The Lion King II: Simba's Pride
November 18, 2020
(The Channel Awesome logo is shown, followed by the NC title sequence)
NC: Hello, I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don't have to. When it comes to...
(A shot is shown of a pile of DVD releases of various Lion King movies)
NC (vo): ...Lion King spinoffs, one rule is clear: (A shot of a black man from a movie (I forget what) is superimposed) "You don't fuck with the money."
NC (vo): From shows to remakes to... (An image of a little girl with a confused look on her face is superimposed) both?...Lion King has become one of Disney's biggest golden calves, to a point where I'm waiting for them to introduce (An image of a calf with a flower crown is edited in) a calf named Goldie... (Cut to a shot of a crowd of Disney princesses, with Goldie the calf added in here, her head covering that of Aurora) ...and make her a Disney princess.
(A shot of another TV show, The Lion King's Timon & Pumbaa, is shown, as well as a shot of the live-action remake's 4K HD + Blu-Ray release (at Best Buy, apparently))
NC (vo): While some were entertaining and others scalped feelings you didn't know could be scalped... (Cut to a shot of a promo for today's topic) ...this film was somewhere in between.
(As we cut back to NC, the live-action remake's poster is shown once again, and NC glances toward it)
NC: ...Leaning towards the good end.
(The title for this movie is shown, followed by footage of it)
NC (vo): Released in 1998, Lion King II: Simba's Pride, I find fascinating for a couple reasons. Firstly, it's one of the highest-selling direct-to-video movies ever made, with over 465 million in sales worldwide. Second, despite it being a direct-to-video movie from Disney, an early one at that, people widely enjoyed this film, despite these sequels usually getting a bad reputation. It did seem like the direct-to-video movie that had the most effort put into it at the time, with the previous sequels being...
NC (vo): ...Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast and Pocahontas.
(Cut back to Lion King II)
NC (vo): But years later, people still seem to have a soft spot for the follow-up to one of the biggest animated movies of all time, and that's no small feat. So, what did Lion King II do that so many other Disney sequels couldn't get right in the past...
(Shots of sequels to newer Disney sequels are shown: Alice Through the Looking Glass, Frozen II, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil)
NC (vo): ...and totally not the present? Man, so many Godfather IIs!
NC: Well, let's head back to (A shot of Kovu's darkened is shown in the upper-left corner) darkened eyes and (A shot of Simba singing "We Are One" is shown in the upper-right corner) dubbed singers to find out. This is Lion King II: Simba's Pride.
(The movie begins with an opening similar, but not identical, to that of the first movie)
NC (vo): Right off the bat, there's a few things you might pick up on, first being while the animation's not bad, it's certainly not the original. Keep in mind, this was still straight to video, and their others sequels...
(Cut to a clip of the Sultan in The Return of Jafar; the quality there is clearly inferior to the original as he holds up a fork)
NC (vo): ...had looked like limp dicks.
(Cut back quickly to Lion King II)
NC (vo): This is a huge upgrade. You might also notice it's different songwriters. Quite a few, actually. But they still brought back Lebo M, who did the African chants in the original, and also one of the songwriters from (Image of the following is superimposed...) Pocahontas II. I know you're expecting a joke about that, but the songs are actually pretty good.
NC: I can like things!
(The movie's opening number "He Lives In You" plays)
Background singer: There's no mountain too great...
NC (vo): Honestly, this intro is kind of refreshing, as while it does mimic "Circle of Life"'s opening number, it still has a different feel. (A shot of the sunrise from the opening of the original is superimposed) There's no roaring yell or sun piercing through the sky, it's a little more laid back. In fact, this song was also used in (A shot of the Broadway play is shown in the corner) the Broadway version, a clever way to sort of tie these two together.
Background singer: He lives in you...
(As Rafiki steps out to the edge of Pride Rock to show off Simba and Nala's new cub, Kiara, he spreads out his arms and the camera pans up to the sky to show a heavenly image of Mufasa peeking out from the clouds)
NC (vo; as Mufasa): Even as a ghost, I show up to my grandkid's shit. On Simba's day, my father just sent (A shot of a stained five-dollar bill is shown) a whiskey-stained five and (A shot of a birthday card reading, plainly, "Happy Birthday", with a generic birthday cake on it) a blank birthday card. (A shot of a Lion King-themed birthday card is shown: a young Simba with the phrase "Roarsome Birthday!") It wasn't even a Lion King card!
