The following is a copy of Disney's official production notes for "The Lion King 1 1/2" (sans the promotional and congratulatory cast and filmmaker bios at the end.) This makes for very interesting reading for any Disney fan, Lion King nut or not, because it goes into detail on the production process for a direct-to-video feature. While of course being self-congratulatory to a certian degree, a lot of what is quoted from the filmmakers shows a degree of respect to the original film and a determination to continue it on that level that is (seemingly) extremely rare in direct-to-video product. It gives us an interesting, rare look behind the scenes of a DTV project, which is not often doccumented on film or in writing (in favor of kiddie extras on the discs) and it makes you look at the animators who do this product with a respect that you may not otherwise have for them because of the projects they are usually stuck working on (sequels to Walt films that tarnish his legacy, and sequels to modern films that add nothing to the franchise.) It also makes me feel renewed confidence that The Lion King 1 1/2 is a quality, worthy successor to The Lion King and grateful to to these people for handeling it the way they did, with the upmost respect and reverance to the original film.
Not to mention it took probably at least an hour to reformat this after I copied it out of Disney's .PDF version of the file. So please read. I think you'll be glad you did.
<b>WARNING: The production notes contain some slight spoilers</b>.
The legacy of Disney’s “The Lion King” continues with “The Lion King 1 1/2,” an uproarious, all-new original film. Reuniting virtually all the original voice cast and featuring music from Tim Rice and Elton John and Lebo M, “The Lion King 1 1/2” takes us behind-the scenes of the 1994 box office blockbuster when Timon and Pumbaa take the reins of the remote control and rewind the film to offer a hilarious new perspective on the action.
Cherished by children and adults around the globe, the two-time Academy Award®* and Golden Globe™ award-winning film “The Lion King” follows the adventure-filled journey of Simba, a heroic young lion struggling to find his place in nature's “circle of life” and follow in the regal paw prints of his father, the great King Mufasa. Simba eventually flees into exile where he is befriended by a wacky but warm-hearted warthog named Pumbaa and his free-wheeling meerkat companion, Timon.
The second chapter of the story, “The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride” reveals the fun-filled story of Simba’s daughter, Kiara, and Scar’s hand picked successor, Kovu, who forge a forbidden bond of friendship that later blossoms into love, honor and trust. The animated sequel premiered with enormous success on video in 1998 and today remains the No. 1 selling direct to video movie of all time.
Now, Walt Disney Home Entertainment and DisneyToon Studios are proud to present “The Lion King 1 1/2,” which provides a lighthearted but essential addition to the saga. Return to the Pride Lands to discover the back story of nature’s odd couple--how they met and became friends, their behind-the-scenes influence on Simba’s rise to the throne, and the secrets the blockbuster original didn’t tell you (like how Pumbaa’s infamous odor problem caused one of “The Lion King’s” most memorable scenes.)
Running parallel to “The Lion King,” yet completely original, our tale begins among the meerkat community as we learn why Timon (voiced by Emmy and Tony Award winning actor Nathan Lane) left his friends and family to search for his place in life. After such mishaps as breaking into song during meerkat sentry duty and an ill-fated attempt at a tunnel ‘skylight,’ Timon realizes the meerkat life of “scurry, sniff, flinch” and digging tunnels isn’t for him. “All we do is hide so we can dig and dig so we can hide!” he laments.
Along the way, Timon befriends the pungent warthog, Pumbaa (voiced by Ernie Sabella), and together they discover their perfect oasis. The duo explores the abundant treasures of their new paradise, living the good life while blissfully unaware of the dramatic events taking place around them at Pride Rock.
But after finding Simba astray from his pride, Timon and Pumbaa become nurturing caretakers to the young cub. As the little family grows, we learn of the hijinks that transpired during the original film’s “Hakuna Matata” musical number. Ultimately, however, Timon and Pumbaa’s friendship with Simba reveals the limits of the easy life, and they finally find that real Hakuna Matata happens only when they leave the oasis--and reunite with the ones they love.
Walt Disney Home Entertainment and DisneyToon Studios present “The Lion King 1 1/2,” directed by Bradley Raymond and produced by George Mendoza. Screenplay by Tom Rogers. Score by Don Harper. With the voice talents of Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane, Ernie Sabella, Whoopi Goldberg, Julie Kavner, Jerry Stiller, Robert Guillaume, Moira Kelly, Cheech Marin, Jim Cummings and Matt Weinberg.
