Disney Reviews with the Unshaved Mouse #32: The Lion King

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When The Lion King came out in 1994 I was eleven years old, and starting to develop an interest in movies that extended beyond just watching them. I remember reading a lot of the newspaper articles that came out before, during and after its theatrical run (and there were a lot them, I think we sometimes forget that this movie was an almost Jurassic Park level cultural event). One of the things I remember reading about this movie was that it was the first animated Disney movie not to be based on an existing story. That may strike you as surprising, considering that it’s pretty much cemented in everyone’s mind now as “Disney’s adaptation of Hamlet”, and even Disney themselves have pretty much owned that assessment. But the origins of this movie are a lot hazier than that. From what I can gather, Lion King began in the eighties from a conversation between Jeffrey Katzenberg, Roy Disney and  Peter Schneider (president of Walt Disney Feature Animation) that boiled down to “We should do a movie set in Africa.” “You know what, we should do a movie set in Africa.”   From that conversation the movie took a long and often deeply weird journey to the big screen (in some alternate universe, there’s a version of this movie where Scar is a baboon, Rafiki is a cheetah and ABBA provided the music.) So many different theories and suggestions and accusations have been flung at this movie that its true creative origins may never really be known.

Just who is Simba? Hamlet? Moses? Joseph son of Jacob?  Is he the young Jeffrey Katzenberg, overcoming his own insecurities and self doubt to become the king of the animation jungle? Is he Roy Disney, the heir trying desperately to escape the titanic shadows of his uncle and father? Is he Jesus?

Keyser Soze? The Third Man? A tin of yams? Kobra Kommander? Barbara Streisand? A previously unknown species of racoon? Seventh US Vice President John C Calhoun? STOP ME IF I GET IT!!

Keyser Soze? The Third Man? A tin of yams? Kobra Kommander? Barbara Streisand? A previously unknown species of raccoon? Seventh US Vice President John C Calhoun? STOP ME IF I GET IT!!

But the “Lion King as Hamlet”  story is the one that’s stuck, and for good reason. I don’t just mean the obvious similarities in plot. Hamlet is Shakespeare’s longest play, and the one usually proclaimed as being his best. At well over five hours, you will almost never see the entire text performed fully, meaning that every production cuts and trims the play to create a new version that best reflects the artistic vision of the director and cast. In this way, every production of Hamlet is unique. Some will focus on the relationship between Hamlet and his father. Some focus on his love affair with Ophelia, turning the play into a romantic tragedy. Still others will excise almost every other character and focus on Hamlet’s inner turmoil, turning the play into a psychological study. There are as many potential Halmets as there are stars in the sky. This is because the play is about, well, everything.

Shakespeare took a relatively simply story, the Danish revenge tale Amlethus, and within this finite framework staged one man’s contemplation of the entirety of human existence boiled down to the one single, terrifying question embodied in the play’s most famous line. Those six little words that we’ve all heard so often that their true power is often overlooked.

To be. Or not to be.

Is it better to be alive, or dead? To exist or to not. To be something, or to be nothing. It’s the single most important question. It is, in fact, the question that must be answered before any of the others can even be considered.

If Hamlet seeks to ask the first question, Lion King can be said to ask the second. Obviously this is a Disney movie, so the answer to the first question will always be “To Be.” Disney is all about optimism. Hope. Good triumphing over evil, no matter how powerful or malevolent it is and notwithstanding its ability to turn into a gigantic monster at the end of the third act. So once you’ve answered “To be”, what’s the second question? Well it’s the question we all deal with every day; “How do I live my life?” The Lion King is about finding your place in the world, represented in the movie as The Circle of Life, a natural and harmonious order that is only kept in balance when everyone meets their responsibilities to themselves, to the world and to their fellow creatures.

Oh, are you reviewing Kimba the White Lion? Oh wait...

Oh, are you reviewing Kimba the White Lion? Oh wait…





Oh God, are we actually doing this?


Yes, this movie has long been accused of being a ripoff of Tezuka Ozamu’s manga and animé Kimba the White Lion. And frankly, I find the entire idea preposterous. Why would Disney, the greatest animation studio in the world, need to steal from a relatively obscure children’s cartoon from the sixties? But fine, let’s see the so called “evidence” for this supposed theft which I am sure is not at all compelling in any way.



Okay, so it’s pretty obvious that someone in Disney who was working on the Lion King was familiar with Kimba the White Lion and snuck that in as a visual reference. And you know what? That’s fine. It’s called “an homage” if you’re feeling arty, or “a shout out” if you’re keeping it real, man. You may call it theft, but film makers do it all the time. The Untouchables recreates the “pram on the steps” scene from Battleship Potemkin but no one’s suggesting that Brian De Palma should write Eisenstein a cheque. Which is good, because Eisenstein is dead and De Palma has been having a pretty bad run lately and probably doesn’t have a lot of cash to spare.

totally stole from Warner Bros anyway.

Ozamu totally stole that scene  from Warner Bros anyway.

What else ya got? Well, the name surely? Kimba. Simba. I mean, what do they think we’re stupid or something? Disney obviously changed that one letter of the name so we wouldn’t realise that this is a remake of Kimba the White Lion!

BEEP! Wrong answer.

As I’m sure quite a few Disney fans and Swahilis are screaming at the screen right now, “Simba” is Swahili for “lion”. The Disney animators learned quite a few Swahili phrases when they went on a field trip to Africa to research the film, and they ended up working these phrases into the movie. Well…then where the hell did Ozamu get “Kimba” from? Not a clue. TV Tropes offers the theory that Ozamu was going to name the main character Simba but changed it because there was a popular soft drink of the same name, and then goes on to say that that theory has been disproved and that the real reason is “complicated and doesn’t make much sense” and leaves it at that.

Don't you play coy with me, you little tease.

Don’t you play coy with me, you little tease.

