The Lion King 1 1/2 DVD Review

Cover Art and Menu: 7/10
The cover art is Disney, kind of funny, but just plain old animation tomfoolery…whatever that is. The menu is pretty good however. I like the silly animated bits and pieces. I appreciate the effort that whoever went to when they made this a whole DVD package. I don’t really like the annoying trailers that play automatically when you put the DVD in though. I would like to cause great discomfort to the sleazy Disney executive who made that decision. Other than that, the look and design of the DVD art and overall packaging is good. There is a hard slip on cover that the DVD box slides into, which is nice, but not necessary. I would like to see a few dollars knocked off the price instead of having that little extra box, but that’s just me.

Extras & Features: 8/10
Let me start by saying these are some of the best extras I’ve seen on a movie in the kid category. These are quality features that kids can actually enjoy, not just insanely boring, half-assed games that only work on the PC. Almost everything is accessible via the DVD player on your TV. There is some DVD ROM content, but I don’tThey are not fantastic in terms of DVD offerings, but I have to give credit where credit is due and they did put more effort into this DVD than one would imagine for a straight to video/DVD movie. (pats Disney on the back)

  • Deleted Scenes – A few scenes that were either not made, but storyboarded, or just did not make the final cut. They are introduced by a couple of Disney dudes, and are presented with a touch of the same style the movie is done in. I love storyboard artwork, so these are a great bonus for folks like me who dig drawing and artsy stuff like that.
  • Timon: Behind The Legend – Hosted by Mr. Original Mission Impossible himself, this is just a funny “True Hollywood Stories” type take off that is basically for a few laughs.
  • Hidden Mickey Hunt – This is a cool feature that adds even more life to an allready excellent movie. Once you have watched it the first time, go back and watch it with this feature turned on, or not and try to find the hidden, or not so hidden, images of Mickey Mouse. There are 20 images of him throughout the film and if you want to go it alone you might be pausing a lot to find them. If you choose this feature you will get a little hint that flashes for a couple of seconds in the area where Mickey’s head will appear in some form or another. Could this be something that came from the original controversial myth of the hidden image of the word “sex” that ruffled a few feathers so many years ago? Hmmm, I wonder.
  • Before the Beginning: The Making of The Lion King 1½ – This is a pretty lengthy segment that includes interviews with different people involved with the production from artists to animators, to computer graphics gurus. It’s a light hearted behind the scenes that I’m sure found its way to the Disney channel at some point.
  • “Grazing in the Grass” music video starring Raven – Sorry, but this is a piece of crap. No offense to anyone who loves kid pop music videos, but I’m not a fan of jiggling teens in front of cheap sets singing torturously horrible songs. Call me crazy.
  • Timon & Pumbaa’s Virtual Safari 1.5 – Now this is pretty darn fun. I have to admit it, I was skeptical, but as soon as the “ride” started, I was won over by the same kind of comedy that drips from this movie. It’s a really funny little ride through a virtual jungle amusement park ride that Timon and Pumbaa have built. They are giving their friends and family a ride and it’s so funny.  You see a touch of The Pirates of the Carribbean, some crazy roller coaster action, and a few choices you can make the change the ride a few times if you choose to take it more than once.
  • Find the Face game – A silloutte comes up in front of a movie screen and you have to guess which Disney character it is. I have to say, this is not very challenging for anyone who has spent their entire life looking at Disney images. But, if you are looking for a challenge and if you have lived under rock since the mid 1950’s you might find some real brain stimulation here. Keep hope alive!
  • Who Wants To Be King of the Jungle? – A full blown mini-Who Wants To Be a Millionaire game with lots of questions. It’s kind of cheap, but hey, it’s a DVD extra, not a stand alone game. For the record, between a 35, 36 and 18 year old, we won the 100 pounds of grubs..thank you, thank you very much…(takes bow)

The Movie: 8/10
A pre-post-semi sequel is the new hybrid that Disney has invented with Lion King 1 1/2. I have seen both The Lion King and Lion King II, and I loved them both. Yes, I’m a fan of animated feature length flicks, are you ok with that? I can hold my head up high as an adult with an appreciation for “kid movies” because at the heart of any good movie is a good story and The Lion King “trilogy” has got a great story. It’s classic storybook stuff, but it’s got a bit of an edge. The writing is often hysterical, sometimes touching, but mostly just plain entertaining.

