The film is a part-prequel, part-Perspective Flip of the original Lion King from Timon and Pumbaa's perspective. Both characters were already the first to get their own spin-off in Timon & Pumbaa, which, while not outright stated, this film seems to draw heavy inspiration from. The film follows the Origin Story of Timon and Pumbaa (mainly Timon) prior to the first film, and the hijinks they got up to offscreen during the rest of it.
Following the Shakespearean tradition of the movies, 1 ½ bears more than a few similarities to the extra-Shakespearean Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.
This film provides examples of:
- Adaptational Badass: The hyenas are obviously a much larger threat to the meerkats and Pumbaa than they were to the lions in the original film, and while then they (or at least the main three) were Not-So-Harmless Villains, here they qualify for the Big Bad position, posing a much graver threat to the heroes of this film.
- Adaptational Wimp: While in the original film and the TV series, Pumbaa took on the hyenas head-on, in this film he flees from them at the drop of a hat, just like Timon.
- Affectionate Nickname: Teenage Simba calls Timon "pops" a couple of times.
- Ambiguously Gay: Maybe even dropping the "ambiguous" part. A lot of the movie, especially regarding Timon's relationship with his family, seems to play this up as straight as possible, with little gems like this scene◊. Also, a mushy scene of Timon and Pumbaa staring into one another's eyes causes Timon, in the "audience", to start crying to the point where the movie has to be "paused" for him to recover. A later scene even has them accidentally sharing a Spaghetti Kiss while eating an earthworm.Ma: Y'know, Something's different about Timon...
Uncle Max: You think? (frantic) He's wearin' a dress!
- Ambiguously Jewish:
- The meerkats' colony evoke a kibbutz or a ghetto, everybody seeming to work for the well-being of the community.
- Timon mentions how the meerkats are low in the food chain (confirmed by Uncle Max), which is reminiscent of the Jewish diaspora's past condition in many European and Middle Eastern countries.
- On a darker note, the attacks on meerkats by the hyenas, apparently gratuitous since they are chasing them more for fun than for food, also reminisces greatly the "occasional" pogroms against Jews, who were led as much out of antisemitism as in the goal to rob their possessions.
- The colony seems to be surrounded by constant exterior threats, to the point that sentinels are driven mad by paranoia after too much time at this position. This tells it all from an israeli point of view.
- The meerkats, save Timon's mom, shun Timon for letting the hyenas get the drop on them. Shunning is a known practice (although not a religiously exclusive one) regarding pariahs in the Orthodox Jewish community.
- When Timon feels the need to express his feelings on parenthood and Simba growing up, his first instinct is to sing "Sunrise, Sunset," from Fiddler on the Roof, a musical about Jewish family and tradition.
- The ending of the movie even involves Timon leading his people to the "Promised Land."
- Timon's mom calls him a meshuggeneh, meaning "lunatic" or "troublemaker" in Yiddish (she also bears a bit of the possessive personality of the Jewish Mother).
- Additionnally, a detail from the animated series says Timon's last name is Berkowitz— an Ashkenazi Jewish name.
- With the exception of Timon himself, every member of Timon's family is played by a Jewish comedian.
- Animal Reaction Shot: After Pumbaa lets one rip, an elephant freaks out.
- Animation Bump: While still not quite on par with TLK, the animation quality in this film is visibly better than Simba's Pride. The scenes which are merged with footage of the original film usually try harder to match the higher quality.
- Armor-Piercing Response:
- Max and the colony are angry with Timon for not alerting them to the hyenas attack and nearly getting Max killed, and Timon tries to smooth things over.Timon: Im sure were all gonna laugh about this some day, trust me!Max: I did trust you.
- After learning from Nala that Simba is on his way back to the Pridelands to take them back from Scar, Timon obstinately refuses to join in the effort due to feeling betrayed that Simba would choose to abandon their idyllic lifestyle to "run off to be "his highness" and unwilling to leave the paradise he spent so long searching for. This leads to Timon getting into an argument with Pumbaa over the prospect of having to leave their home and lifestyle to help their friend, concluding with Pumbaa calling him out on his selfishness.Pumbaa: We gotta go help our friend, Timon!