The ripoff story actually began (as so many problems in this life do) with Matthew Broderick. When originally offered the part, he misheard and thought that they’d said “Kimba”. Being familiar with the old cartoon he then proceeded to run his mouth off saying that he was doing a remake of Kimba the White Lion . He later said:  “I kept telling everybody I was going to play Kimba. I didn’t really know anything about it, but I didn’t really care. I’m kind of an asshole like that. Also, I have the genitalia of a mosquito. I don’t mean that they’re small (although they are). I mean that I actually literally have the reproductive organs of an insect.”

It must be true. You read it on the internet.

It must be true. You read it on the internet.

The case for ripoff gets steadily weaker after that, ranging from the somewhat plausible (okay, both father lions have a wise baboon friend) to the pretty lame (of course the hyenas are comedy relief villains in both, THEY’RE FUCKING HYENAS) to the just kind of pathetic (Here’s Kimba running! Here is Simba also running!). The only other compelling piece of evidence is a very early piece of concept art depicting a white lion cub playing with a butterfly.


Okay. I am willing to entertain the theory that at some point, very early on in its production they considered making this movie a Kimba remake. But here’s the thing. That’s not the movie they made. If Disney released this movie in its current form as  Kimba the White Lion they would have been in contravention of the Trade Descriptions Act. Because, a few similarities here and there notwithstanding they are nothing alike. In the areas where it really matters, characters, plot, dialogue, animation The Lion King is completely its own movie. Its art style is totally different from Kimba (I’d get into Ozamu’s shameless aping of Bambi but he’s not on trial here).  And as I said in my Aladdin review, what’s in it for Disney? Why would they hide the fact that the movie they made was a Kimba remake if that was actually what they intended? To stiff Ozamu out of the money for the rights? Please. After Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin Disney had more money than your average sultanate. Jeffrey Katzenberg could have gathered up a few million from the back of the couch and paid for the rights. He certainly would have if there was any reasonable chance that Ozamu could have taken Disney to court for IP theft. No. What we have here is one possible visual homage, the coincidences that will inevitably arise between two pieces in the same genre using the same setting and Matthew Broderick running his big stupid mouth off. I find the accused…

Not guilty

Now let’s take a look at the film.

We begin with magic.

At first there is only darkness and the sound of chirping of insects and birds. Then, that first electrifying note-naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! as the sun rises over the horizon. It’s one of the most iconic moments in cinema and it’s just perfect. As the sun brings the earth to life, the animals come together to Pride Rock as Lebohang Morake and his African choir repeat the chorus “Ingonyama nengw’ enamabala”;  A lion and a leopard come to this open place.

Carmen Twillie sings the English lyrics, The Circle of Life written by Elton John and Tim Rice. It’s a great song, but let’s not kid ourselves, this is Morake’s show. This movie has, no lie, some of the best music of any film in the canon. And it’s not surprising, I mean look at the talent Disney got for this: Elton John, Morake, Tim Rice and the FUCKING ZIM!!!!



My God Hans Zimmer, how do I love thee?

As for the animation, it’s…very good.

But I honestly remembered it being better. I had this idea that there was a massive leap in animation quality from Aladdin to Lion King and now I don’t think that’s the case. It maintains the standard, but apart from the stampede scene it’s not really any great leap forward. It’s more impressive though when you remember that most of the really top-tier Disney animators were working on Pocahontas and that the Lion King was largely animated by B-listers (I’ll get into that more in the Pocahontas review).

We get out first look at Mufasa (James Earl Jones), standing on Pride Rock and surveying the gathered animals. Rafiki, the old baboon cleric, arrives and after embracing Mufasa he’s taken to where Sarabi, Mufasa’s queen, is nursing their son, Simba. Rafiki takes the cub and, in one of several Biblical references, anoints him with earth and fruit pulp. He raises him up and presents the new prince to his subjects. And all the zebras and elephants and wildebeest and monkeys…

"We've got the monkeys!" Let's see the monkeys!"

“We’ve got the monkeys!” Let’s see the monkeys!”

…go nuts. Title card.

We now meet our villain, Scar, doing something that immediately and irrevocably establishes him as an evil bastard of the lowest degree; being mean to a mouse. Scar, of course, is voiced by Jeremy Irons at his oiliest and he torments the mouse before eating him (I went to school with that guy. He was an ass. Never shut up about the time he got to work with Jeremy Irons. It was all, “As I once said to Jeremy…”. Yeah. Sure. Like he even remembers your name, Stan.)

Fucking Stan.

Fucking Stan.

Anyway, Scar gives the name-dropping prick some exposition: He’s Mufasa’s younger brother, he was next in line for the throne, then Simba was born, sucks to be Scar. Alright, I’m just going to get this out of the way now. At the end of this review, I’m going to give Scar a perfect twenty, something no villain to date has gotten outside of Maleficent. Some of you may agree with that. Some of you will not. Some of you think may think Jafar was robbed. I’m not really going to have space to explain my reasoning in the scoring section so I might as well do it now. From the comments after the Aladdin review (and I actually don’t know if you’ll have anything left to discuss after this one because you went over Lion King so thoroughly), one of the criticisms that was levelled at Scar was that he was a coward. And he is. Undoubtedly. He always shies away from physical confrontation, he’ll sell out allies the moment things go south. But Scar’s cowardice is actually part of what makes him so dangerous. He uses it in a very tactical way. Scar is not a coward because he is not a threat, far from it. Remember, in the final scene he almost kills Simba, a male in his prime many years younger than him. Now, you might say that Simba’s been living on bugs for years and is probably not in peak condition, but Scar’s probably been starving for a good while before Simba has even returned (the Pride Lands have been completely hunted out by this stage) so it balances out. Scar is quite old for a lion by this stage, and if not for one lucky kick he pretty much had Simba dead to rights. Scar projects an air of weakness and being from “the shallow end of the gene pool” because it makes his enemies more likely to underestimate him. But that’s not the reason why he gets a perfect score. In order for a villain to get the full twenty, they need something that I call The Moment. The Moment is a point in the movie where the villain pulls back the veil and reveals just how utterly, irredeemably evil they truly are. It’s usually something very small, and quiet. For Maleficent, it was that scene where she shows Philip his future, a withered old man riding out of her castle on a half-dead horse. Jafar is awesome, but he never had that single moment of terrifying jet-black evil. We’ll get to Scar’s Moment soon enough.