Nathan Lane is a funny funny man, and his voice acting is custom made for his role as Timon. The writers are adults who know what it’s like to watch a kid movie. It can be painfully mind numbing, to say the least. Thankfully in the past few years we have the good fortune to have movies that go beyond what traditionally would be ignored by the grown ups of the world. The Lion King 1 1/2 has so many funny moments I can’t describe them all. What I can tell you is that this is not your usual cartoon movie. There are a few elements that make it stand out and make me seriously wonder why in the heck Disney did not release this little beauty in theaters. I am afraid people will dismiss it because it was straight to video/DVD and that is really a shame. It’s well worth a watch by the whole family, even you single guys and gals out there should watch it. Kick off your shoes and have a laugh, it won’t kill ya.

Julie Kavner (Marge Simpson) as Timon’s mom is excellent, as always. She adds so much to a character. She brings a certain sympathetic but hysterical voice to the already well written mother of a troubled but ambitious little mearcat. One thing that makes an animated film more intriguing to me, and more entertaining is top quality voice acting. I’m not saying you need already famous people in the parts because we recognize their voices, but to have really good performers who know how to bring a character to life by using their voice talents makes for a more believable, more fluid experience. We have all seen animated movies or TV shows that lack that certain something that keeps them from being better than they end up being, and I think it comes down to one of two things, the writing and the voice acting. Lion King 1 1/2 gets a gold star in both categories, especially the voice department. Without the amazingly funny and engaging characters they create the good writing wouldn’t even come across as strongly as it does.

This is the telling of Timon’s life story as well as how he and Pumbaa REALLY saved the day in The Lion King, but behind the scenes. The original movie is woven throughout the story, but scenes are now from a new perspective and from literally new angles as our gassy heroes take us on a journey of how they came to be part of the now infamous circle of life. We start by seeing Timon and Pumbaa watching The Lion King. Timon tries to fast forward to the part where they come in but Pumbaa wants to see the whole story. Timon then takes it upon himself to go all the way back, rewinding the movie past the beginning credits and away from Pride Rock to his corner of the African territory. The world of mearcats is portrayed as somewhat boring, fearful, hidden. Timon took it upon himself to break free from the monotony of digging tunnels to keep safely away from the vicious hyenas and sets out on his own. Along the way he meets Pumbaa and some of our other favorites, and the rest, as they say, is history.

It’s a clever way to put a new slant on an aging favorite. I love the comedy. I love the art of the movie. The characters are all solid, whole characters that you care about and are interested in while they occupy the screen. That’s saying a lot for a feature length animated film. Even my husband (dare I say this in public) watched it twice he thought it was so funny.

I can’t say enough about how this little movie is not just for kids. Yes, its animation. Yes, it’s got some heart warming moments…so what? Give your hard core grown-up-ness a rest for a while and have some fun. The Lion King is a classic and this is not just a tagged on extension of that story, it’s MORE of the same story done with a bit more irreverent humor and a lot less sentimentality.

Don’t be fooled by the colorful kid facade, you don’t have to sneak it past your tattooed friends or your drinking buddies. You don’t have to hope the other soccer mom’s don’t catch you watching it on your own. You can be a proud adult who happens to like good fart jokes, funny dialogue, fantastic voice acting, beautiful animation, not to mention a good story. Did I mention fart jokes? Oh yea, there are a few of these scattered here and there, but it’s all in context and is a valid tool to move the plot along with grace and style, or something like that. They’re fart jokes OK…’nuff said.

There are a lot of clever moments like when Simba is little and he wakes Timon up several nights in a row because he “has to GO”..and we all know what that means. After several trips across the same log from The Lion King, the one that shows Simba going from a little lion cub to a grown up lion, Timon says, “I’m gonna get old crossing this thing.” Attention to detail, I like that.

Over all this is a top quality movie that is not just a straight to DVD kind of event. I wish it had been in theaters, but that’s how the cookie crumbles sometimes I suppose. Don’t over look this one if you are wanting a few laughs and a new twist on a modern favorite, you will not be disappointed.

Value: 5/10
Disney is Disney. That’s all I can say. I don’t want to give them $20 more dollars of my money for any movie. They have had my whole life to make money off of me, I would like a punch card or frequent buyer’s club membership if I could please. Oh well, I suppose a pizza is around $15 and that only lasts for one meal. This is a real classic that you need in your Lion King collection and it will last many years. A fair investment even if I would like to see Disney offer up their kid flicks for less.

Overall Score 8/10