(Timon and Pumbaa are among the crowd of animals on hand)
Timon (voice of Nathan Lane): (sighs) Pumbaa, look at that little guy.
Rafiki (voice of Robert Guillaume): (holding Kiara) It is a girl.
Timon and Pumbaa (voice of Ernie Sabella): (shocked beyond belief) GIRL?!?! Oy... (they both fall over in a faint)
NC: (laughs) Vaginas suck!
NC (vo): The daughter's name is Kiara, voiced by Michelle Horn, and the rest of the voice actors are mostly the original cast, with the exception of Zazu, now voiced by Edward Hibbert, who is always called in to (A shot of Mary Poppins' parrot-head umbrella in Mary Poppins Returns is shown in the corner) replace Disney birds.
Simba (voice of Matthew Broderick): And stay away from the Outlands.
Zazu: Nothing there but a bunch of backstabbing outsiiiiiders.
Simba: You can't turn your back on them.
Kiara: How come?
(As Simba is shown, a shot of Darryl Weathers from South Park is shown in the corner saying that classic line...)
Darryl: They took our jobs! (...which of course sounds like (and written as) "THEY TERK ERR JERBS!")
Nala (voice of Moira Kelly): Oh, Simba, who does she remind you of?
NC (vo; as Simba): Hey, hey! She looks nothing like my secretary! (as Nala) You have a secretary? (as Simba) Gotta go.
(Suddenly, Kiara hears a noise and turns to see what it is. Suddenly, she screams at what it is. It's Timon and Pumbaa, who both scream in response. This goes on for a brief period of time, as the three all alternately scream while dramatic music plays)
NC: When you realize this is this film's equivalent of (A shot in the corner appears of the wildebeest stampede in the original) the stampede scene.
NC (vo): Timon and Pumbaa are put in charge of babysitting her, which is like (A shot of Ted Nugent holding up guns while having a guitar on his person is shown in the corner) Ted Nugent babysit bullets; something's gonna happen! But Kiara slips away and heads towards the Outlands, which is the Shadowlands, but with pussy.
(As she enters the Outlands, Kiara slips and falls down and bumps into a young, darker-skinned male lion cub, upsetting him)
Male lion cub (voice of Ryan O'Donohue): Who are you, Pride Lander?
NC (vo): She bumps into another lion cub named Kovu.
Kiara: (upset) My father says to never turn your back on an outsider!
Kovu: You always do what Daddy says?
NC (vo; as Kiara): I don't know, I have to ask Daddy!
(Kovu confidently strides out across a river on what seems like a log (actually a crocodile))
Kovu: (confidently) An outsider doesn't need anybody. I take care of myself.
NC: (as Kovu) Three-horns never play with sequel bait!
NC (vo): They're attacked by croco-gators, and they save each other, narrowly escaping.
Kiara: You were really brave.
Kovu: You were pretty brave, too. My name's Kovu.
Kiara: (giggles, looks at him sweetly) I'm Kiara.
NC: (as Kiara) My mother taught me this look...
(As we cut back to Kiara and Kovu, a shot of Nala from the original movie is shown in the corner)
NC (vo; as Kiara): ...that confused generations of boys.
NC: (as Kiara) Is it working?
(Suddenly, Simba runs up, roaring. As this happens, an evil-looking lioness named Zira runs up, also roaring)
NC (vo): It looks like Kovu is the son of Zira, played by Suzanne Pleshette (pronounces it "Pleshe-TAY")... Oh, this'll be the greatest sequel ever made...
(Cut to the ending of the final episode of Newhart, showing Bob Hartley (played by Bob Newhart) lying awake in bed with his wife Emily (played by Pleshette), but with Emily's head replaced by that of Zira)
NC (vo): ...if it ends like this!
(Cut back to Lion King II)
NC (vo): ...as it looks like the Outlands and the Pride Land are feuding packs.