So before Scar can do us all a favour and bite Stan’s head off, Zazu (Rowan Atkinson) arrives to chew him out for not attending Simba’s presentation. Stan takes the opportunity to run off (where’s he now? Nearly thirty and working in Burger King. Hey, maybe you could call Jeremy Irons and see if he wants to collaborate on something? Huh? Yeah, thought not.). Scar then proceeds to chew Zazu out. Quite literally, but Mufasa arrives and tells him to spit the bird out.

 James Earl Jones as Mufasa is, in my humble opinion, quite simply the Greatest Movie Dad Ever.

Played by the Worst Movie Dad Ever. Now THAT'S range!

He was also the Worst Movie Dad Ever.
Now THAT’S range!

I think every kid wants a Dad like Mufasa, wise, forgiving, loving, fun and an absolute stone cold badass. He’s the kind of Dad you’d have no problem telling the other kids that he could beat up their dads. Hell, Mufasa could beat Superman. You know it’s true.

"Post-crisis me, definitely. But I think pre-crisis me might have a shot."

“Post-crisis me, definitely. But I think pre-crisis me might have a shot.”

This movie gets compared to Bambi a lot but for me Mufasa’s death is several orders of magnitude more devastating than that of Bambi’s mother. Because we get to know and love Mufasa, we spend a long time with him. His relationship with Simba feels real and loving and when that relationship is savagely cut short it hurts. Like. A. Motherfucker.

Mufasa asks Scar why he wasn’t at the ceremony and Scar pretends that he forgot but it comes out that he’s just pissed that he’s no longer first in line for the throne. He skulks off and Mufasa warns him not to turn his back on him, but Scar just replies “Yeah, got that assbackwards, bro.” Mufasa wants to settle right then and there but Scar backs down, saying he knows that he doesn’t have the strength to challenge Mufasa. Mufasa watches him go and wonders aloud what he’s going to do with Scar. After all, he is very obviously a Starscream, but he’s also family which means Mufasa can’t off him without making all future family reunions super awkward. Zazu suggests that he’d make a very handsome throw rug.

Spoiler alert: He did.

Spoiler alert: He did.

One of the movie’s other big influences (apart from Hamlet, the Bible, Hero With a Thousand Faces, the personal biographies of Jeffrey Katzenberg and Roy Disney, Bambi, Star Wars, the plays of Sophocles and the manifesto of the 1968 Democratic National Convention) is the legend of the Fisher King. With Mufasa as king, the Pridelands are lush and peaceful and we get several quite gorgeous scenic shots of the summer rains falling. Time passes and we see Simba, now a little older and voiced by Jonathan Taylor Thomas. Thomas was around 11 or 12 when he voiced Simba and he really does not get enough props for his work here. Seriously, this kid is phenomenal. He finds the right balance between making Simba cocky and arrogant while still being appealing and when he needs to do the heavy emotional lifting for the scene with Mufasa’s death? Umph. Absolutely trojan work. Maybe the best voice acting by a child I’ve ever heard.

Anyway, Simba tries to wake Mufasa at the crack of dawn because he promised to show him the kingdom. Sarabi (a fantastic Madge Sinclair) tells Mufasa “Your son’s awake” and he counters “Before sunrise, he’s your son.”

Sigh. I have tried the Mufasa Defence. It does not work.

Simba finally headbutts Mufasa to wake him up and, dude? I feel your pain. Our daughter has had to sleep in with us for the last week or so because she’s been sick and when she wakes up and wants you to wake up? Not so much a baby as a mace with arms and legs.

Mufasa takes Simba up to the top of Pride Rock and shows him the Pridelands, telling him that one day he will rule over everything the light touches.

What about that shadowy place?

What about that shadowy place?

"That is Bahia. You must never go there Simba."

“That is Bahia. You must never go there Simba.”

Mufasa explains the Circle of Life to Simba, saying that as king he will have to respect all creatures, from the ants to the antelopes. When Simba raises that valid point that it’s kind of hard to respect something that’s so darn delicious, Mufasa explains that while they may eat the antelope, when they die their bodies become the grass which the antelope eat. Which I’m sure the antelope find deeply satisfying.

"Hey guys! Look! Frank's caught himself a lion!" "Bite his fuckin' head off Frank!" "Yeah! Not so tough now, are ya lion?"

“Hey guys! Look! Frank’s caught himself a lion!”
“Bite his fuckin’ head off Frank!”
“Yeah! Not so tough now, are ya lion?”

Zazu arrives to give Mufasa the morning report. Zazu is voiced by Rowan Atkinson, who does a fine job. But because he’s Rowan Atkinson I can’t help but hear lines from Blackadder every time Zazu speaks.

"These are perilous times, Sire. The whole world cries out "Peace! Justice! And few less fat bastards eating all the pie!""

“These are perilous times, Sire. The whole world cries out “Peace! Justice! And a few less fat bastards eating all the pie!””

Zazu unleashes a wave of (ugh) puns that is mercifully cut short when news arrives that the hyenas are running amok in the Pridelands. Mufasa runs off to deal with them and Zazu takes a disappointed Simba home. Simba runs into Scar and is all “guess what where I’m going to be king of?” which of course is the very last thing that Scar wants to hear. It’s actually a really well done scene. Simba’s not trying to be a dick, he’s just genuinely excited at the idea of being king. Conversely, while we don’t want to see Scar become king, it’s not hard to sympathise with someone who’s having lemon juice rubbed in the wound like that. I also think it’s interesting, considering how Simba will later accuse Scar that “everything you ever told me was a lie” just how rarely Scar actually does lie to Simba. In this scene especially Scar just notes that Mufasa didn’t show Simba what’s beyond the northern border, tells Simba that it’s dangerous and that he should never go there and lets slip that there’s an elephant’s graveyard. Nothing he says is untrue. One of the things that makes Scar such an effective villain is that he understands his victims so well that it only takes the very slightest, seemingly innocent action on his part to put them in harm’s way. Simba runs and gets Nala and asks Sarabi’s permission to go to the “watering hole”. Ironically, when I was a teenager and I wanted to go to the watering hole I’d ask my mother if I could go to the “elephant’s graveyard”. Sarabi agrees but, because she’s not an idiot, insists that Zazu goes with them.

