I'm not your typical Lion King fan. I like Simba's Pride, but not enough to love it; I dislike it enough to spork it, but not out of hate. I sporked it as though it were a little brother or cousin: I teased because I loved. And I really do like Simba's Pride. Kind of.

But as I start to spork The Lion King 1 1/2 (a.k.a. The Lion King 3: Hakuna Matata), even my gut keeps telling me I'll regret the next 77 minutes of my life. This story is a retelling of The Lion King, and it's from Timon's (Anteater's) perspective. It wouldn't be so bad, except Anteater has proven himself to be utterly annoying and useless since Simba's Pride.

So yeah, I think this movie's going to blow.

Cue the Disney title card, and we hear the jungle starting to stir. The original title begins to play, and Anteater starts singing in a voice that makes Gilbert Gottfried as easy to listen to as Paul Harvey.

Wha-a-a-at's on the menu?
It could be ceviche
It's stinky

It's Pumbaa, ahh….

Thirty-one seconds in, and this is already incredibly awkward.

A silhouetted hand appears and clicks a remote control; the opening scene pauses—and the film starts fast-forwarding through the original movie. The hand is Anteater's, and he and Pork Roast (Pumbaa) are sitting in a darkened theater in the style of MST3K. (Oh, this is going to be incredibly irreverent. I think I might like it. Kind of.)

The two start to argue over how to tell the story. Anteater wants to start at the point where they save Simba, but Pork Roast says that they should start at the beginning, so they can tell "the story within the story."

*shrugs* OK, I'll bite. If there's a good backstory to tell, I'll probably like it.

Anyway, Anteater does something he did in the last two films: He takes Pork Roast's idea and acts as though he came up with it himself. (Kudos for being consistent, at least.) He then says, "We're going way back...to before the beginning." The sunrise plays in reverse, and the title card plays. After that, we get a shot of Pride Rock—"bizarrely named," as Anteater puts it. He complains about how a rock isn't supposed to have any pride, but Pork Roast reminds him a pride is a group of lions. "Oh, sure, the lions get Pride Rock," says Anteater. "What about us meerkats? Where I come from, we didn't have nothin' to be proud of!" With that, he clicks the remote and sends the camera trucking backward rapidly out of the Pride Lands through the Elephant Graveyard across the wildebeest gorge past Shaman Monkey's tree through an ostrich's legs and out in the deserts where—the camera screeches to a halt in the middle of the desert.

"Here we are," Anteater says: "from Pride Rock to the pit of shame. We're so low on the food chain, we're underground. But you don't have to take my word for it. I'll just let my fellow meerkats do the talking."

Right away, background music starts up, and it's got a rhythm and a chant to it. Get ready to cringe, everyone—a song's about to start.

The meerkats dash up from holes in the ground. "Shh!" "Where?" "What?" "What was that?" They turn their heads rhythmically, and we hear what sounds like several camera shutters snapping at the same time. The whole colony abuses the English language with a chant of "Quick, before the hyena come!"

Ooh, are you thinking what I'm thinking you're thinking? I think so! They're bringing the hyenas back. This is one bit of re-telling I like—bringing back original characters who deserve an encore.

Anyway, a meerkat cocks his head, and in a voice that sounds like Pamela Hayden from the Bronx, he shouts, "Clee-ah!" On cue, the colony hauls it underground.

Digga tunnah,
Dig, digga tunnah
When you're done ya dig a bigga tunnah
Digga tunnah, Dig, dig a tunnah
Quick, before the hyena come! (Dig!)

Yeeeeahhhh, I am way too old for this.

Digga tunnah,
Dig, digga tunnah
You can dig and never get dunnah

It sounds like Kanye West provided the rhymes. Imagine him rapping his own version of this; the profanity would (probably) be an improvement.

Digga tunnah (Dig a little faster)

Wait...shouldn't it be "fastah"? Heaven forbid they use proper English.

Quick, before the hyena come!

(Note to self, John: Get your mind of the the gutter.)

Digga tunnah is what we do
Life's a tunnah we're diggin' through

That's a pretty decent line, actually.

Digga tunnah is what we sing
Digga tunnah is everything!

It's like Disney's version of a desert religion. Hell, the harmonies even sound like a cheesy '90s Christian song.

Mud and clay is a meerkat's friend
Always more around every bend
And when you get to your tunnah's end
Hallelujah! Let's dig again! (Dig!)

No wonder Anteater hates his home. It's annoying as hell.

Digga tunnah,
Dig, digga tunnah (Digga tunnah)
When you're done ya dig a bigga tunnah.
Digga tunnah, (Dig a little faster)
Dig dig a tunnah

The meerkats march in place, passing rocks to each other. This could not smack any more of kiddie than it already has. (It probably could. I'd better not rush to judgment.)

What was that?
(snap, snap, snap)
Quick, before the hyena come! (Dig!)

The meerkat who shouts into the camera looks like he jumped out of a Nick Park animation. And with that, the song's done.

As the colony continues its chanting and marching, a large female breaks out of line, probably going for a carton of Ho-Hos at the end of the cave. It's Anteater's mother, voiced by Julie Kavner. Kudos to the casting department. Anteater's mom doesn't have a name on IMDb, so until otherwise stated, I'm calling her Marge.

(Yeah, I know—really original. I'm not in the mood to come up with a nickname.)

Marge cuts through the marching and catches up to a beer-bellied meerkat with a crew cut of gray headfur. It's Anteater's uncle, Max, who's voiced by Jerry Stiller (another awesome casting choice). Marge taps him on the shoulder and sends him into a nervous frenzy. She asks if he's seen Anteater, and he hasn't. Which is a good thing. Apparently, Anteater leaves a trail of death, destruction, disasters, fractures, contusions, concussions and abrasions in his wake, and Max is happy none of it has happened—yet.