With the unparalleled successes of “The Lion King,” and “The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride,” it was impossible to resist the temptation of creating another installment to “The Lion King” franchise. And it was director Brad Raymond who would take the existing premise to the next level, developing it into the charming story it has become. Sharon Morrill, xecutive vice president of DisneyToon Studios, notes, “we knew we had a lot to live up to with the success of ‘Simba’s Pride,’ not to mention the scope and success of the original film. When it came time to hire a director, we needed someone with experience and creativity and, just as importantly, someone who could combine grandeur with humor. We got that with Brad.”
Though the rough idea was already in place when Raymond came on board the project, he made a few tweaks to the storyline. “Originally, meerkats and warthogs lived in the same neighborhood, and that’s where Timon and Pumbaa met,” he explains. “I thought it would be better if they had different backgrounds. It gave us somewhere to go." This change also helped establish one of the central contrasts of the film, continues the director: "Timon wants to escape society, while Pumbaa wants to integrate into it."
Raymond then added producer George Mendoza to his team. The two filmmakers had their work cut out for them: create a worthy follow-up to a box office blockbuster beloved by children and adults around the world.
"It was a little bit nerve-racking at the beginning, but it was exciting," says Denver native Raymond, embarking on his fourth directing job for a Disney animated film. "The premise was a lot of fun, so we all embraced that. That's where we started, and everybody was on the same page from the beginning."
Although the story is set within the framework of the first "The Lion King," the director points out, "It's really an original movie." Raymond was pleased and reassured to see that many of the men and women who had worked on the original "The Lion King" were on board for this film. "I was lucky, because the studio gave me a lot of support and brought in tons of great people. Roger Allers, who co-directed the original, and Irene Mecchi, who was one of the writers on the original, came in to help consult. We had plenty of time and great talent to put together this project.”
In addition to veterans from the original film, Raymond brought in a new team of talented artists whom he credits with giving the film an updated new look and pace. "Our art director James Gallego was able to capture the look of the original film. He spent countless hours studying the original, but also brought his own artistic perspective to our movie.
"And Editor Joyce Arrastia really worked magic in the edit bay. "'The Lion King 1 1/2' is unique because we cut from silhouettes of Timon and Pumbaa -- to scenes from the original -- then back to new scenes. Joyce was able to edit the film so that the audience could follow the story while keeping the pacing fresh and exciting."
Both Raymond and Mendoza, while enthusiastic, were slightly awed by the stellar pedigree of their project. "Contributing to this movie is a golden opportunity, a dream come true," says Mendoza. "It's an opportunity for everybody involved--Brad, myself, and everybody else that was on the team. To be part of something that is so important is a once in a lifetime experience."
"It's such an honor," echoes Raymond.
The premise that was in place--following Timon as he breaks free from the meerkat clan and pairs up with Pumbaa, then following them both as they befriend Simba against the backdrop of the events of "The Lion King"-- brimmed with potential.
"It's a road show," adds George Mendoza. "It's 'The Lion King' from the perspective of Timon and Pumbaa, and what was happening behind-the-scenes from their point-of-view. It shows how they interacted within the sequences of the original movie.”
It's no secret to Nathan Lane why elements of the original film were used in this one. "Why fix it if it ain't broke! It's a funny take on the original film and seeing what was going on with Timon and Pumbaa at the time--which is very different from what was going on."
In the words of Cheech Marin, who voices the role of the hyena Banzai, "The Lion King 1 1/2" "expands the story from another perspective--Timon and Pumbaa's--and what they were doing during some of those scenes when they were off camera. So it becomes their story, but at the same time 'The Lion King,' the ever popular 'The Lion King,' is taking place."
Indeed, in this film, Timon and Pumbaa finally take their place in the spotlight. "The stars are Timon and Pumbaa," says Raymond. "They think they're the stars of the first movie. This is their chance to prove it."
The filmmakers realized they had only scratched the surface of the comedy goldmine that their colorful main characters could provide. "Timon is fun, he reminds me of Donald Duck," explains Brad
Raymond. "He takes things too seriously; he's self-aggrandizing; he cares what people think. He wants to be the one who has the idea, the one who is the leader. But he doesn't really earn it until later. He's a lovable, cranky character. Pumbaa is such a sweet, loving character. He's very childlike, but he knows throughout the story the true meaning of what they're trying to do--find a family. Their interaction is funny."