Zazu mistakes their whispered plotting to kill him and eat the evidence escape his watchful eye as young love and tells them that their parents will be thrilled. All three of them.

Simba and Nala don’t get it and he tells them that they are engaged to be married. Simba and Nala are grossed out by this, with Simba saying “I can’t marry her, she’s my best friend.”

Right. Because that’s the weird part about this. Look, let’s just get this out of the way. Simba and Nala are half-brother and sister. I know it, you know it, and the Lion King wiki’s desperate grasping at straws notwithstanding…

No image available? The devil, you say!

No image available? The devil, you say!

…we’re all just going to have to accept that lions are gross and move on. Simba says that when he’s king he’s going to change the law so that he doesn’t have to marry his sister and personally I think that’s the beginnings of a fantastic legislative agenda. But Zazu is all “young man, incest built this kingdom!” and says that if the incest goes, he goes, and by the way that Simba is shaping up to be a rather shitty king. We then get I Just Can’t Wait to Be King.

And I have to ask…why y’all gotta be hatin’? This is a great song. Okay, it’s probably the weakest in the movie but that’s like saying Leonardo is the worst turtle. He’s still awesome!

Need I remind you, he leads?

Need I remind you, he leads?

The song over, Simba and Nala give Zazu the slip and finally arrive at the elephant’s graveyard. They wander through the graveyard, which is creepy as hell because God apparently outsourced the job of designing elephant skulls to HR Giger.  Zazu arrives and tells them that they need to get the hell out of here like yesterday but it’s too late. The hyenas have arrived, Banzhai (Cheech Marin), Shenzi (Whoopi Goldberg) and Ed, voiced by Jim Cummings.

Take a shot.

Take a shot.

Alright, before we go any further we gotta talk about racism.

To me, old friend.

To me, old friend.

This movie does get tarred with the ‘ol racism brush more than most Disney movies so first I feel obliged to note what the movie does right in terms of race. Not only does it have the most ethnically diverse cast of any Disney movie we’ve covered so far (with one notable exception that it probably wouldn’t do this movie any favours to draw comparisons with) but the roles played by persons of colour in this movie are diverse, many, un-stereotyped and well written. It’s also refreshingly colour blind; Simba is voiced by white actors, but both his parents are voiced by black actors, and Nala even has one voice actor from each race. This alone puts it head and shoulders above most Hollywood movies. However, that’s not to say that there isn’t stuff in this movie that becomes deeply uncomfortable when viewed in a certain light. Some of the racism accusations I dismiss out of hand. For example, no, Scar is not black. He is not supposed to be black. He is depicted as being darker than the other lions to make him visually distinct and to mirror the fact that he has dark moods and motives and because he is a shady motherfucker. If you want your character to be black, you do not cast Simon Gruber. But some of the other charges have a bit more bite.

Take the hyenas. It’s been argued that because the Pride Lands become a wasteland once Scar allows the hyenas to live with the lions that the movie has a pro-segregationist message. Why shouldn’t the hyenas be allowed into the Pride Lands after all? Aren’t they part of the Circle of Life? Isn’t Scar simply creating a more just society by allowing them their fair share? Was Mufasa actually a tyrant, forcing an entire underclass into the ghetto of the elephant graveyard? It’s a troubling reading of the work, and not entirely without merit. But as I’ve said before, Disney movies don’t really have subtext, it’s all in the text. Personally, I rationalise it like this:

Mufasa is not oppressing the hyenas because they’re not his citizens. The movie makes it clear that the elephant graveyard is beyond the borders of Mufasa’s kingdom. Zazu in fact even makes the point that the hyenas would be perfectly within their rights to kill him, Simba and Nala because they’ve entered the hyenas’ territory. We can assume then that the hyenas are an independent nation and that far from oppressing them, Mufasa is simply defending his land and subjects from attacks from a hostile power. Also, the antipathy the lions have towards the hyenas is probably less to do with racism than with the fact that hyenas eat lion cubs. Which would be kind of a deal breaker. In this reading, the Pride Rock under Scar is not some kind of socialist paradise where the down-trodden underclass have finally risen up to take what’s theirs, it’s a nation living under a foreign military occupation. This makes sense when you remember that there is a group of real world people who are implicitly compared to the hyenas, but it’s not any ethnic minority.

It’s the Nazis.

So I can live with the portrayal of the hyenas. Having said that, there is one aspect of the movie that I find deeply problematic from a racial perspective but we’ll get to that when we get to that. The hyenas chase Simba and Nala through the graveyard…

God, this level was a bitch.

God, this level was a bitch.

…and they get chased to a dead end. It looks like it’s all over but then…


Mufasa arrives and kicks all of the ass. He beats the hyenas so badly, that animals that just happen to be in the same genus feel it.



Mufasa tells the hyenas that going near his son is callin’ for a maulin’ and they run off.

The scene where Mufasa confronts Simba over his disobedience is one of my favorites in the whole film (I only have like…eight). First it’s the atmosphere. I don’t know enough about sound design to know how they make this scene sound like they’re really standing in the middle of the savannah at sunset but it’s exactly the right kind of silence, if that makes sense. The scene also feels so real. If you’ve ever been given a dressing down by your Dad you know exactly what’s going through Simba’s mind right now. Mufasa explains to Simba the difference between courage and recklessness and the two reconcile beneath the stars. Simba asks Mufasa if they’ll always be together, and Mufasa tells him that his father once told him to look up at the stars and know that the great kings of the past looked down on him from those stars. Mufasa tells Simba that he will always be with him.

