The Lion King 1½ (also known as The Lion King 3: Hakuna Matata in some countries) is an American direct-to-video animated 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 parallel to the 1994 film The Lion King, and 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 as silhouettes in a style like 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").
While the original film, The Lion King, seemed to be based on 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.
At Timon’s meerkat colony far away from Pride Rock, Timon takes jobs as a digger and a sentry, but despite his mother's encouragement, he cannot seem to find a good job for himself. After his uncle Max is nearly eaten by the three hyenas on his sentry, Timon decides to leave the meerkat colony and find a place that is right for him. He is encouraged by Rafiki to seek Hakuna Matata and to look beyond what he sees, and has the intuition to head for Pride Rock. Along the way, 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 Pride Rock, but to their dismay a herd of animals is already there. While Timon and Pumbaa are walking through the herd of animals witnessing the presentation of the newborn Simba, Pumbaa accidentally farts and it 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 they all bow together.
Timon and Pumbaa continue their journey and find a new home at a watering hole that looks like a miniature version of Pride Rock. One morning, they are disturbed by some noise from outside, which is actually Simba, Nala, and the animals singing "I Just Can't Wait To Be King." Timon is angry and hits the leg of an elephant supporting the tower of animals. The elephant jumps in surprise and causes the tower to collapse, explaining why it collapses in the original film.
Timon and Pumbaa's home is ruined by this event. Pumbaa tells Timon about a "dream home" in the jungle, but Timon ignores him. They 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 "Be Prepared", and the duo run away by Irish stepdancing due to a comment that they have made about Riverdance. Later, they end up in the gorge only to encounter a wildebeest stampede, the same one from the original film in which Simba loses his father. While trying to run from the wildebeests, they fall down a waterfall, which leads to the "dream home" that Pumbaa had described. The song "Hakuna Matata" has turned into a sing-along. Timon and Pumbaa later find Simba, and the film shows some of their life in the jungle throughout the years.