Timon: Et tu, Pumbaa? You're just gonna walk away, give up on all this? What happened to "friends stick together to the end"? Huh? Huh? Huh?
Pumbaa: I was about to ask you the same thing.
- Max and the colony are angry with Timon for not alerting them to the hyenas attack and nearly getting Max killed, and Timon tries to smooth things over.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: How the film views its setting's monarchy. On the one hand, lions have much better homes than meerkats and get more respect. On the other, they have to actively protect said homes from usurpers, their jobs are much more complex than "scurry, sniff, flinch", and lions are so rare that they cannot abandon their roles for any reason. When Timon leaves his colony, there are no negative repercussions; when Simba does the same thing, animals die, and it's his responsibility to fix everything by attacking Scar head-on.
- Back Blocking: Timon is in the middle of one of his "look beyond what you see" moments when he suddenly recoils and exclaims, "Hey! How am I supposed to look beyond what I see, beyond that?" From his POV, we see a backside view of Pumbaa. Pumbaa apologies and moves aside, revealing the ravine where the wildebeest stampede from the original movie took place.
- Been There, Shaped History: Timon and Pumbaa run into several scenes from the first movie, and actually set a few minor events into motion. For example, at Simba's presentation by Rafiki, it's revealed that the reason the animals all bow is because Pumbaa breaks wind at the wrong time, causing a number of animals to faint, which everyone in front mistakes for bowing. In "I Just Can't Wait to Be King," it's revealed that the reason the tower of animals collapses is because Timon whacks the leg of one of the elephants at the base with a stick, causing him to panic and lose his balance. Timon and Pumbaa also try to ruin Simba and Nala's reunion after years of separation but accidentally make it more romantic, and a bit more painful for Timon.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: The three hyenas, Shenzi, Banzai and Ed, certainly qualify, despite their lack of screentime. Their attack on the meerkat colony while Timon daydreams is a direct cause of Timon leaving the colony, and serve as the biggest threat to Timon and Pumbaa during the Final Battle.
- Big "NO!": When Timon's Ma asks Uncle Max if he would prefer having Timon on the digging team to sentry duty, Timon, Uncle Max, and all the meerkats scream, "NO!"
- Blah, Blah, Blah: Timon and Pumbaa thinks while listening to Nala tell Simba's story:Pumbaa: Poor Simba. The treachery, the villainy, the sheer indescribable horror!Timon: Blah blah blah! Why is she toying with us? Ahh! This crazy chick is gonna eat us!
- Bookends: Timon's character arc begins with him almost getting Max killed through negligence, and ends with him saving Max's life.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: "It's kinda hard to think with all this music!"
- The Cameo: Various Disney Characters show up at the cinema before the credits roll:
- Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
- Belle, the Beast, Mrs. Potts, and Chip
- The Genie, Aladdin, Jasmine, and Carpet
- Hyacinth Hippo
- The Mad Hatter
- Peter Pan, Tinker Bell and The Lost Boys
- Quasimodo, Victor, Hugo, and Laverne
- Mowgli and Baloo
- Fauna, Flora and Merriweather
- Br'er Bear
- Comically Missing the Point: Timon takes Rafiki's advice to "look beyond what you see" a little too literally. Timons Ma even chews out Rafiki for it, knowing how literally Timon takes things.
- Company Cross References: A myriad of other Disney characters appear near the end of the film at the cinema, among them the Genie, Aladdin, and Jasmine riding on Carpet, Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, and the Lost Boys, Belle, the Beast, Mrs. Potts and Chip, and Stitch, just to name a few.
- Continuity Nod:
Timon: We're gonna get old walking across this thing.
- Doubling as a funny moment and (as usual for him) a bit of Leaning on the Fourth Wall, this moment when Timon is talking to cub Simba after he keeps waking up in the middle of the night to go across the log from the first movie.
- Also, in a cross with Homage Shot, during the climax when Shenzi is leaping to pounce and eat Timon, the scene is framed (complete with slow-mo and a fiery backdrop) the same way as Scar's final leap toward Simba.
