The Best Disney Animated Sequel is ‘The Lion King 1½’

Look, you need to teach kids about postmodern meta-comedy eventually.
Lion King 1 1/2 Sequel

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that unpacks what makes ‘The Lion King 1½’ such an exceptional Disney sequel.

If you’re at all familiar with the dark, drama-filled vortex of traditional animation history, you’ve probably heard of the “Disney Vault.” For the uninitiated and unaware, this was a marketing concept that aimed to keep a tight, vice-like grip on how long Disney classics — that is to say, animated features — could be purchased for sale on home video. (While primarily an intangible principle that governed the release of VHS tapes, Disney’s archives is also called “The Vault.”)

The concept was effectively an echo of what the company had been practicing theatrically since the mid-1940s: periodically re-releasing features to the big screen whenever the powers that be deemed it fit. When VHS, the coffin-shaped home video system that revolutionized the domestic film experience, hit the commercial market in the 1980s, Disney execs were initially reticent to “sully” their cherished backlog by allowing anyone to own a copy.

However, when the House of Mouse learned there was a boat-load of money to be made, the detractors relented and the concept of the Disney Vault was born: films would emerge for a limited time, creating a sense of scarcity that no doubt boosted sales. The Disney Vault ran its course in 2019, when Disney+ provided the company with a new, modern, way to keep a chokehold on their IP.

This is a long walk to get to today’s topic. Namely: the original wave of Disney animated sequels that came out of the studio’s foray into the home video market. And while Disney was certainly precious about their canon of masterpieces, the general understanding (on the part of anyone with eyes) is that there was less care, money, and effort allotted to these DTV sequels.

I’m sure there are defenders of 1997’s Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas out there. Heck, I’ve heard people go to bat for 1994’s The Return of Jafar. But as someone who grew up during this Disney DTV sequel period I’m here to get one thing straight: one sequel reigns supreme.

No, it’s not The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride (which comes in at a close second), it’s the third Lion King sequel: The Lion King 1½.

Directed by Bradley Raymond (hot off the sequels to Pocahontas and The Hunchback of Notre Dame), The Lion King 1½ takes place during the events of the first film, but it is told from the perspective of Timon (Nathan Lane) and Pumbaa (Ernie Sabella) who narrate their side of the story. I’m not saying that there’s a Roshomon to The Lion King 1½ pipeline, but I’m also saying exactly that. The film follows how the pair met, the duo’s attempts to raise their adopted lion cub son, and what they were up to while we were following Simba’s story.

Irreverent, fourth-wall breaking, and delightfully low-stakes, The Lion King 1½ rules, and if you won’t believe me, maybe you’ll believe this feature-length video essay:

Watch “The Lion King and Disney’s Sequel Curse”:

Who made this?

This video on the incredible Disney sequel The Lion King 1 ½ is by Jace, a.k.a  BREADSWORD, an LA-based video essayist who specializes in long-form nostalgia-heavy love letters. Impeccably edited and smoother than butter, BREADSWORD essays boast an unparalleled relaxed fit and an expressive narrative tone. Long essays like this take a lot of time to put together, and somehow BREADSWORD makes it all look effortless. You can subscribe to them on YouTube here. And you can follow them on Twitter here.

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    Meg Shields: Meg has been writing professionally about all things film-related since 2016. She is a Senior Contributor at Film School Rejects as well as a Curator for One Perfect Shot. She has attended international film festivals such as TIFF, Hot Docs, and the Nitrate Picture Show as a member of the press. In her day job as an archivist and records manager, she regularly works with physical media and is committed to ensuring ongoing physical media accessibility in the digital age. You can find more of Meg's work at Cinema Scope, Dead Central, and Nonfics. She has also appeared on a number of film-related podcasts, including All the President's Minutes, Zodiac: Chronicle, Cannes I Kick It?, and Junk Filter. Her work has been shared on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour, Business Insider, and CherryPicks. Meg has a B.A. from the University of King's College and a Master of Information degree from the University of Toronto.