"It's been a long time coming for Timon and Pumbaa," says Mendoza. "You had to have the right situation and the right opportunity, and this is the right vehicle at the right time for them both. They're great characters. They play off of each other beautifully."
Nathan Lane agrees. "I think it's been a long time coming. It's about time that we saw the real story of 'The Lion King,' which is actually sort of the back story of Timon and Pumbaa and how they met. It shows what was happening with them and their lives while the plot of the 'The Lion King' was going on. It's sort of seen through their eyes. Actually, at times the two characters sit in a screening room and watch the film and make comments on it, sort of like Ebert and Roeper."
This technique, similar to that used on the now defunct TV show "Mystery Science Theater 3000," was a fresh way to frame the movie. "We discussed having it be a straight narration," explains George Mendoza, “but we liked this technique because we felt that the audience and the kids would feel like they were watching alongside Timon and Pumbaa."
The filmmakers couldn't ask for two more dynamic, comical characters to carry the film. "Timon and Pumbaa are special for many reasons," continues Mendoza. "They're funny, they have a great sense of personality and a good sense of humor. They show you how to support each other and look out for each other. They have a little bit of everybody in them."
<b> <center> FROM BANZAI TO ZAZU--REASSEMBLING THE CAST </b> </center>
It was clear that there were no better performers to voice such memorable characters as Timon and Pumbaa, Simba, Rafiki, Nala, Shenzi and Banzai than the talented actors who originated these roles in "The Lion King." "We got everyone back, (except the original voices of Zazu and Young Simba) which was great," says Raymond. "Working with them was really fun and easy, and as you can imagine, a real treat!”
Jamie Thomason, head of voice casting for Disneytoon Studios, says “I had worked with these actors before on “Simba’s Pride’ and was thrilled we’d all be reunited again for this project. No one knows these characters and all their nuances better than the actors who brought them to life. It wasn’t a question of ‘if’ – we had to have them back. ‘The Lion King 1 ½’ deserves nothing less than the best.”
It was especially key to secure the voice talents of Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella, the men behind Timon and Pumbaa. Sabella, who reprises the role of Pumbaa, was thrilled to return to the Pride Lands. "I was very excited about it. This movie is clever, and it's sweet," he says. "It will be enjoyed. It’s wonderful.”
"I ran into Whoopi, she was doing a show in town, and she said, 'What are you doing?' I said, 'The Lion King 1 1/2.' And she says, 'Me too!' I enjoyed every moment, every time they called and asked me to do another vocal recording session. It's a lot of fun. It's a celebration."
Sabella finds that his special status as the voice of Pumbaa comes in handy in toy stores. "I love to go to kids' stores and sneak up and talk like Pumbaa right behind the kids. If they're holding a Pumbaa doll, I go, 'Hello! Billy! Is that you?' And the kid shouts, 'Mommy, mommy, He's talking!'"
The filmmakers were equally pleased with Sabella's return. "Ernie came in with great spirits and great attitude," says Mendoza. "He was always eager to come to work and help us."
"The heart of Pumbaa beats in Ernie Sabella," says Raymond. "He's such a sweet guy. He really is the character. He brought so much; he knows that character, he created the voice of that character. He can tell you if Pumbaa would say this, or if this is the way Pumbaa would say that. For me, not being on the first movie, it was great to have that kind of guidance. We're happy he came through."
Sabella loves being paired with old friend Nathan Lane, a fellow Broadway veteran whom he first met when they both starred in a production of "Guys and Dolls" on the Great White Way. "I love Nathan. We ad-lib a lot," says Sabella. "We crack each other up, and I think it's important to do that."
Lane concurs. "It's always fun to do Timon. It's always fun to return to these characters. Ernie and I have worked a lot in the theater and have known each other a long time, so we have a fun chemistry. We always have a great time recording.
“We've been known to improvise, and some of it makes it into the movie. Ernie and I know each other so well that it's very easy to riff and have fun. It's always a blast. It's just a chemistry that you have with somebody that translates into the characters themselves, and I think that's why Timon and Pumbaa are so popular."
Brad Raymond is a huge admirer of Lane and what he contributed to the film. "There's not enough you can say about Nathan Lane. He brought so much to this movie; he was amazing. His performance made the movie."