- In the trailer, Timon bemoans the preliminary title "The Lion King III" and tries to take out one of the I's, only for Pumbaa to tell him he can't do that because "There's already been a 'two'!"Timon: Oooh, you got a point there, big fella. It's not a sequel, anyway.
Pumbaa: Yeah, more like a behind-the-scene-quel.
Timon: A what-a-who-quel???
Pumbaa: Oh, you know, an in-between-quel.
- After Simba's coronation, Timon and Pumbaa continue living in their jungle home, with Simba being implied to visit from time to time, much like in the TV series.
- Counting to Three: When Simba is jumping around in a tree.Timon: Young lion, get down from there!Simba: Yahoo! All right! Hey, you guys look like ants down there!Timon: I'm counting to three!(Simba jumps onto a weak branch, it breaks)Pumbaa: Uh oh!(Simba continues to fall)Timon: One! Two!(Pumbaa jumps onto Timon, making a pillow for Simba to land on)Timon: (muffled) Threeeeee.
- Crossover Punchline: At the very end, several characters of the Disney Animated Canon show up uninvited at the theater to re-watch the whole movie with Timon and his friends and family.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: An in-universe example. Meerkats have no concept of cowardice, as you'd expect from a species who can't fight back against predators. Running from danger is a fact of life to them, and the only way they know how to deal with threats.
- Denser and Wackier: Much like Timon & Pumbaa, the tone of this film is more comedic than the first two, likely due to it being centered around Timon and Pumbaa.
- Disney Acid Sequence: Timon's "That's All I Need", fitting well with the Denser and Wackier tone of the film compared to the previous two instalments.
- Disney Death: Uncle Max, who is revealed to have survived moments after the supposed death.
- Disappointed in You: "I did trust you..."
- Easter Egg: There are exactly 20 hidden Mickeys scattered throughout the film which includes the actual Mickey at the very end of the movie. The original DVD release included a special "Hidden Mickey Hunt" mode meant for locating said hidden Mickeys, where indicators would show up on the screen when a hidden Mickey was about to appear on the screen. A list of the locations of the Mickeys (including timestamps) can be found here.
- Eating Contest: The snail-eating contest between Timon and Simba.
- Epic Fail:
Random Meerkat: Who else could break a hole?!
- Timon really stinks at digging tunnels like the other meerkats, with it mentioning that he's caused four tunnel networks to cave-in within a week.
- All of Timon and Pumbaa's attempts to break Simba and Nala apart. The best example is when Timon throws a large beehive at the lions...only to leave behind the bees, which float above him. Predictably, he ends up getting stung.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Uncle Max.
- Expy: One of the meerkats singing "Digga Tunnah" is this to Timon's practical-joking friend Fred from Timon & Pumbaa. He is seen popping up and saying "Dig!" at the end of the song.
- Failed a Spot Check: Timon lets the hyenas sneak up on the meerkat colony and nearly kill Uncle Max. Not that he was checking anyway...
- Fear Is the Appropriate Response: One of the more notable examples of the screaming response is directly advised:Uncle Max: (to Timon) What do we do if we see a hyena?
Timon: Scream "Mommy!"
Uncle Max: That's right, mister!
- Follow the Bouncing Ball: When "Hakuna Matata" is played in full for the first time. It takes the form of a ladybug. During the song, however, the ladybug briefly disappears due to Pumbaa trying to eat it. The song continues with the (otherwise dazed) ladybug.
- Framing Device: The movie is framed by Timon and Pumbaa watching it in a theater a la Mystery Science Theater 3000.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: After Timon and Pumbaa distract many hyenas with the Hula, they are chased into a cave by only three, then scare them away with Pumbaa's smell. Through slow-play and freeze frames you can see that these hyenas are not anonymous as in the original distraction, but in fact Shenzi, Banzai and Ed.
- Friendly Tickle Torture: A quick scene with Timon tickling Simba on his belly right before them and Pumbaa are about to go to sleep.
- Fright-Induced Bunkmate: After a bad dream, Simba wakes up Timon (again) to let him know that. Timon and Pumbaa offer him to sleep with them, which he gladly accepts.
- Fun Size: Timon's tiny stature makes for a few deliberately cute moments, such as him falling asleep under Simba's paw with his arms around one of the toes.