Zira: We have barely begun. (chuckles sinisterly)
NC (vo): As you can guess, Zira is this movie's version of Scar, which is humorous, seeing how she's female, yet (An image of Scar is added on the side) Scar is far more feminine.
Zira: (about Kovu) He was hand-chosen by Scar to follow in his pawprints and become...king.
NC: (confused) Missed that from the original!
(A clip of the original movie is shown, showing the Pride Lands in ruins as a result of Scar's reign)
NC (vo): Don't worry, they'll fix it up in the special edition.
Zazu: (singing while imprisoned) ...the trouble I've seen...
(Kovu pops up briefly)
NC (vo; as Kovu): Hi!
Scar: (to Zazu) Sing something with a little...bounce in it.
NC (vo; as Kovu): You've got it!
(Kovu pops up and sings Jedi Rocks from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi lively while disco lights shine around. Then cut back to Lion King II)
Zira: (to Kovu) If you need your pound of flesh...here... (pushes him close to Simba's scowling face)
NC: Wow, it's like Sophie's Choice, only nobody even asked!
NC (vo): As you'd imagine, Kiara and Kovu are told they can never see each other again.
Simba: (to Kiara) As future queen...
Kiara: What if I don't want to be queen?
Simba: That's like saying you don't want to be a lion. It's in your blood. We are part of each other.
NC: (as Kiara) And if there's one to two males in every pack, yet we're...
(A shot of Nala and the other lionesses from the original movie is shown)
NC (vo; as Kiara): ...mostly female, then how am I–
NC: (as Kiara) How are you related to Nala again?
NC (vo): One of Broderick's many dub singers comes in and sings a nice little song called "We Are One" – right after telling her they should all stay divided.
Simba: (singing (which is provided by Cam Clarke)) We are one...
NC: Am I the only one, by the way, that thought...
NC (vo): ...that was Pride Rock and Simba turned into a giant? Just me? Fuck y'all then.
(We then cut to the Outlands, where we meet Kovu's brother Nuka, who is addressing his and Kovu's younger sister Vitani as she gnaws on a tree branch)
Nuka (voice of Andy Dick): Oh, hey, Vitani. Where's the little termite Kovu?
NC (vo): Meanwhile, in the Outlands, the most Andy Dick lion, played by... (image of...) Sinbad– no, Andy Dick, is frustrated because he's the older brother of Kovu and therefore thinks he should be king.
Nuka: (vigorously scratching his back) I'm smart as– (yells) These termites! (vigorously scratches and bites himself)
NC: I'd be okay if we just replaced his performance with...
(As we cut back to Nuka, a shot of Andy Dick in The Aristocrats is shown in the corner)
NC (vo): ...his joke from The Aristocrats.
NC: We'd be teaching kids the classics.
Zira: (to a cowering Kovu) Who has made us outsiders?
Zira: Who killed Scar?
NC: (as Zira) Who said you couldn't be Scar's son because that would make the romantic lead your cousin? (as Kovu) Michael Eisner?
(As this happens, a snippet of the Wikipedia article on the film is shown stating that, during production, Michael Eisner wanted Kovu's relationship with Scar changed because Kovu being Scar's son would mean he is Kiara's first cousin once-removed)
NC: (as Zira) Yes, yes! He gets it right once in a while.
NC (vo): She sings the villain song "My Lullaby", which is hard not to compare (A shot of the song "Be Prepared" in the original is shown in the corner) to "Be Prepared", but the orchestrations are still pretty cool and give it an intimidating-enough sound.
Zira: (singing) The sound of Simba's dying gasp... (Nuka gasps and pretends to die) His daughter squealing in my grasp! (Nuka roughly holds up his own sister)
NC: You know, the Pride Lands really are in a bad spot. It's surrounded by...
NC (vo): ...muddy smoke, scorching heat, and unpleasant locals.
NC: It's pretty much (A shot of Cinderella Castle appears in the corner) Disney World in the middle of Florida!
NC (vo): Years pass, and Kovu grows older, now voiced by Jason Marsden, who's ready to infiltrate Simba's home.
Kovu: I will avenge Scar.
Zira: What is your destiny?