George Mendoza lists some of Lane's many talents: "His performance, his delivery, his ability to take a word or phrase and make it funny, and make the emotional parts emotional, while still having a little smile left for you. Nathan Lane is just such a terrific talent. He can literally make the lines jump off a page. Anybody else reading them wouldn't have been anywhere nearly as good or as entertaining."
Matthew Broderick, coming off a hugely successful run in the Broadway musical "The Producers" alongside none other than Nathan Lane, returned as the voice of Simba, which was another coup for the filmmakers. "Matthew Broderick created the original movie’s Simba, and Matthew knows Simba better than we know Simba," explains Brad Raymond.
Broderick added some nuances to the character to reflect his maturation. "In the first movie he was a hero and in this movie, we learn a little bit more about how he got to that point," says Raymond. "We
could see a different side of Simba from Matthew. He actually played him as a teenager."
The inimitable Whoopi Goldberg returns as the head hyena, Shenzi. "Shenzi is one of those characters who comes in there and tries to disrupt things," explains George Mendoza. "Whoopi Goldberg showed up and delivered her lines beautifully. She also did a lot of improvisation, which turned out really well."
Goldberg threw in several personal touches that weren't written in the script, but were eventually included in the movie.
"Whoopi created Shenzi," adds Brad Raymond. "She's another one of the actors who created their character. It was a great honor to work with her, because I'm also a big fan. She ad-libbed a lot of the lines, so it was a lot of fun."
Cheech Marin was glad to be back playing the dastardly Banzai, cohort of hyenas Shenzi and Ed. Says Marin, who likens voicing an animated character like Banzai to "sculpting with a chainsaw," "I'm glad to reprise the role. It's great to play these characters. You want to do it for your kids. It's like being in 'Pinocchio' or 'Snow White' or 'The Wizard of Oz.'" Marin appreciates the chemistry he has with his co-stars, Goldberg and Jim Cummings, who voices third hyena Ed. "The balance between us works really well because we know each other's rhythms," he says. "And they're great characters. They're the classic kind of comic, evil, dastardly sidekicks that have their own little niche."
"Cheech Marin was awesome," says Brad Raymond. "Banzai is another case of the actor knowing the character better than I knew him. He was just hilarious. I've always been a big fan of his, and he just
made us laugh. I think the same energy and the same comedy that you get from Cheech in the first movie, we got from him here. He was great."
Moira Kelly, now starring in the hit television series "One Tree Hill," also came back to voice the part of Nala. "Nala is the love interest, the one who's taking Simba away from Timon and Pumbaa," explains Raymond. "In this movie, there's a really funny scene with Nala and Timon and Pumbaa. It's one of the funniest scenes in the movie, and she did such a great job being the straight character to Timon and Pumbaa's comedy. It was a lot of fun. She was a really good sport."
Mystical advisor and mentor Rafiki was again portrayed by Robert Guillaume. "I thought what he did with Rafiki in 'The Lion King' was just terrific," says George Mendoza. "His delivery and his performance were just wonderful. He brought a whole new dimension to our movie. He came in and gave a terrific performance. He made the straight lines funny when they shouldn't have been. So, that helped."
<b> <center> TWO NEW FACES IN THE PRIDE LANDS </b> </center>
The film introduces two new members of the "The Lion King" family, voiced by two industry veterans. "We have two new characters -- Timon's mom, voiced by Julie Kavner, and Timon's Uncle Max, who is played by Jerry Stiller," explains Raymond. "They were a great addition to the project."
George Mendoza likens Timon's mom to "the typical mom--somebody who's always looking out for their kid's best interest, and bringing in the right values and the right attitude. Like all good moms, she doesn't give up on her kids."
But Timon's mom also knows that her son must fit in to the meerkat world if he is to stay and thrive there. "Julie Kavner just played this subtext great," raves Brad Raymond. "Like the cave-in because of the skylight--you can tell underneath she just wants to smack Timon, but she's still trying to be like, 'isn't this great, at least he's creative.' So, she's a great character."
Kavner, known to millions of television viewers as the voice of Marge Simpson, put her own personal imprint on the character. It was the actress who came up with the idea of Timon's mom calling him by the endearing nickname, "Timmy." Early in production, she looked at several designs the animators had come up with for her character and picked out the one that was ultimately used in the film.
"She's amazing," raves Brad Raymond. "We gave her about five different choices, and she just knew the character. Julie Kavner <i>was</i> mom.”