Meanwhile, back at the elephant graveyard, Scar chastises the hyenas for not offing Simba like they’d agreed. Shenzi asks what they were supposed to do, kill Mufasa? And Scar replies: “Yeah. Duh.”

This leads us into Be Prepared, which would be the greatest Disney villain song of all time if Hellfire wasn’t a thing.

This song, where Scar outlines his plan to use the hyenas to take over the Pride Lands is hilarious, dark and instantly classic. It’s also interesting to note that Jeremy Irons doesn’t actually voice all of Scar’s sung dialogue. Apparently he threw his voice out during the “YOU WON’T GET A SNIFF WITHOUT ME!” line and the rest of his lines had to be recorded by Jim Cummings impersonating Jeremy Irons.

Take a shot.

Take a shot.

I can’t actually tell you which lines are Cummings and which are Irons because Jim Cummings is a goddamn sorcerer.

This sequence does raise one question though. Why the hell do the hyenas even need Scar? From what we see of Mufasa’s pride there’s Mufasa, two cubs and maybe thirty lionesses tops. Judging from the Be Prepared sequence there are enough hyenas to just invade and take over the Pride Lands.

Or indeed, Poland.

Or indeed, Poland.

The next day, Scar leads Simba to a small rock in the middle of the gorge and tells him to wait there because his father has prepared a surprise for him. Simba asks if he’ll like the surprise and Scar says that it’s “to die for”. See? Say what you want, but at least he’s honest. Scar leaves Simba alone and we then pull back to see just what Scar’s “surprise” actually is.

"Mmmmm...good lion today."

“Mmmmm…good lion today.”

The stampede scene is, in my honest opinion, one of the single most perfect sequences in all of cinema. It’s just…I don’t know how you could improve on a single frame of it. I described in The Little Mermaid review those few seconds during the Part of Your World reprise where everything, animation, acting, music, direction just came together perfectly. This is the same effect, but they manage to sustain it for almost five minutes instead of five seconds. It starts with the slowly mounting dread of Simba seeing some pebbles rattling on the ground as the herd approaches. Then there’s the terror as he looks up to see them bearing down on him. The music rises and it all kicks off.

Just…everything about this scene. Almost twenty years later and the CGI is still damn near flawless.

It’s Mufasa, running against the herd, unstoppable. Doesn’t matter how many times they knock him down he keeps going he keeps going, he will not let his son die. Scar stalking along the ledge like a dark god, calmly, patiently watching the game unfold beneath him. Everything going to plan. That moment of relief when Mufasa gets Simba to safety, savagely undercut as he’s swept away by the tide.

Simba’s single, screamed “DAD!” Like a knife in your gut. Jesus, but Thomas sells it. Give the kid an Oscar for that one word.

His eyes search the crowd for any sign of his father, the music getting more and more frantic.

A second passes. Two. Three.

Then, a miracle! Mufasa soaring up into the air like a falcon, clinging to the cliff walls, battered, bruised but still alive. Still fighting. He’s going to make it. He’s going to make it.


Scar has left nothing to chance.

Brother! Help me!

Long live the king.

I would make a "Lazy Bastard Kookaburras" joke but I am just bloody smouldering emotional wreckage right now.

I would make a “Lazy Bastard Kookaburras” joke but I am just bloody smouldering emotional wreckage right now.

Disney movies have dealt with death before. But I cannot think of any other death in the canon that has the rawness, the intensity, the sheer emotional weight of Mufasa’s passing. Simba’s desperate attempts to rouse his father could have been the worst kind of emotional manipulation but the movie earns it. It’s not reaching for an emotion it hasn’t earned. It’s just collecting its due. And then, amazingly, things get worse.

I said before that Mufasa’s death trumps that of Bambi’s mother several times over. I think what happens next is really why the former is so much more horrific than the latter. Bambi’s mother was killed by Man, depicted as a faceless force of nature. And Bambi at least had his father to look after him after she died. The scene where Scar comforts Simba starts off as you’d expect but quickly takes an exceedingly dark turn. Instead of telling him that it’s not his fault, Scar tells Simba that he is to blame for his father’s death, wonders aloud what his mother will think and tells him he has to run away and never return. Jesus. Can you even imagine what that kind of guilt would do to a child? Watching the movie as a kid, I just thought Scar was horrible. Watching it now as a parent, I will take immense satisfaction when this fucker is eaten alive by hyenas.

His entire world shattered in moments, Simba runs off into the wilderness. The hyenas skulk out of the shadows, and Scar says two words with all the emotion of a man swatting a fly: “Kill him.”

And that, my friends, is The Moment.

Simba manages to escape the hyenas through a briar patch and runs off into the desert.

So to recap, Simba has been almost killed, witnessed the death of father, been exiled, almost been killed again, run through a field of razor sharp thorns and is now dying of thirst in the desert and is about to be eaten by vultures. And all he can think is “Worst. Surprise. Ever.” He’s rescued by the arrival of Timon (Nathan Lane) and Pumbaa (Ernie Sabella).  I’ll admit that these characters don’t quite hold the same charm for me as they did when I was a kid but I can definitely appreciate why they’re in the movie. After the emotional Ragnarök of the last act a little kid-friendly comic relief is just what the doctor ordered.  Timon and Pumbaa take Simba in and teach him their personal philosophy “Hakuna Matata”, which is Swahili for “Who gives a fuck, amirite?”

Hakuna Matata, while a catchy little ditty in it’s own right, also serves as a montage to show time passing and get us from Cub Simba to Adult Simba.

Ah, Intermediate Adolescent Simba, we hardly new ye.

Ah, Intermediate Adolescent Simba, we hardly knew ye.

It is of course at this point that Jonathan Taylor Thomas hands off voicing duties to…sigh.

