After Riverdancing out of the hyenas' lair, Anteater and Pork Roast go back to looking for their dream home. Anteater's trying to look beyond what he sees, but he stops at the sight of Pork Roast's gigantic ass. You're probably asking, "Why doesn't Anteater hop on Pork Roast's head?" Because it's 21st-century Disney. They don't respect their fans enough to make the ancillary characters halfway decent. Anyway, the camera looks past Pork Roast's tush, and we hear another cheesy choir chant.
It's the wildebeest gorge—which means Mufasa's about to die. And of course Disney's going to crap all over it.
Once he and Pork Roast are inside the gorge, Anteater is sweating his bunions off, but he once again tries to console himself that it's home. Odd coming from him, right? He's pretty used to living out in the hot sand. Then again, he spent most of the time digging tunnahs (and the rest of the time destroying them). Plus, there's no nook or cranny or even a tunnah in the gorge—which they'll need right about now. The ground starts to shake, and the film recycles more footage: eagles cry out, and wildebeest run down the slope of the gorge. Once again, my heart starts to drop, but not for long. As the rocks start to jostle, Pork Roast forces a smile and says, "Shall we run for our lives?" and Anteater replies, "Oh, yes, let's."
They take off screaming, and the wildebeest run past the camera. As the brutes gain ground on Anteater and Pork Roast, dust fills the camera. It dissipates, and Anteater and Pork Roast are on top of a wildebeest that's about to run straight at a cliff. No joke. Anteater lays on the melodrama with an operatic "Goodbye, cruel wo-o-o-orld!" and the wildebeest skids to a stop, sending them flying in slow motion.
Pork Roast does a full somersault and lands in a nearby river with barely a splash. Around them, the wildebeest are standing peacefully, grazing in the dirt. Anteater congratulates himself on surviving; then, he hears roaring water and looks behind him. The river's about to drop off into a waterfall that isn't Victoria Falls. Anteater asks if it's possible to fall off the edge of the earth, but luckily Pork Roast knows his science (as do most kids who were born after 1492). The camera does three truckbacks to show the huge extent of Not Victoria Falls. After three musical cues, Anteater and Pork Roast plunge down the waterfall. Finally.
Midway through their fall, Pork Roast pauses the film to step offscreen for a while. Meanwhile, Anteater occupies himself with picking his nose, stretching his neck, and humming "It's a Small World"—which is actually a nice nod to Disney and to the original Lion King. Pork Roast comes back with a theater-style bag of crunchy grubs. He got the jumbo size so they could share. Aww. A click of the remote continues their perilous plunge down Not Victoria Falls, and they and their screams vanish in the cloud of mist below.
The scene dissolves, and we're a pretty good distance downstream. It's now twilight, so Mufasa's officially dead, young Simba's in the desert (and not too far from the oasis, by the way), and the memorial service/coronation/hyena alliance is about to start at Pride Rock. But of course Anteater and Pork Roast have no idea. Somehow, they've been either swimming or underwater all day. Finally, Pork Roast appears above the water, gasping for breath, and an unconscious Anteater clings to his tail. A sad song plays on the world's smallest violin, and Pork Roast collapses onto the rock and coughs up two huge lungfuls of water. Gross. A not-too-waterlogged Anteater moans despairingly behind him, and the camera stares at him for way longer than necessary. He's waving a white flower of surrender, and Pork Roast pleas to him not to give up because they still haven't found their dream home. (They already did—actually, Pork Roast did before he ever met Anteater—but Disney keeps having them wander around aimlessly to drag out a flimsy plotline.) Anteater calls it quits. "I've been dragging you down long enough. I'm going home, and I suggest you do the same." Pork Roast says he can't, because he doesn't have a home to go back to. He hides his sad face as Anteater asks why. Without answering, Pork Roast moans like a puppy and shows him a face full of teary eyes. He's all alone. (No. I'm not getting misty-eyed. I am absolutely not getting misty-eyed. No. No way. I'm just cutting onions. That's all.) Anteater gets it, and he seems to feel Pork Roast's pain. He and holds Pork Roast's hoof and says. "Truth is, I'm all alone, too. You're the only friend I've ever had." They share a big round of bromance, complete with smiles and happy eyes and Anteater actually saying something meaningful: "Friends stick together 'til the end."
It's actually a nice moment. But Disney kills it (as usual). Back in the theater, Anteater's crying, and he does two things that are too useless to mention.
Back to the story within the story. Anteater and Pork Roast are officially friends, and they have no idea that the king of the Pride Lands has just been murdered. That's actually OK. When I saw their friendship scene, I was able to stop thinking about their home searching and finally concentrate on them. It's the first time this film has felt genuine. I even partially forgot that Mufasa had just died and that Scar was now king.
Dude—I might be starting to like this film.