Jerry Stiller came on board as Timon's Uncle Max. "He's just terrific," says George Mendoza. "He delivers a wonderful performance. He's funny even when he doesn't try to be funny. He has a great sense of timing. He gave us a lot of great lines and material to work with."
The character was perfectly tailored to Stiller's brand of cantankerous humor. "Uncle Max is the ultimate meerkat. Uncle Max is the militant meerkat. He's the one that knows what's going to happen to you if you don't act as a meerkat, you don't dig for tunnels, you don't look out for the hyenas," says Brad Raymond. "He's by the book.”
"That's what was so great about Jerry Stiller," he continues. "He was able to play being tough and serious, and suddenly, he hears a noise and then freaks out and screams. He just played that character amazingly. He played Uncle Max so over the top, but at the same time, he still had that militant side. He just did a great job. There's so many laughs with Jerry Stiller."
<center> <b>LOOK BEYOND WHAT YOU SEE: BUILDING ON THE ORIGINAL</b></center>
Even with most of the original cast in place, developing a follow up to "The Lion King" was no small task. Ironically, to try and recreate the massive success of the second highest grossing animated film of all time, the filmmakers decided to think smaller. "The first movie was very grand and epic, and the second movie was also very grand and epic," observes Raymond. "So, we really needed a nice fresh take on the franchise."
Using the premise born from the original story as a foundation, the filmmakers wanted to add some new elements to the mix. First, a theme took shape--"Look beyond what you see"--that began to thread its way throughout the film's story. The phrase goes to the very heart of the film's structure; look beyond the grand story of Simba's ascension to power and you'll find a tale more, well, down to earth--the budding friendship between two unlikely animal allies.
The theme is also reflected in other parts of the story. Stuck in the monotony of the meerkat community, Timon's only pleasure comes in looking beyond what he sees. "The story is about Timon's
troubles trying to fit in with the other meerkats," explains Nathan Lane. "He doesn't want to live like a meerkat and dig tunnels and hide, so he strikes out on his own to create his own life. He wants to explore the world, and that's why he goes off on his own and leaves his family behind."
In addition, Rafiki cryptically advises Timon to "look beyond what he sees." "What he's trying to
do is to help Timon find his own answers, as opposed to giving him the answers," says George Mendoza. "Timon is not really the type of character who wants to be told what to do and what not to do, and Rafiki
realizes that the best way to handle Timon is to let him discover it all on his own." Furthermore, "sometimes looking beyond what you see means looking right in front of you and seeing what's next to you, like family and friendships," Mendoza adds. "What Rafiki is talking about when he says that," says Lane, "is not accepting things at face value. Looking beyond what you see."
The filmmakers also sprinkled in a few surprises. "There are some things in the movie that you may think you know, but you actually don't," says Raymond. "There are some things that you won't expect."
One surprise might be "how Timon and Pumbaa actually met, and how that chance meeting was part of how they went through to the circle of life," adds Mendoza. "When you actually see the circle of life, you realize that they actually had more to do with all the animals and how they bestowed their honor to the new baby Lion King."
The third ingredient was more comedy, and the fact that the story of "The Lion King" was already so well known facilitated the laughs. "We didn't have to do a lot of pre-explanation for the audience. They already know the setting, so it's really easy to play the comedy," says Raymond. "The contrast is what makes it work--taking this grand backdrop of 'The Lion King' and setting irreverent comedy in front of it," he adds. "Playing off the first movie really helps the comedy a lot. I think it's a great idea and a great premise."
The original “The Lion King” was never far from the filmmakers’ minds, and of course that film was repeatedly used as a benchmark for animation excellence. DisneyToon Studios Australia, the Studio’s wholly owned animation facility based in Sydney, had the daunting task of creating a new, fresh world for “The Lion King 1 ½” while staying true to the spirit of the original. “That’s a tough order and they pulled it off with flying colors,” says Raymond.
<center><b>THE SOUND OF (MEERKAT) MUSIC AND MORE</b></center>
DisneyToon Studios’ Matt Walker, senior vice president, Music, was up to the task of assembling musical talent for “The Lion King 1 1/2.” As with the other aspects of the film such as story and animation, Walker knew that the musical approach had to be fresh and new while acknowledging the sounds of the Pride Lands that millions are familiar with. Says Walker, “this film is a highly irreverent comedy, yet tied to the musical majesty of the previous ‘The Lion King’ films. We would be paying
tribute to the beautiful music of Elton John, Tim Rice, Lebo M and Hans Zimmer. Fortunately, we were able to establish a direct link to the original film through the song ‘That’s All I Need.’”