Okay, as a loyal disciple of my lord and idol Doug Walker…

Here's a picture I made of him stroking me like I am his good mouse NO YOU'RE CREEPY AND WEIRD.

Here’s a picture I made of him stroking me like I am his good mouse NO YOU’RE CREEPY AND WEIRD.

…I do not much care for Matthew Broderick. However, much as I hate to say it…he’s not bad in this. I don’t know what they slipped into his coffee to break him out of his usual torpor but he actually gives a pretty good performance.

"Mouse. You have forgotten me."

“Mouse. You have forgotten me.”

Things are idyllic for Simba, Pumbaa and Timon until one day Pumbaa is out foraging for insects and finds himself on the business end of the food chain.

Bahia. Stage 4 at the very least.

Bahia. Stage 4 at the very least.

He’s about to get eaten by a lioness when Simba arrives and…gets his ass handed to him. He realises that the lioness is none other than Nala (now voiced by Moira Kelly) and the two have a joyous reunion while Timon looks on and tries to figure out what the heck just happened.

"C'mon! I had money riding on this fight!"

“C’mon! I had money riding on this fight!”

After introductions are made, Simba and Nala go off to catch up and we get our next song Can You Feel the Love Tonight? Elton John wrote this to be one of the all time great Disney love songs and…yeah, I think it’s safe to say he succeeded. Incredibly someone apparently thought the song would work better as a comedic number given to Timon and Pumbaa (the beginning and the end of this version can still be heard in the final movie). You can listen to this version here. Needless to say, when Elton heard that they’d given his beautiful love song to the comic relief warthog…he was less than pleased.

To this day, the peasants of Burbank still speak in hushed tones of the Scouring of Sir Elton.

To this day, the peasants of Burbank still speak in hushed tones of the Scouring of Sir Elton.

Thinks hit a rocky patch for Simba and Nala though when she starts asking uncomfortable questions like “So…you’ve been alive here this whole time while we’ve been starving, huh?” Nala tries to convince to come back and reclaim the throne but he tells her to screw off.

While stewing in his own guilt, Simba runs across Rafiki aaaaaaaaaaand now we’ve gotten to the part of the movie I really have a problem with. Now, don’t get me wrong. I freaking love Rafiki. He was my favorite character in the movie as a kid. He’s hilarious, sweet and an absolute badass. But…did no one, did NO ONE, in Disney working on this movie realise that there is exactly ONE character in this movie with an African accent and it’s…well…


Alice Facepalm

I feel awful for even bringing it up because of course that was never their intention. Unless Disney really is secretly run by a cabal of Nazi white supremacists using their movies to spread their doctrine of racial superiority.

Sigh. You know, the Red Skull used to put effort into his disguises.

Sigh. You know, the Red Skull used to put effort into his disguises.

But that is a fucking boneheaded mistake to make, especially since Disney has gotten in hot water over this kind of thing before. The only possible explanation I can think of was that the character was conceived as African back when Rafiki was still going to be a cheetah and they had to change species when it became clear that Rafiki was going to need two little things.



And just…no one picked up on it. Which was really, really, really fucking stupid of them. But I don’t feel inclined to hold that against the character or Robert Guillaume who voices him. Anyway, Rafiki pulls a Yoda and pretends to be crazy and tells Simba that his father is still alive and that he can take him to him.  Hey, wouldn’t it be hilarious if when they got there Mufasa was just sitting there eating a tin of beans having faked his death years ago and he just looks up to see Simba and he’s all “Oh. Well, this is awkward”?  But no, Rafiki shows Simba a vision of his father who proceeds to give him the most cosmically epic guilt trip ever delivered. This scene is gorgeous, Zimmer’s score, the visuals and Jones” delivery combine to create something almost transcendentally beautiful. Simba finally comes to terms with his guilt, and sets off for home with Rafiki whooping encouragement and the stars themselves falling in celebration (again, echoes of the Fisher King).

Simba returns to the Pride Lands to find that under Scar’s rule it’s become the kind of place Al Gore sees in his nightmares. He turns to see Nala, Pumbaa and Timon and whoah, whoah, whoah, whoah. You mean to tell me Nala, with a tiny meerkat and a warthog in tow, managed to get back to the Pride Lands at the same time as Simba despite him having a whole night’s head start on her? Was he strolling the whole way? When we see Simba running through the desert, I thought that was in slow motion for dramatic effect. I didn’t realise that’s just how slow he was.

They get close to Pride Rock and Timon and Pumbaa create a distraction for the hyenas that…raises one or two questions for me.

1) How do you know what a hula is? 2) Where did you get the constume? 3) Why are you suddenly the only one in this movie who wears clothes? 4) Where is the music coming from? 5) Where did you find an apple in this starving hellscape? 6) When did you have time to rehearse this. 7) Am I having a stroke?

1) How do you know what a hula is?
2) Where did you get the costume?
3) Why are you suddenly the only one in this movie who wears clothes?
4) Where is the music coming from?
5) Where did you find an apple in this starving hellscape?
6) When did you have time to rehearse this?
7) Am I having a stroke?

The way now clear, the approach Pride Rock in time to see Scar summoning Sarabi. She stalks majestically through the growling hyenas, pausing only to administer the frostiest look of disdain ever captured on film.

Bitch. Please.

Bitch, please.

Sarabi tries to get it through Scar’s crazy, crazy noggin that there’s no more food because there is no more food and she can’t just go out to the local store for a fresh pack of wildebeest. She says it’s time to up stakes and leave and Scar says that that’s not happening. Sarabi points out that sentencing your entire kingdom to starve just because you don’t want to change the address on your stationary is not really something Mufasa would do and Scar smacks her across the face.

Shit just got real

Simba makes his appearance and tells Scar to surrender the throne. Scar says that he’d love to, naturally, but he really couldn’t disappoint the hyenas. I mean, look at their little fuzzy faces. Scar then turns the tables on Simba by forcing him to confess that he’s responsible for Mufasa’s death. And no, I don’t blame Sarabi and Nala for taking a few seconds to process this, they’re going through a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. Scar and the hyenas corner Simba on the ledge.

