The Lion King 1½ (also known as The Lion King 3: Hakuna Matata in some countries) is a 2004 American direct-to-video animated film that was released by Buena Vista Home Entertainment on February 10, 2004. The film is the third installment of the Lion King series. The DVD went to the Disney Vault in January 2005. The film is a prequel/parallel film to the 1994 Disney animated film The Lion King as it focuses on the meerkat/warthog duo, Timon and Pumbaa before and during 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 nearly identical to that of Mystery Science Theater 3000.
The film starts as Timon and Pumbaa are shown watching the opening act of the original film in a dark theater when Timon suddenly uses a remote control to fast forward to where they appear in the film. Pumbaa argues that the film shouldn't go out of order and attempts to rewind the film back to the beginning. Timon and Pumbaa start fighting over 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. When the film ends, in a theater, Pumbaa insists on watching it again. Timon protests until all their friends and almost every Disney character come to watch it too (with Pumbaa commenting that he still does not "do so well in crowds").
The original cast returns to re-voice the parts, with the exceptions of Rowan Atkinson, who voiced Zazu in the original film and was again replaced by Edward Hibbert who voiced the character in The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, and James Earl Jones, who voiced Mufasa (who has no lines in this installment of the series). Also, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, who voiced Young Simba in the original film, is replaced by Matt Weinberg.
While the original film, The Lion King, was compared to Hamlet, this film might have been inspired by the Tom Stoppard play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, in which the titular characters are seen in every major event of Hamlet. The Lion King 1½ was released on Blu-ray in The Lion King trilogy box set on October 4, 2011, and is scheduled for an individual Blu-Ray release on March 6, 2012.
The film is told through the perspectives of Timon and Pumbaa who watch their side of The Lion King in a cinema, occasionally stopping the footage to talk with one another. Timon shows Pumbaa his backstory, revealing him to be an outcast in his meerkat colony on the outskirts of the Pridelands. While supported by his mother Ma, Timon wished for more in life and left the colony after his Uncle Max is nearly eaten by hyenas Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed. He meets the mandrill, Rafiki, who advises him to find his place in the world via "Hakuna Matata". Timon wanders through some long grass upon deciding to venture to Pride Rock, meeting Pumbaa for the first time and they become friends very quickly.
The pair arrive at Pride Rock during Simba's presentation to the Pridelands' animals. However, Pumbaa informs Timon that he gets anxious in crowds and passes gas explosively that knocks some of the animals out, making the rest of the animals think that their keeling before the king. Mufasa sees this and is very puzzled. Timon and Pumbaa look for several other places to live, like the water hole but are forced to move out after being disturbed by Simba's singing. They eventually get caught in the wildebeest stampede that takes the life of Mufasa, but they survive, and find a vast jungle which they decide to make their home. Timon learns of Pumbaa's own philosophy of Hakuna Matata, embracing it to his fullest. However, the two later find Simba in the desert, and raise him as their own despite the negative effects of Hakuna Matata.
Years on, Nala appears after chasing Pumbaa and reunites with the adult Simba. Timon and Pumbaa attempt to prevent the two lions from getting together, but ultimately fail in their plan. Timon spots Simba running away after his off-screen argument with Nala and laughs it off, Pumbaa feeling guilty. Later, Nala confronts the duo and explains to them why Simba ran off then goes to follow Simba herself. Pumbaa argues with Timon, who selfishly declares he has everything he wanted in the jungle but eventually leaves. Rafiki appears to Timon and reminds him that his Hakuna Matata is not a home but friendship, prompting Timon to go after his friends and help them.
At Pride Rock, Timon and Pumbaa evade the hyenas but run into Ma and Uncle Max, who came looking for Timon. Wanting to help Simba, Timon proposes that they get rid of the hyenas by using tunnels. Whilst Simba fights Scar and Ma and Uncle Max construct a series of tunnels beneath them, Timon and Pumbaa use various tactics to distract the hyenas, including the "Hula Dance", which Timon decides to skip. When the tunnels are done, they quickly knock down the sticks that kept the tunnels from caving in, but the plan fails when the last few do not fall. Now cornered once again by the hyenas, Timon dives underground and quickly hurries and breaks the remaining sticks, saving his family and Pride Rock. After defeating Scar, Simba accepts his place as king of the Pridelands, thanking Timon and Pumbaa for helping him. Timon takes Ma, Uncle Max and the meerkat colony to live in the jungle, realizing his true Hakuna Matata is family. At the end of the film, an army of silhouetted Disney characters join Timon and Pumbaa to re-watch the film in the cinema, but Pumbaa informs Timon he still grows anxious in crowds.
- Nathan Lane as Timon - a meerkat who is Pumbaa's best friend. Though somewhat self-centered, selfish, and distracted, Timon shows strong loyalty towards his friends.
- Ernie Sabella as Pumbaa - a warthog who is Timon's best friend. Though slow-witted, he is very empathic and ready to trust and befriend anyone. He is also claustrophobic and passes gas in crowds.
- Matthew Broderick as Simba - Mufasa and Sarabi's son, Scar's nephew, Nala's husband and the current King of the Pride Lands. Joseph Williams provides Simba's singing voice. Jonathan Taylor Thomas plays the younger Simba, with Jason Weaver providing his singing voice.
- Julie Kavner as Ma - Timon's supportive mother. She is quite protective and attached to her son, often trying to get him accepted amongst the colony (and never succeeding).
- Jerry Stiller as Uncle Max - Timon's uncle.
- Cheech Marin as Banzai - A male hyena who helps Scar become king.
- Whoopi Goldberg as Shenzi - The female leader of the hyena trio who helps Scar become king.
- Jim Cummings as Ed - Another male hyena who helps Scar become king. Instead of talking like Shenzi and Banzai, he communicates through laughter.
- Robert Guillaume as Rafiki - A mandrill who taught Timon about Hakuna Matata.
- Matt Weinberg as Young Simba - A young lion cub who leaves his home at Pride Rock after believing that he killed his father Mufasa and becomes Timon and Pumbaa's ward.
- Matthew Broderick as Adult Simba - Simba's older self who returns to Pride Rock to reclaim his place as The Lion King.
- Moira Kelly as Nala - Simba's childhood friend.
- Edward Hibbert as Zazu - A hornbill and the loyal adviser of The Lion King.
The soundtrack, The Lion King 1½: Songs From Timon and Pumbaa's Hilarious Adventure, was released on CD by Disney Records on February 10, 2004. The CD includes two songs that are featured in the film, "That's All I Need" and "Hakuna Matata". The rest of the soundtrack features songs from various R&B tracks, such as the remake of Kool and the Gang's classic, "Jungle Boogie", re-preformed by The French, and two instrumental pieces from film composer Don Harper. Ennio Morricone composed the song "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 unused song from original film called "Warthog Rhapsody")
- "Hakuna Matata" (Lane, and Ernie Sabella)
- "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" (Lebo M)
- "Jungle Boogie"
- "Timon's Traveling Theme"
- "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly"
The film has won and has been nominated for awards.
- 2005 Annie Award:
- "Best Home Entertainment Production" (Won)
- "Music in an Animated Feature Production" (Nominated)
- 2005 DVD Exclusive Awards in the following categories:
- Best Animated Character Performance (Nathan Lane- voice, 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)
A video game of the film was published in 2003 for the Game Boy Advance. The game features Timon and Pumbaa as the playable characters.