Lebo M continues his successful association with the story. “Lebo M expressed interest in writing for the new film and we were all excited about working with him again. His writing and choral work leave you breathless…It’s incredible, actually.” Walker also credits Don Harper for a stellar new score, and Martin Erskine and Seth J. Friedman for the fun meerkat anthem “Digga Tunnah.” “Old and new, comedy and drama, we’ve got a musical alchemy on this film that just works wonderfully.”
<center><b>TIM RICE AND ELTON JOHN</b></center>
Their song, “That’s All I Need,” is introduced when Timon is on sentry duty and he begins daydreaming about where he'd rather be. Nathan Lane performs.
"Tim came in and was very supportive,” says Walker. “He completely bought into what we were trying to do with 'That’s All I Need.' He was a pleasure to work with.”
"'That’s All I Need' really does move the story forward,” says Brad Raymond. “Because it's about this fantasy place, a Club Med of sorts, and it turns out to be the oasis. They did a fantastic job with the song."
The multi-talented musical artist/writer/producer Lebo M once again brings his formidable talents back to the Pride Lands. A key contributor to the original music of “The Lion King,” Lebo M graces this new “The Lion King 1 ½” with many varied contributions. He composed and produced vocal tracks that were then woven into Don Harper’s orchestral recordings. Lebo also assembled an absolutely superb choir in South Africa, rushing mixes to London in time for the sessions.
Digga tunnah? That’s what you get when you have a group of meerkats working as fast as they can! One of the new songs in this movie, “Digga Tunnah” is written by Marty Erskine and Seth Friedman. Says Brad Raymond, "It really sets up Timon's world. This is what meerkats do. They dig tunnels so that they can hide in them and not get eaten by hyenas. And that's the world that Timon doesn't want."
Raymond presented his songwriters with a tall order: "What I wanted was an entertaining fun song, but it had to tell the story of a very boring, monotonous life," says the director. "It was a difficult thing to tell somebody; 'write a fun song, and make sure it seems boring!'"
Having written songs for several other films, Erskine and Friedman were up to the task. They created something in the vein of "Whistle While You Work"--an entertaining song about the drudgery of going to work. "They did a great job. It's a lot of fun. It gives us both an entertaining song and what we wanted to tell in the story.
"'Digga Tunnah' is one tune that you really find yourself humming," continues Raymond. "It's a good sign when you find you can’t stop yourself from humming a song--you know it's going to be catchy."
From "Snow White" to "Brother Bear," the music in Disney's animated films has always been memorable and special. "The Lion King 1 1/2" carries on that tradition--but this time there were some new challenges. "In the score," begins Brad Raymond, "we had to try to match the grandeur of the first 'The Lion King,' and at the same time bring in the comedy that was necessary for this project." The score was composed by Don Harper, an accomplished composer/arranger who has contributed or solely composed scores for such diverse films as “The Hulk,” “The Rock,” “Atlantis: Milo’s Return” and “Texas Rangers.”
“The Lion King 1 ½” has several new twists on popular songs. Nathan Lane (as Timon) tackles the Disney classic “It’s A Small World After All,” Lebo M can be heard crooning “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” Kool And The Gang’s “Jungle Boogie” makes an appearance, as does Ennio Morricone’s
immortal theme from “The Good, The Bad And The Ugly.” Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella chime in together (as Timon and Pumbaa) on the Broadway classic “Sunrise Sunset” and Nathan can be heard singing the “Hawaiian War Chant.”
"Grazing in the Grass" is performed by popular Disney Channel star Raven. "It's really terrific," says George Mendoza. "It's an end credit song that just plays beautifully. It's a new interpretation; it's just a terrific song.
It makes you want to get up and dance.”
<center><b>THE DVD FORMAT</b></center>
The DVD format of this film also allows for new bonus features. "We have 20 hidden Mickeys in this movie," says Brad Raymond. "It was a lot of fun to look at the movie and find places where we could hide them. They're so meticulously placed throughout the movie that sometimes we even forget where they are!"
"There may be a water puddle in the shape of Mickey's head, or leaves arranged in that three-circle shape," adds George Mendoza. "Some are easy to find; some you have to look really hard for."