"He's got claws!" "You IDIOTS! We've all got claws!"

“He’s got claws!”
“You IDIOTS! We’ve all got claws!”

Simba slips and ends up clinging to the ledge while lightning strikes the parched plain below causing it to erupt in flames because God was apparently trained by Ra’s Al Ghul.

"I seek you took my advice on theatricality rather literally, Yahweh."

“I seek you took my advice on theatricality rather literally, Yahweh.”

Scar has Simba dead to rights, but can’t resist gloating and tells Simba that he was the one that killed Mufasa. Simba, filled with the kind of rage that can tell physics to go screw, leaps up and pins Scar, forcing him to confess to the lionesses that he killed Mufasa. Well, you tell a bunch of lionesses that you killed their baby daddy, what do you think’s going to happen? There’s a massive battle between the hyenas and the lions, with Timon, Pumbaa and even Rafiki getting their individual moments of pure badassery.

Old Rafiki

Finally, Simba corners Scar at the very top of Pride Rock and tells him that he doesn’t deserve to live. Scar tries to pin the blame on the hyenas (unfortunately for him they’re in earshot) but Simba tells him that he’s not going to kill him. He orders Scar into exile using the exact same words that Scar used all those years ago “Run. Run away. And never return.”

Scar pretends to agree to this, and then throws some flaming debris in Simba’s eyes. No going back now. Only one of them is leaving here alive. The final battle is savage and brutal, made all the more thrilling by Hans Zimmer’s magnificent score. Scar almost beats Simba but his nephew just manages to fling him off the rock.


LAZY BASTARD KOOKABURRAS! (Good to be back, everybody.)

Scar survives and is relieved to see the hyenas standing over him, calling them “my friends”. But Shenzi remarks that she seems to remember him calling her the enemy. Our last view of Scar is of him backing away in terror as a horde of slavering, demon-eyed hyenas slowly close in on him.

Ah. There's that good old fashioned Disney terror.

Ah. There’s that good old timey Disney terror.

With Scar dead, Simba ascends the rock. He hears his father’s voice, and we see the skull of an antelope being carried off by the rains, a symbol of death being swept away. Then, with the music swelling, Simba roars.

The herds return to the Pride Lands and the movie ends the way it began, with the Lion King and his Queen presenting their newborn child to the kingdom. And the Circle of Life rolls on.

Happy ending


It’s actually hard to put the scale of The Lion King’s success in anything less than astronomical terms. I remember reading as a child that enough VHS tape of this movie was sold to stretch from the earth to the moon and back four times. It grossed nearly a billion dollars worldwide. It was the biggest film of 1994, and briefly the second most profitable film of all time after Jurassic Park. It remains the most successful traditionally animated film of all time, and given the sad state of feature length traditional animation it may hold that record, well, forever. Not bad for a movie that was originally envisioned as a quirky little B-movie to hold the public’s attention until Pocahontas came and blew everyone away. It’s also the Disney movie that has perhaps got the strongest claim to being the studio’s crowning achievement. This movie would in many ways mark the end of an era with Disney. Oh, there’s a good six years of the Renaissance left to go of course. And many of the movies that would come after would be able to stand with the very best of the studio’s output. But there would never again be a streak of gold quite like the Mermaid/Beauty/Aladdin/Lion King run Too many things had changed. Frank Wells, the President of the Walt Disney company who so successfully managed to keep peace between the Titanic egos of Katzenberg, Eisner and Roy Disney tragically died in a helicopter accident a few months before the movie was released (it’s dedicated to his memory). What happened next is a story for another time, but it ended with Katzenberg leaving the studio to set up what would become Disney’s great rival, Dreamworks. Nothing would ever be the same after this. Success would never be as certain, and if it came, it would never top the heights of this movie. What else can you say about it?

It’s the king.


Animation: 18/20

Not as good as I remembered it (with the exception of the stampede scene), but still very strong.

The Leads: 19/20

Yeah, despite being saddled with Matthew Broderick, Simba is a fantastic lead.

The Villain: 20/20

Kill him.

Supporting Characters: 19/20

Timon, Pumbaa, Rafiki, the hyenas, Zazu. An embarrassment of riches.

The Music: 20/20




"Hey. You read the latest Unshaved Mouse?"

“Hey. You see the new Unshaved Mouse?”

"Nah. I don't read him any more. He used to be funny, but now he just gushes over every movie he reviews."

“Nah. I don’t read him any more.”

"Oh? How come?"

“Oh? How come?”

"Nah. I don't read him any more. He used to be funny, but now he just gushes over every movie he reviews."

“He used to be funny, but now he just gushes over every movie he reviews. I don’t think he’s really panned a movie since frickin’ Black Cauldron. He used to be bad.”


"Oh? How come?"

“Oh jeez. Um…sorry, Mouse.”

"Nah. I don't read him any more. He used to be funny, but now he just gushes over every movie he reviews."

“Well? Am I wrong? C’mon Mouse! Are you bad or not?”


“You want to see if I’m bad? You want to see if I’m bad?! I’LL SHOW YOU BAD! NEXT MOVIE I REVIEW I’M GONNA PAN THE SHIT OUT OF!”

"On the wind...I sense ...danger..."

“On the wind…I sense …danger…”

NEXT UPDATE: 11 July 2013

Neil Sharpson AKA The Unshaved Mouse, is a playwright, comic book writer and blogger living in Dublin. The blog updates every second Thursday. Thanks for reading!