NC (vo; as Kovu): My soul belongs to Yubaba. (as Zira) Wrong animated flick with us in it! Though, nice to see you again. (as Kovu) Wanna find a grilled cheese truck after recording? (as Zira) I'd like that. (normal) Kiara as well grows older, played now by Neve Campbell, who's starting her first hunt. Timon and Pumbaa are instructed to follow her.
Timon: Tango-Charley-Alpha. What's your position?
Pumbaa: Tail erect.
NC: Movie, if you're not gonna make it hard for me... Even my jokes about making jokes are doing it!
NC (vo): But the lions from the Outlands set Photoshop filter fires, and Kiara is caught in the middle of it.
(Kiara clings to a cliff, struggling to climb up over it, which she manages to do so after some effort)
NC: (as Kiara) Wow, that was super easy! (Shots of Mufasa and Simba clinging to a cliff in the first movie are shown off to the sides) Why does that trip up the boys so much?
NC (vo): She passes out, though, and Kovu takes the opportunity to save her. Good thing they knew exactly where she was gonna pass out in the direction the flames were going.
Simba: (to Kovu) You saved her? Why?
Kovu: I humbly ask to join your pride.
NC (vo): Kovu explains how he saved Kiara and that he left Zira, with none of them being aware that he's still in cahoots with her.
Nala: (to Simba) You owe him your daughter's life.
Zazu: Clearly, we are in his debt, and royal protocol demands that all debts be paid.
NC: (as Nala) Okay, fine, we'll try killing his daughter, he'll rescue her, then we'll be even!
NC (vo): They allow Kovu to enter the Pride Lands, but it's made clear he's not one of them.
Kovu: (to Kiara) You wouldn't last three days on your own.
Kiara: Oh, and I suppose you could teach me?
NC (vo; as Kiara): Damn it, why wasn't this a Disney remake so I could start off perfect and boring with no improvements needed?
(We then cut back to the Outlands, where Zira is addressing Nuka)
Zira: (holding up her claws) And once he has Simba alone...
(With a snarl, she swipes her claws at Nuka, who ducks. Zira ends up tearing a tree he's standing in front of to shreds)
NC: (worried) He'll do his gardening?
(On that note, we go to a commercial break. Upon return, the movie resumes as Simba is dreaming of the moment when Mufasa died. He is at the top of the ledge, reaching down for Mufasa, who is just out of reach. Scar is above Simba, laughing on the rocks against the moonlight)
NC (vo): In a pretty cool dream sequence, Simba tries saving his father, only to be held back by Scar.
(Cut right after Mufasa slides down on the gorge, Simba turns on Scar, above him)
(Scar, laughing, slowly morphs into Kovu)
NC (vo; as Simba): Less cool Scar!
(Kovu suddenly lets go, throwing Simba down to his doom)
(Cut quickly to Simba as he awakens for a nightmare and looks around in fright)
NC (vo; as Simba): I had a dream I almost acted! Thank God I'm still Matthew Broderick. (normal) Kovu shows Kiara how to be a better hunter, and all of this is surprisingly very believable. It makes sense that he would be better, as that's all he's been taught ever since he was a kid. He didn't even know what playing was because he's only been shown how to be a killer.
(An earlier scene of the younger Kiara and Kovu is shown)
Kiara: What's the matter? Don't you know how to play? (Kovu stares, and Kiara reacts in shame) Oh...
(The movie resumes)
NC (vo): Where Simba always kept too close an eye on Kiara, coddling her too much. Their [Kovu and Kiara's] chemistry works very well, too, with Kovu at first not being interested, but the more he shows Kiara how to hunt, the more she shows him how to enjoy life. As you'd probably put together, this is a retelling of "Romeo and Juliet", which makes sense, as the first film was clearly "Hamlet". This had been played for laughs in other variations, but both performers take their roles seriously enough for this to work.
Kiara: My father said there was a...a darkness...in Scar that he couldn't escape.
Kovu: Maybe there's a darkness in me, too.
Kiara: It doesn't seem like just another paycheck for them; they sound like they want to turn in something legitimately emotional and authentic.
Kovu: (to Simba) Judge me now for who I am. Or am I to be blamed for a crime I didn't commit?
(Cut to another scene)
Kiara: (to Kovu) Our place is with our pride. If we run away, they'll be divided forever.