"There are some very funny extras on this DVD of 'The Lion King 1 1/2,'" confirms Nathan Lane. "One is this sort of mockumentary of Timon, 'Behind the Legend,' where he is interviewed by Peter Graves. There's some very funny stuff. And then there's one feature where I play 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire.'"
Lane is referring to "Who Wants to be King of the Jungle," a takeoff of the game show, hosted by Meredith Vieira. "Timon is the contestant. It's very funny," says Lane. "There was a lot of ad-libbing." The special features also include "Timon and Pumbaa's Virtual Safari 1.5"
<b><center>HOPE AND CROSBY, LAUREL AND HARDY...TIMON AND PUMBAA</b></center>
"The Lion King 1 1/2" could have been subtitled 'Timon and Pumbaa: The Buddy Movie’” says Ernie Sabella. “For me, it's Bing and Bob. It's all the great buddy movies that we've loved in the ‘40s and ‘50s and ‘60s. Here, Disney has put together a buddy movie for Timon and Pumbaa. The first of many, I hope."
What makes the comedy between Timon and Pumbaa work? There are several opinions. "The mechanics of their comedy is their survival," says Ernie Sabella. "They're in the jungle and they're gonna be eaten by all the other animals, who wanna step on 'em, eat 'em, and munch on 'em. That's a survival comedy, and we've had that. I had that in seventh grade!"
Raymond thinks the comedy act succeeds because the characters balance each other so well. "We have this cranky character in Timon, and we have this sweet character in Pumbaa. Timon thinks he's always right, and Pumbaa always accepts it, and it's just sort of a nice balance. But at one point in the film Pumbaa stands up to Timon, which is a new twist."
"They rank up there as a comic team for their timing, their ability, their delivery, the fact that they look so different," says George Mendoza. "They work well together. It's the ying and yang of animation characters."
"They're the Laurel and Hardy of Disney," asserts Raymond.
<center><b>THE EVOLUTION OF TIMON AND PUMBAA</b></center>
Written into the original "The Lion King" to inject the film with comic relief and what Ernie Sabella describes as 'that New York energy,' Timon and Pumbaa offer plenty of both in "The Lion King 1 1/2." But Ernie Sabella also adds that the characters have evolved.
Brad Raymond agrees. "We show so much more about Timon and Pumbaa in this film," he says. "You're getting a lot more levels to the characters. You're learning more about them."
Sabella also says the flatulent warthog emerges as a role model in this ovie, sending a positive message to young viewers. "He's loyal. He's a smart guy, but not pretentious. And he's a hero, once again. I think that's a marvelous characteristic for kids to know."
Sabella adds, "It's important for kids to know that it's all right to be shy. It's all right to be big. It's all right to be who you are. I think that's very important with this film."
And little did we know that Pumbaa was harboring some secret smarts. "Pumbaa has this underlying brilliance," says Raymond. "He's very smart and he understands. Pumbaa was looking for a home in the beginning and Timon was looking to get away from home. I think Pumbaa taught Timon the true meaning of what the story is about, the importance of your family and the ones you love."
Timon, too, has come a long way since "The Lion King." This film, according to Brad Raymond, is "about what Timon learns through becoming a friend to Pumbaa--who he's kind of using at the beginning-and also raising Simba and becoming a parent to Simba. Eventually, he becomes the hero of his meerkat clan. He starts off as a one-man show and he learns that you have to find your place in the community and be a team player in order to succeed.”
"It's fun to see Timon have a full arc at the end of the story and really learn the meaning of Hakuna Matata," adds the director. "He learns that in order to be accepted by the community you have to
fit in to the community. It takes him the whole story to find his place, and his place really is as the leader. He actually comes back and becomes a leader and the hero of the story."
"Timon does 'get it' at some point, later on in the movie," say Mendoza. "He realizes that sometimes looking beyond what you see means looking right in front of you and seeing what's next to you. And he realizes the importance of family and friendships and support in community."
Audiences will also see more of Timon and Pumbaa as doting parents in this film. "Timon and Pumbaa really helped Simba, and they taught him a lot in the oasis. They raised him and they nurtured him," says Raymond.
Of course, some of the characters' fundamental attributes never change--like Pumbaa's aromatic abilities. "Timon desperately needs to have a friend who can take care of the bad guys," says Sabella. "And Pumbaa, he finds out, can simply because he has a magical power. He stinks! And all the other really bad animals run away, so he's got a pal. I was very proud to be the very first Disney character that actually had gas!"