"As a matter of fact," he hollers on cue, "there's no sign of Anteater's handiwork anywhere!"

There is now. Cracks appear in the ceiling, the ground rumbles, and daylight shines through. The cracking and rumbling subside so that Max can stare at the camera in horror, and the whole ceiling caves in.

The dust clears out, and the underground is above ground. Meerkats dust themselves off, and Max knows exactly what happened. He goes all "That would be . . . ANTEATERRRRRR!"

Meanwhile, Anteater's a short distance away, completely oblivious to what just happened. he's patting down what looks like a basketball hoop without the net. So now we know he was a selfish little ass from day one, because he was so concerned with himself and his little projects that he can't even think of his colony's safety. Fortunately, Max's holler gets Anteater's attention, and Anteater sees everyone fuming at him. If you listen closely, you can hear a meerkat say, "Who else could break a hole?" (LOL!) Marge lets out a hopeless sigh—probably because there aren't any demolition crews who need another man, or because her son's done something like this for the gazillionth time.

Anteater calls his new invention a skylight, "to shed a little light on our pathetic existence." Marge says this can't go on, because in the past month, he's pulled down four walls and collapsed two tunnah exits. Thanks to his distraction, he's risking their survival—even though it takes less than two minutes to sing "Digga Tunnah" and dig more tunnahs. Anteater thinks the whole thing's a waste of time; he wants a better home and wonders what's wrong with wishing to get his ass out of the sand. So is that why he blows up the tunnahs? Because he wants to make his place more presentable? Huh, maybe he does have a selfless bone in his little body, after all.

With that, Marge gives him a reality check. She pulls back the nearby grasses and tells Anteater to look out at the sunset. Right now, "This Land" plays; it's the tune we heard when Mufasa showed young Simba everything the light touched. Anteater takes it in, a smile growing on his face—and then Marge says, "Everything the light touches...belongs to someone else!" On cue, a record needle scratches, and his face drops into a pouty grimace as the grasses pull back over his face. "Funny, I thought you were going a whole other direction with this." Meanwhile, I'm smiling: Those two lines are actually pretty funny. It's also true: There's no light in the tunnahs—well, there would be if Anteater could put in his skylight.

Anteater's not too thrilled at what she said, but Marge reminds him that it's nature's design. Max appears from the grasses, jerks Anteater around by the shoulders, and bloviates about how low they are on the food chain:

MAX: We're food for other animals—a moveable feast! Feared by no one and eaten by all!
ANTEATER: But when they die, they become the grass, and we eat the grass—right?
MAX: Not exactly. We can't digest grass. We're grass-intolerant.

Not sure whether to call that fact or crap. Apparently, meerkats do eat plants.

Anyway, Max throws in a commercial promo of "Meerkat—it's what's for dinner!" (LOL!) and after getting shooed off by Marge, he disappears back into the grass. Anteater's wisecrack sums up my thoughts: "I think Uncle Max dislodged one too many rocks with his skull." Marge says Max is right, anyway: They're prey, and they have to hide and dig tunnahs to survive. Even so, she tells him there's got to be a way for Anteater to fit in at Casbah al-Tunnah; as she tells him this, she swats a fly and uses its guts as hair gel for Anteater's headfur. To make it even more awkward, she looks completely stiff as she does it, and she sounds forced as she delivers her line. A tuft of hair sticks up on the back of his slicked-back hair, and now he needs a few freckles and he'll be a member of "Our Gang."

Just as his hair goes all Alfalfa on him, Max hollers in the background, "All right! Who's on sentry duty?" Sure enough, Marge's face lights up and envisions it: Alfalfa the sentry—er, uh, Anteater the sentry.

"Anteater the sentry?!" says Max. "Why don't you save the hyenas the trouble and kill me now? Just kill me now!" Given their shit existence, that's not such a terrible idea. Even Anteater agrees. But Marge says the job's easy enough: Just watch for hyenas and yell if you see one. When Anteater starts complaining about making sure he gets his perks—you know, above-minimum-wage pay, four meals of grubs, and of course ObamaCare—Marge motions to a meerkat who was the last sentry: Iron Joe.

Do you remember the swamp scene in one of those old Winnie-the-Pooh movies and how terrified Rabbit looked, his neck stretched and his eyes bulging out of his skull? Iron Joe looks exactly like that, and he's babbling and trembling just as Rabbit did. I wouldn't be surprised if Disney did this on purpose, using Rabbit as the model for Iron Joe. Whatever—he looks freaking funny.

Anyway, two marching meerkats carry him off to the nearest straightjacket. Anteater's not thrilled about being the sentry, either, but Marge says the job'll get him out of the tunnahs. Besides, it's either that or putting him back to digga more tunnahs. The entire colony shouts back at Marge with a resounding "NO!" and with that, he's the new Iron Joe, and Marge tells him not to screw up—but of course he will.

So yeah. Lion King movies continue to decline. The original was a masterpiece, the sequel was "Meh," and the midquel so far is awkwardly kiddie.

Why does this bother me—besides the fact that Disney can't do justice to The Lion King to save their lives? Because a kid-friendly movie ought to be family-friendly—accessible to both youngsters and parents. This isn't a lot to ask, is it? We adult Disney fans want to enjoy these movies, too. We want to be part of the magic. Why cordon it off for the kids when you can make into something adults can like, too? Why not pay attention to those adults who want to watch an animation and feel inspired and riveted instead of awkward and embarrassed?

I'll write more on that in my final thoughts.

For now, let's watch Anteater screw up his sentry duty.