Saturday, May 29, 2004
The Lion King 1 ½ (2004)
By Nicholas Stix
I'm going to sound like the Grinch, but I watch TV and feature-length DVD cartoons every day. I can tolerate most of what I see, or I'd have blown my brains out years ago. Some stuff I love (the original Disney Pinocchio, Sleeping Beauty, Finding Nemo, etc.). On the other hand, my son, who just turned four, is pretty easy to please. As long as there's no live action, he's happy. (The exception was the pathetic Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, which could not hold his attention for even one viewing.)
But my son isn't writing this review. To Nathan Lane, I say, "I knew Zero Mostel, he was a friend of mine, and Mr. Lane, you're no Zero Mostel!" Indeed, Nathan Lane embodies the creative mediocrity of the age. When he was about 89, I saw the late Bob Hope (who was far from my favorite comic) for what I believe was the last time he was a late night talk show guest. When Hope, Mr. Timing, missed his mark on his one-liners, I knew it was over for him. For Nathan Lane, it never began.
Then there's the original music - oops, excepting one instantly forgettable opener, there isn't any. Some songs are recycled from the original, and others are ripped off from every source imaginable, including spaghetti westerns, though the producers didn't give proper attribution. Now, some folks will say, I'm using a sledgehammer to kill a flea; after all, it's straight-to-video. But the price is premium. I paid $25 for this dreck, and it lists at $30! If we're not supposed to expect full quality, then charge only $10 or $12, for cryin' out loud. For a premium price, you must deliver premium quality, not leftovers.
What about the story?, you ask. Don't. There is no story to speak of, just recycled characters from the original. But I really shoulda known - just check out the "screenwriter." Tom Rogers should rename himself either "Tom Ripoff" or "Tom II." Look at his credits: Lady and the Tramp II; Cinderella II; The Jungle Book II ... He has never been associated with a quality, original children's movie. Not only is the man a grave robber, but after robbing the dead, he desecrates the corpses! Doesn't Nemo's Law provide special punishments and registries to govern such dastardly, repeat offenders? Where do I go to press charges for the aesthetic abuse of my son? And what about victims' services?!
But it gets worse. Fortunately, I bought this at a store. It turns out that Disc II - which contains featurettes and games – doesn’t function on all DVD players. And so, if you absolutely must see this, wait until you can rent it.