NC (vo): I surprisingly get into these new characters more than I do the old characters, who I can't really say are bad, but I can't really say are good, either.
Pumbaa: (to Timon about Kovu) Maybe he could help.
Timon: (sarcastically) Right, let the vicious outsider– (gets an idea) Hey, wait! (gestures toward Kovu) What if he helps?
NC: (as Timon) You know, kids, you can just chapter-skip my lines from the first film. I'll judge, but quietly.
NC (vo): Rafiki sees possibilities in their blooming romance and decides to sing a catchy but...kinda pointless song.
Rafiki: (singing) In Upendi, where the passion fruit goes sweet...
NC: I don't know, I just get less high romance out of this and more...cereal commercial.
Rafiki: (singing) You better watch your step, 'cause the path is steep...
(Cut to a clip of a commercial for Kellogg's Cocoa Krispies, showing its mascot, a monkey named Coco)
Coco: (singing) Wherever I go with my Cocoa Krispies...
(Cut back to Lion King II)
Rafiki and various jungle animals: In Upendi...
(Cut to a clip of another Kellogg's cereal commercial, this one featuring the Rice Krispies elves hocking Fruity Marshmallow Krispies)
Background singers: Fruity Marshmallow Krispies! Snap, crackle, poppin', over lots of fruit taste!
(Cut back to Lion King II again)
NC (vo): Regardless, African "Under the Sea" is fun and colorful, and even Simba opens up to their bond and invites Kovu to sleep with the pack, despite it leading to some slightly awkward animation.
Simba: Kiara, I don't want you talking with him! I want to talk with him.
(Kovu and Kiara look on in confusion as Simba smiles suggestively while smooth jazz-sounding music plays in the background. Simba winks)
NC: (suggestively deep voice) The lion sleeps tonight... Oh, yeah... (nods)
NC (vo): Simba tells Kovu about the terrible things Scar did, and he starts to change his point of view. However, the lions from the Outlands have not.
Zira: Well done, Kovu. Just like we always planned.
Simba: (turning sharply to Kovu) You!
Kovu: No! I didn't have anything to do with this!
NC: (as Kovu) We'll just replace "any" with "every", and you'll be closer to how things went down!
NC (vo): The lions attack, but Kovu saves Simba, accidentally sacrificing his brother in the process.
Nuka: (whispering weakly) I tried...
Zira: Shh... (Nuka dies)
NC (vo; as Zira): I shall always remember you...other one.
(In a rage, Zira turns to Kovu)
(She slashes Kovu's face so hard that she leaves a familiar-looking scar on it. She snarls at him and he glares at him, gasping for breath)
NC: (as Zira) Ha-ha! You look more like Scar now, which... (shrugs) doesn't add a ton to the story, but it looks kinda cute. I might get one.
NC (vo): Kovu runs away and Simba returns home, telling everyone what happened. And give Timon and Pumbaa credit: this is a pretty good laugh.
(Timon and Pumbaa see Kovu return)
NC (vo): (running out with his arms balled into fists) Let me at him, let me at him! (holds up his tail to Pumbaa) Here, hold me back.
Pumbaa: Okay. (takes tail)
Timon: (being pulled back by his tail) Let me at him, let me at him!
Pumbaa: Okay. (lets tail go)
NC: They don't always hit, but when they do, they reach the bleachers.
NC (vo): Simba banishes Kovu, and while you could see this as another liar revealed/third-act breakup, which usually sucks ass in movies, the acting, as well as the fact that he's still torn between both sides, still keeps it pretty engaging. The song while he's being tossed out is also pretty good, though the staging can be a little odd at times.
(Said song, "Not One of Us", plays as Kovu leaves)
Antelope: (singing) Deception...
Zebra: (singing) Disgrace...
NC: No! Not the antelope and the zebra! They were the swing animals!
NC (vo): Kiara tries to defend Kovu, but Simba won't listen, resulting in her running off and singing another song, despite...we just...got done with one.
(We hear briefly hear said song,"Love Will Find a Way")
Offscreen voice: (singing on Kiara's behalf) I may not be brave or strong or smart...
NC: Wow, your inner voice is kind of a bitch to you.