- Gigantic Moon: A super-large moon can be seen in the backdrop when the main characters walk across a log◊.
- Glad I Thought of It: The first time Timon does this (he has to "look beyond the big pointy rock"), Pumbaa looks mildly confused. Then he just goes with it.
- Gory Discretion Shot: When Uncle Max is caught by the hyenas and they start mauling and eating him, the camera cuts away to the meerkat colony recoiling in horror, shielding their eyes. (He turns out okay, just battered.)
- G-Rated Sex: The "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?" sequence, which was already this trope, becomes even more risque through a very clever little bit of referencing — namely that in the original, pre-production version of the song, the scene carried on well after the pair's tumble down the hill. In that version, Nala winds sensually around Simba before leading him away towards a waterfall, where it's made very clear that they have sex. Sure enough, in this movie, the scene lingers just long enough to see Nala wind around Simba and then walk off with him towards the waterfalls.
- Heart Is an Awesome Power: Meerkats dig all their life, and have a corresponding knowledge of architecture. Timon realizes they can use this tactically, leading to Ma and Uncle Max digging a trap (in the space of minutes!) to collapse the ground beneath their predators.
- Heel Realization: Timon has one of these when he realizes that not going to help his friends means his "Hakuna Matata" is leaving with them.
- Here We Go Again!: The movie ends with Ma rewinding the film and gathering the rest of the gang (and other Disney characters as well) to watch it again, much to Timon's dismay.
- Holding the Floor: Timon has to distract the hyenas for long enough to get their trap set, leading to this unforgettable exchange:
- Hypocrite: Subverted. Rafiki appears to become this because of an unfortunate Retcon from the original movie. He comes up with the idea of Hakuna Matata and introduces it to Timon, only in the first movie to chastise Simba for living the lifestyle he encouraged Timon to live out. However, Timon was a lowly meerkat with no responsibilities to the circle of life; Simba was the rightful king who was needed to keep the circle of life going. Furthermore, Rafiki was encouraging Timon to find his Hakuna Matata but meant it as finding the people he loved and was happy to spend his life with (as opposed to an unrestrained life of hedonism).
- Inevitable Waterfall: After the stampede, Timon and Pumbaa fall into a river that leads into a massive waterfall. They realize it too late, but survive the fall. During the montage of Simbas childhood in the jungle, he also was going over a waterfall, with Timon trying to save him; Pumbaa rescued Simba, but Timon fell over (and lived).
- Interspecies Romance: Subverted and Played for Laughs. To stall for time, Timon (a meerkat) proposes to Shenzi (a hyena). Everyone provides a hilarious reaction to the whole scene.
- I Want My Mommy!: What do meerkats do when they see a hyena? Scream "MOMMY!".
- "I Want" Song: Timon's "That's All I Need". Ironically, this is played a lot more straight than in the original movie.
- Job Song: "Diggah Tunnah" is this for the meerkats, showing their constant digging and hiding.
- Lighter and Softer: By far the most light-hearted film in the trilogy, no thanks due to the comical nature of the two protagonists.
- "Lion King" Lift: The movie's posters often show Timon on Pride Rock lifting Pumbaa in a parody of Simba's presentation as a cub.
- Lonely Together: Timon and Pumbaa...and later Simba.
- Market-Based Title: It was released as The Lion King 3: Hakuna Matata in most Latin American, Asian and European language versions. As for why it isnt called that in American English? Well, one of the trailers shows that Timon didn't want a third movie, and has him messing with the logo to change it to 1½.
- Mass "Oh, Crap!": When Ma asks Uncle Max if he'd prefer Timon go back on the digging crew than take sentry duty, Max and Timon's yell of 'NO!' is accompanied by a dozen other voices, causing the three to turn around to see the other meerkats looking a might sheepish.
- Meaningful Background Event: The hyenas approach the meerkat colony during the first few lines of Thats All I Need.
- Misplaced Wildlife: Timon mentions "bobbing for snapping turtles" as one of their rejected games. Snapping turtles live only in North America.
- Momma's Boy: Timon, in spades.