So how does Timon tolerate the odor? "He has a good sense of smell," explains Nathan Lane, "but he's willing to put up with it."
<center><b>THE QUEST FOR HAKUNA MATATA</b></center>
"Hakuna Matata," the popular musical mantra of "The Lion King," makes a welcome comeback in "The Lion King 1 1/2." "Every child on the planet knows what Hakuna Matata means now," says Ernie Sabella proudly. "I remember thinking, 'I've reached every child on the planet?' There is such joy in that.
"Sinatra had 'My Way,' I've got 'Hakuna Matata,'" laughs Sabella.
The famous phrase, picked up by lyricist Tim Rice in a Swahili handbook when he traveled to Africa, represents "something we all want in life," says George Mendoza. "We all want the opportunity to not have to worry about every little thing--a perpetual vacation. Hakuna Matata plays a role in those moments in life when we relax, we enjoy life."
But in "The Lion King 1 1/2," Hakuna Matata has added significance. "In this film, Hakuna Matata means no worries, so there's still no worries," says Ernie Sabella. "But we have to work on it. This story is the quest for Hakuna Matata."
At first, Timon thinks he's found Hakuna Matata--but he's wrong. "Timon's point of view of Hakuna Matata, what he took from Rafiki, is you just leave your community; it's a one-man show, find a place where you can be alone and nobody will bother you. He didn't even want Pumbaa. He wanted Pumbaa to help get him there and then not stay with him," explains Brad Raymond. "What Hakuna Matata is, is pure inner peace and happiness, and unless you have your family and the ones you love,
which Timon realizes after everybody basically leaves the oasis and he's all alone, you don't have true Hakuna Matata."
The idea of Hakuna Matata is featured in one of the film's most hilarious and creative scenes. Ernie Sabella was actually worried that the sequence might be cut from the film. "When I first read it, I said, 'Oh, I know this is gonna go. I hope they keep it.' Pumbaa's bringing stuff to Timon, and he's just coming up with all sorts of different ways of saying 'Hakuna Matata.' It goes on and on. It's just a big build up and then, 'Hakuna Matata!'"
The filmmakers were looking for a new angle to the popular phrase, and it was Tom Rogers, the film's writer, who came up with the idea. Rogers has also written the screenplays for "Winnie the Pooh: Springtime with Roo” and co-scripted "Cinderella II: Dreams Come True," and "Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure."
"This was a difficult project to write because you have to stay true to the first movie--we couldn't change what happened--but still keep it original," says Brad Raymond. "Tom did a great job of managing all that.
"He came up with what we did with Hakuna Matata," he continues. "Since it's so recognizable, and everybody's seen it before and heard it before, we wanted to do something fresh. Tom came up with an idea to play with the words.
"Timon tries to remember what Rafiki told him, but he can't remember the phrase. At the same time, Pumbaa is trying to make bug dishes, and they all rhyme with 'Hakuna Matata'--'hot tuna frittata,' 'hookwormy piccata.' But Timon just isn't getting it. He's still trying to figure it out. It's a lot of fun. It's a great twist on Hakuna Matata and makes it fresh again."
One of the highlights of the song for Brad Raymond is the way the hyenas are used to dramatic--and comedic--effect. "You see the hyenas in the background, but Timon's not paying attention, because he's getting into the song. We go into this fantasy, and the song is ramping up. It feels like the song is about to hit the big crescendo and it gets cut off, because the hyenas have popped up and broken Timon's fantasy. That's actually a lot of fun--a different type of take on a song."
With "The Lion King 1 1/2," the magical legacy of "The Lion King" continues, bringing joy to a new generation of film audiences to whom "DVD" is not a foreign word. "What I'm most impressed with is that the filmmakers have really gone farther," says Ernie Sabella. "They've really topped themselves."
But deep down, the heart of this film is no different from the original.
"It's an entertaining film," says George Mendoza, perhaps summarizing it best. "It's really comical and even the emotional moments will still make you smile."
* THE LION KING Academy Award® Winner
1994 Best Music, Original Score, Hans Zimmer
1994 Best Music, Song, “Can You Feel The Love Tonight,” Elton John and Tim Rice
<a href=http://jakelipson.dvdaf.com/owned/ target=blank>My modest collection of little silver movie discss</a>
Last edited by Jake Lipson on Sun Jan 25, 2004 8:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.