray release on March 6, 2012. It was produced in two different packages, a 2-disc version with Blu-ray and DVD, and a DVD version. The 2012 release went back into moratorium on April 30, 2013. The film was re-released on DVD, Blu-ray combo pack, and digital on August 29, 2017.
The film soundtrack, The Lion King 1½: Songs From Timon and Pumbaa's Hilarious Adventure, was released to CD by Disney Records on February 10, 2004. It includes two songs from the original film, "That's All I Need" and "Hakuna Matata", re-performed by Nathan Lane who took over the role of voicing the character, Timon. The rest of the soundtrack includes various R&B tracks, including remakes of the Kool and the Gang classic "Jungle Boogie" by artist French, and two instrumental pieces from composer Don Harper. Ennio Morricone was the original composer of "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly".
- "Grazing in the Grass" (Raven-Symoné)
- "Digga Tunnah Dance" (Lebo M and Vinx)
- "That's All I Need" (Nathan Lane) (based on an unused song from the original film called "Warthog Rhapsody")
- "Hakuna Matata" (Nathan Lane, and Ernie Sabella)
- "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" (Lebo M)
- "Jungle Boogie"
- "Timon's Traveling Theme"
- "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly"
The following awards were won or. Nominated in order:
- 2005 Annie Award for
- "Best Home Entertainment Production" (Won)
- "Music in an Animated Feature Production" (Nominated)
- 2005 DVD Exclusive Awards:
- Best Animated Character Performance (Nathan Lane [voice] and Alexis Stadermann [animator]) for "Timon" (Won)
- Best Animated DVD Premiere Movie (Won)
- Best Director (of a DVD Premiere Movie) - Bradley Raymond (Won)
- Best Editing (of a DVD Premiere Movie) - Joyce Arrastia (Won)
- Best Screenplay (for a DVD Premiere Movie) - Tom Rogers (Won)
- 2005 Saturn Award
- "Best DVD Release" (Nominated)
- Main article: The Lion King 1½ (video game) A video game of the film was published by Disney Interactive (and distributed by THQ [Europe]) in 2003 for the Game Boy Advance, featuring Timon and Pumbaa as the playable characters.