- Moment Killer: Timon and Pumbaa try their best to ruin the moments between Nala and Simba. Subverted, it only brings them closer together and injures Timon horrifically.
- Mood Whiplash: Uncle Max is running for his life and about to get eaten...when Pumbaa accidentally switches it to a shopping channel.
- No Sense of Time: The pace of the movie tends to screw with the timeframe of the original Lion King, largely for Rule of Funny. For example, Timon and Pumbaa find their first home on the day Simba is born. Right after, Timon is woken up by "I Just Can't Wait To Be King - he and Pumbaa act as though it's the next day (as it sells the "just moved into a place only to find out its terrible" Running Gag), even though there would've had to have been months if not years between the two events. Likewise Timon's mother leaves to find him before the two meet Simba but only tracks him down after Simba is an adult, yet acts like little time has passed when they find each other. On the flipside, the movie adds days (at least) of time between other events from the first movie to allow for events for Timon and Pumbaa's story to happen - for example Timon and Pumbaa move to their jungle after the wildebeest stampede, which implies Simba has been wandering all by himself in the desert for many days. It's all very tongue in cheek, however.
- MST: It starts with Timon and Pumbaa in silhouette at a theater watching the original film. Throughout the movie, they are at times seen commenting over the events in their own film. At least a few times they even pause the movie.
- Not Now, We're Too Busy Crying over You: Timon's mom is in hysterics when he is missing. Then he climbs out of the pit he made and says "Mom, it's OK." She grabs him and shakes him and says a few things about it not being OK before she realizes that it's Timon.
- OOC Is Serious Business: Even Ed is completely dumbfounded when Timon proposes to Shenzi, despite it being a very, very funny moment.
- Overly Long Name: Shenzi Marie Predatora Veldetta Jacquelina Hyena.
- Painting the Medium: Happens to the "bouncing ball" grub that appears during the first full playthrough of "Hakuna Matata". Halfway through the song it disappears, but Timon notices and forces Pumbaa to stop eating it.
- Pale Females, Dark Males: Timon's mom is a peach-y tan color compared to the male meerkat shades of tawny and flat brown.
- Parental Bonus: Far more than the average Disney Shout Outs of the first and second film, this one references everything from the works of Shakespeare (a given) and Fiddler on the Roof to Abbott and Costello to Pulp Fiction and The Godfather, as well as the music that came from Peter Gunn, which was played during the attempted sabotage of Simba and Nala's time together, as well as the shootout scene from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly being parodied in the snail-slurping contest. They also reference Apocalypse Now, Mystery Science Theater 3000, The Sixth Sense, Casablanca and Bowling for Columbine.
- P.O.V. Sequel: The film retells the plot of the first The Lion King from the point of view of Timon and Pumbaa, showing what they were doing during each major event of the original story.
- Prequel: The film's plot starts off at a point before the beginning of The Lion King, showing Timon's life as an outcast within his community, before turning into a P.O.V. Sequel.
- Reactive Continuous Scream: Done by Timon and Pumbaa when they first meet.
- Record Needle Scratch: Timon's mom shows Timon the savanna at sunset, explaining how "everything the light touches" (hinting at the "... is our kingdom" line from the original), cue needle scratch and Timon's mother ending with: "... belongs to someone else!".Timon: Funny, I thought you were going in a whole different direction.
- Recycled IN SPACE!: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Were Eaten by a Lion.
- Sarcastic Clapping: While giving Timon the low down on the basics of sentry duty, Uncle Max goes off on a melodramatic tangent about the perils of the savannah and all the predators that may be out there waiting to attack the colony ("the fraught fest," as his nephew calls it), leading Timon to resort to this:
- Timon: Bravo, Uncle Max! (starts clapping) Way to sell it to the cheap seats.
* Uncle Max: (grabs Timon's hands, stopping him) Applaud now, sonny boy, but try clapping when you don't have any hands.
(Timon looks nervously at his hands, gulps softly, then assumes position)
- Seeking the Intangible: The movie focuses on Timon, who takes things literally. He searches for Hakuna Matata after being told to do so by Rafiki, and goes to find it "beyond what he can see", which he takes to mean beyond the big pointy rock that he saw on the horizon.