One of Pork Roast's eyes cross-dissolves into the moon. Another dissolve later, and it's dawn, and the twosome are sleeping back-to-back on the rock as the sun gently awakens them. Anteater laments that they never found that dream home, but Pork Roast perks up and tells Anteater that he's giving up too soon. He puts a hoof on Anteater's head. The camera pans a half-circle around him and shows us the oasis. Sure enough, they've been at the border of it all night. Pork Roast should be getting the credit, but Anteater (once again) takes it. "Forget about your place!" he says. "Look at what I found!"
Latin American music kicks up, and we get shots of the dream home—lush landscapes (major kudos to Disney for making them gorgeous), a porch swing made out of vines, a hot spring that doubles as a hot tub and sauna, and tree trunks full of grubs. As they celebrate, Pork Roast whips up several meals out of grubs. Anteater comes out of the spa (which no longer has bubbles rising to the surface, by the way), and he dries himself with a large leaf. "[Shaman Monkey] had the perfect name for it, too. Such a wonderful phrase." With those last few words, even the youngest of kids will get it. But Anteater (our resident genius) has no clue—of course. Pork Roast rattles off several dishes with names that rhyme with that wonderful phrase, and even then, Anteater doesn't get it. He flips out at Pork Roast for not taking notice, and Pork Roast takes it in stride. "Meh, Hakuna Matata."
And we jump to a song.
And no. I'm not going to spork it. I don't even have the strength to spork it. It's just an obnoxious big band-style karaoke. We get nothing new, nothing interesting, nothing even remotely sporkworthy.
Let's just jump to the next scene.
Marge: "Ha-hu-na Ma-what-a?"
Shaman Monkey: "'Hakuna Matata.'" It means no worries.
Oh, yeah. Marge is back. (Did I mention I like her?) But what the hell is Shaman Monkey doing? Why isn't he mourning Mufasa's death? And what business does he have out at the tunnahs? Characters ought to do things for a reason, and that reason can't be to drop infobombs or make characters do the writers' bidding.
Whatever. I'm just glad to be away from Anteater for a while.
Shaman brings Marge up to speed: "So, I told de boy, 'To find Hakuna Matata, you must look beyo-o-ond what you see.'" You know, the way he says it is so grandfatherly and kind. After three films, he still wins me over. "Oh," says Marge with a bit of whimsy. "A metaphor." She then proceeds to take his stick and whack his head with it. Yeah—she freaking pummels him. Dude...I love her. She is so honest and irreverent, which makes her perfect for this film.
Anyway, she squashes Shaman's head and tugs on his goatee, making him regret that he hasn't had a shave in a thousand years. "You used a metaphor on Anteater? He takes things literally!" True. Anteater built a skylight, to literally "shed light on their pathetic existence," and he's been looking beyo-o-o-ond what he's seen ever since he met Shaman Monkey.
Marge thinks something awful's happened to Anteater and she has to bail him out. She shouts down to the tunnah entrance: "Max, Anteater's out there chasing metaphors! I've gotta go find him!" (Yeah—bright idea if she wants to get squashed by a rhino, take a plunge over Not Victoria Falls, and follow the stench of warthog flatulence.) Sure enough, Max's voice echoes from inside the tunnah: "Are you nuts?!" and the ground around them rumbles and shakes despite his less-than-thundering voice. Marge says with an oh-so-delicious bit of resignation and sarcasm, "Nice to have a supportive family, isn't it?" As a soft choir plays, Shaman drops a proverb: "The journey of a thousand miles begins with de first step." It's useless because Marge was already planning to leave. So why would Disney have him say this? Because they're setting up a joke. And it's pretty funny. Marge says, "Here's my first step"—and she leaps off the rock and smashes his foot.
Unfortunately, I can't end this sporking on a delightful note. Because I just realized something:
This whole movie is a lie.
I know I'm making a bold claim, but bear with me. In the original TLK film, Anteater and Pork Roast were drifters and squatters. When they brought Simba into the oasis, Anteater said, "We live wherever we want," and Pork Roast said, "Home is where your rump rests." But in this film, they're not drifters. They're homeless outcasts. Every time they tried to put down roots, they were scared or chased off. Which means they lied to Simba in the first film, they're lying to their audience now, or Disney is bending their storyline just to make this film possible.
Guess which one I'm going with.
Disney continues to lose my respect with their shoddy business model. All they seem to care about are profits and sequel opportunities. Simba's Pride, High School Musical, Frozen—they've all ranged from mediocre to terrible, and their sequels and spinoffs are no better. They don't focus on art, consistency, decent storytelling, or respecting their audiences. They're just another entertainment mill.
But here's the saddest part: This movie has so little sporkworthy material. The jokes are predictable and cliché, the bathroom humor is rampant, and with pitifully few exceptions, this movie can't be irreverent enough to be halfway funny or intelligent. But now it can't even be internally consistent with the rest of the saga.
And that's just sad.