Offscreen voice: (singing) ...but somewhere in my secret heart...
NC: ...That makes awkward rhymes.
(Kovu spots Kiara and eagerly runs toward her)
Another offscreen voice: (singing on Kovu's behalf) Love is never wrong and so it never dies...
NC (vo): And so does he, for that matter. You two really were meant for each other!
Kovu: Hey, look. (They look into a small pool and see their reflections in it) We are one.
NC: (confused) I think we just saw our (A shot of The Hunchback of Notre Dame II is shown in the corner) "Hunchback II beauty is on the inside" moment.
NC (vo): Even Kiara looks shocked that line was in this.
Kiara: (surprised, hushed) What?
(Meanwhile, a storm breaks over the Pride Lands as Zira and the Outlanders invade)
(The Outlands charge at Simba and the Pride Land lions, who all charge at Zira and the Outlanders)
NC (vo): The lions from the Outlands decide to attack while Simba is injured. Well, there's no other way to say it...
(Cut to a clip of an episode of Seinfeld)
Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards): Cat fight?
(As we cut back to the movie, the feuding packs fight viciously. Vitani confronts Nala)
Vitani (voice of Jennifer Lien): Where's your pretty daughter, Nala?
(Vitani attacks Nala)
NC (vo; as Vitani): This is our first time meeting in this, but DIE!
(Just then, Kovu and Kiara jump into the middle of the two packs, and they stop fighting)
NC (vo): Kovu and Kiara return and stop the fighting, convincing them that enough is enough.
Kiara: Them? Us. Look at them. They are us.
NC (vo): They all decide to stand down, but Zira refuses to concede.
(Zira, unwilling to let go of her past, violently charges at Simba to kill him, but Kiara gets in her way, and the two lionesses go over a cliff. Meanwhile, a pile of logs, forming a makeshift dam, gives way as the river it's holding back flows forth, having been swollen by the storm)
Nala: Simba! The river!
NC: (as Nala) Also, we build dams?! Lions do that?!
(Zira is clinging to the cliff as the river flows below her. Kiara, having climbed back up, reaches out to her)
Kiara: (reaching out her paw) Zira, give me your paw!
(Instead of taking it, however, Zira, still consumed by her hate, tries to lash out at Kiara. In doing so, however, she starts to slip. She looks down at the river below)
NC (vo; as Zira): All right, I've always wanted to say this...long live the Queen.
(When it becomes clear that she is doomed if she doesn't let go of her past, Zira instead releases her grip on the cliff and falls to her doom into the river below)
NC (vo): Zira is literally washed up, and Simba unbanishes the lions from the Outlands.
(As triumphant music plays, Simba and then Kovu let out a mighty roar. Then a shot of an episode from The Simpsons is shown in the corner: Bart Simpson meeting Conan O'Brien)
NC (vo; as Conan): Remain perfectly still. Only I may roar.
(Up in the sky, the clouds part and a ray of sunlight shines down and Mufasa's voice is heard from on high)
Mufasa's voice: Well done, my son.
(As he hears his father, Simba looks up at the sky and smiles. Then some purple flower petals are blown toward him in the wind)
NC (vo; as Mufasa): Have some leafy farts I'm throwing your way.
(And on that note, the movie ends as the first one did: with an abrupt cut to black, save for the words "The End" written in the movie font)
NC: And that was Lion King II: Simba's Pride, and for what it is, it ain't half bad.
(Footage of the movie is shown one last time as NC gives his final thoughts on it)
NC (vo): As direct-to-video films went at the time, it was rare you saw animation or music of this quality. In some other countries, I guess it was even shown on the big screen. It's not as good as the original, but I don't think anyone was really expecting that. It's still colorful, has decent performances, and isn't just a retread of the first movie. Is it a little formulaic? Sure. But for the budget and time restraints most direct-to-video had, I'd say they did a pretty damn good job. If you're in the mood for not a fantastic, but a decent follow-up to one of the biggest movies ever made, check this out. It's better than it honestly has any right to be.
NC: I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don't have to. (gets up and leaves)
Channel Awesome tagline – Timon: What's your position?
Pumbaa: Tail erect.
(The credits roll)