- Series Continuity Error: Although the movie is likely canon, there are many little problems that make it difficult to put together exactly how.
- Timon had already met Rafiki before going to Pride Rock in this movie, but he still asks Nala "Who's the monkey?" moments after the mandrill' Stealth Hi/Bye in the original movie.
- The continuity gets even more confused around the Final Battle. If Timon and Pumbaa had distracted the hyenas from following Simba, the hyenas couldn't have been there to hear Scar say they were the villains. It also turns Scar's fall into a true Disney Villain Death. While it could be interpreted that the trio were able to hear Scars betrayal then double back for Timon and Pumbaa, then the tunnel deposited them at the base of Pride Rock in time for them to meet and eat Scar, the elapsed time seems a bit short for that. There's also a chance the hyenas that heard Scar call them the enemies were separate from Shenzi, Banzai and Ed, as there are multiple unnamed hyenas seen in the original film.
- Shamed by a Mob: Timon gets death glares from almost every meerkat in the colony for goofing off during sentry duty and not alerting them about the presence of Shenzi, Banzai and Ed, which nearly got Uncle Max killed by them.
- Shipper on Deck: Unlike Timon, Pumbaa was more supportive of Simba's blossoming romance with Nala when they reunited in their adulthood.
- Sit on the Camera:Timon: "How am I supposed to look beyond what I see beyond that?"Pumbaa: "Huh? Oh, sorry.
- Showdown at High Noon: Parodied during the snail slurping contest, complete with the theme from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
- Slapstick Knows No Gender: Shenzi as usual gets the same level comeuppance as the male hyenas. Also, the only Moment Killer of Timon's that works is hitting Nala with a thorn (though it's short lived).
- Space Jews: The meerkats are a group of Animal Jews in both personal relationships and in that they employ gratuitous Yiddish.
- Spaghetti Kiss: Between Timon and Pumbaa, using a worm. They were not amused.
- Spiders Are Scary: Timon tries dropping a spider down onto Simba and Nala...only for it to get distracted by a female spider.
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Lion King 1½ is noticeably told more from Timon's perspective than Pumbaa's. This is likely because Pumbaa's backstory was already, albiet briefly, shown during "Hakuna Matata" in the original movie.
- Tempting Fate:
- Early in the film, Uncle Max says he hasnt seen any sign of Timons handiwork anywhere. Cue the ceiling falling in.
- "Aw, why not? One more run won't change our lives!" It's this specific "bowling for buzzards" event that leads them to meeting Simba, although it at least doesn't ruin their lives (the implication being it'd change the course of their lives).
- This Is Wrong on So Many Levels!: Shenzi, when Timon proposes to her as a distraction.Shenzi: Ooh, that violates so many laws of nature!
- Toilet Humor : Every single instance or implication of Pumbaa farting is this.
- Tummy Cushion: Timon has been sleeping on Pumbaa's stomach for about 5 nights after they saved Simba. Then Simba, along with Timon both slept on him when Simba had a bad dream.
- Tunnel King: All the Meerkats except Timon.
- The Voiceless: Mufasa and Scar are silent during their brief, fleeting appearances.
- Underwater Fart Gag: When Timon, Pumbaa, and Simba sit in a pool of water, there are bubbles like a hot tub. When Pumbaa gets out, they disappear, implying that he was simply farting an awful lot.Timon: I'm out!
Simba: Right behind you!
- What Happened to the Mouse?: The hyenas don't appear at all after going down the tunnel, despite seemingly everyone being back for the "wrap-up party" and literally everyone appearing in the theater.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Pumbaa gives Timon this towards the end for not wanting to help Simba.
- Uncle Max and the colony shun Timon for not alerting them to the approaching hyenas, Max in particular for barely surviving the attack.
- Willing Suspension of Disbelief: The only way this movie could be accepted as canon. That and Broad Strokes.
- You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: Banzai, to Timon and Pumbaa's stalling tactics.
- "You!" Squared: A variation occurs when Nala tries to hunt down Pumbaa, but Simba comes to rescue. They fight for a few seconds, then Simba loses he exclaims, "Nala!?".