  1. Hey cool I get to leave the first comment. This movie gets me everytime, even reading the summary of it. Good review.

  2. Yeah so as I said in the comments of the Aladdin review, I don’t particularly care for this movie. I don’t think it’s bad by any means, in fact I think it’s really something pretty great, but it just doesn’t do it for me for some reason. Maybe it’s Matthew Broderick, maybe it’s that I find Jonathan Taylor Thomas to be fairly annoying (fun fact, I went to the same high school he did, though something like 10 years later), maybe it’s that I don’t love the side characters as much as I used to, I don’t know. But for some reason this one just never got me quite like Beauty and the Beast or Little Mermaid did. There wasn’t as much emotional resonance for me and there wasn’t enough great comedy to make up for that fact. There are moments that hit those notes like Mufasa’s death and when Simba sees Mufasa in the stars (side note, I will defend Atticus Finch as the greatest movie dad of all time to the day I die) but on the whole I always felt rather emotionally detached from it. So while I admit it’s a very strong work, it’s jut not one that I love myself. I’ll pop it in every couple years, have a good time watching it, and then go watch Beauty and the Beats 8 more times before I feel like watching Lion King again.

    I will say though, you did hit the nail on the head when you talked about Simba possibly being a young Jeffrey Katzenberg. I actually just watched the excellent documentary Waking Sleeping Beauty last night, and in one of the audio interviews, somebody (I believe it was Peter Schneider) said that when someone asked him what Lion King was, he replied that they were making a movie about themselves. When you start to hear about the power struggle going on between Michael Eisner, Roy E. Disney, and Katzenber, you really start to see a lot of parallels with this movie, particularly in the relationship between Mufasa and Scar, which closely mirrors Eisner’s relationship with Katzenberg. If you haven’t seen the documentary, check it out, there are tons of great geeky animation moments (such as one where Randy Cartwright is giving a video tour of the studio and introduces Tim Burton, Kirk Wise, John Musker, and Ron Clements to the camera, and then casually mentions that the cameraman IS JOHN FREAKING LASSETER) and some absolutely amazing clips of the late Howard Ashman coaching Jodi Benson through Part of Your World. It’s well worth an hour and a half of your time

    1. That is exactly how I feel about The Lion King. I would watch the othe Renaissance (and most other films) 50 times before I have th urge to watch The Lion King, Eventhough I do enjoy watching it. I don’t know

  3. Great article, unshavedmouse! Few questions/comments:

    1) What did you think of the deleted and restored (depending on what version of the film you watch) song, “Morning Report” that Zazu sings?

    2) In the paragraph after your picture of the Scouring of Elton John, the sentence begins with “Thinks” when I think you meant it to be “Things”.

    3) What do you think of “The Lion King 2” and “The Lion King 1 1/2” (or “The Lion King 3” if it’s marketed as that in Ireland)?

    4) My favorite love song in the Disney Canon would have to be “Johnnie Fedora and Alice Bluebonnet” from “Make Mine Music”. I know it’s just purely sappy, but I love it more than any other Disney love song. I myself am flummoxed as to how I can love such a song!

    Looking forward to your discussing of the greatest source of enlightenment, “Pocahontas”, in 2 weeks!

    1. 3) 2 is one of the better sequel, still pretty awful. I think it’ll 11/2 over here. Haven’t seen it, heard it’s actually pretty good, saw Diggah Tunnah on You Tube AND CANNOT STOP LISTENING TO IT.

      1. I prefer “The Lion King 2” way over “The Lion King 1 1/2”. I don’t even consider “The Lion King 2” to be bad. I mean it definitely isn’t a classic, but I think it works fine as a direct-to-DVD feature.

  4. Great review mouse.

    Just recently learned I’m about the same age as you and the Renaissance era movies are always my favorite. Lion King was one movie that ran me through every emotion I had, from love and friendship to wanting to cry over Mufasa’s death and the edge of my seat suspense as Simba ran for dear life.

    That said, I will always defend Simba’s actions at the end as the right thing, he just didn’t figure Scar would want to kill him over it, and the lionesses didn’t defend him because they thought he was the main reason Mufasa died and caused their lives to go south. Once Scar confesses to his crime then the fight is on as they now have someone who might help them rebuild the Pridelands and bring the herds back.

    But for me, the only fault I find is that the movie isn’t long enough and I wanted so much more. This movie is, was and always will be a crowning achievement of traditional animation and why I prefer it to CGI anyday of the weak.

    Next up, one of Disney’s worst since the Horned King incident. Wish you luck mouse.

      1. I think it’s different than say, Hercules, which is undeniably silly and laid with a myriad of plotholes. Pocahontas tries to trick you into believing it’s a masterpiece when it’s saying nothing. You watch it, and as you’re watching it, it’s not so bad. But when it’s over, you’re just left with nothing.

  5. Great review I must say, a lot of good points. You’ve raised some interesting points regarding interpreting Hamlet. I still don’t see much of a connection, outside of the superficiality of revenge on uncle. Like I wouldn’t show my kid The Lion King to introduce him to Hamlet. Frankly there hasn’t been a good enough adaptation of Hamlet yet. Every ten years we get a new adaptation thats just makes you want to read it instead. They all just sucked. The one with Lawrence Olivier is probably the best one, the standard by which you judge the others. The acting is always terrible and the directing choices… Hamlet demands perfection or at least top tier talent at their best. It’s a definite Oscar winner and career maker if done right. I personally never found any of the Hamlets convincing, Maybe I just don’t agree with the actors’ interpretations of the character, Most of them flub the to be or not to be soliloquy. I guess it’s just too tempting to “ACT” through it. It never comes across as natural. But back to The Lion King, the one thing that really bothers me about the movie is the jarring shift in Simba’s mood when he starts singing Hakuna Matata. He just lost his father, thinks he’s responsible he lost his emotional and physical support network, he’s just laying there waiting to die. And then he gets introduced to subsistence living and don’t worry be happy and everything’s ok. Maybe Timon and Pumba should have treated a “bedridden” Simba for a couple of days, and then slowly improved his moved, culminating with hakuna matata. The way it’s done is just jarring to me.

    And regarding a Hamlet adaptation, its too long for a feature film, it’s length would make it a good miniseries, it’s about five hours right? Or do something original and take a popular series that’s on the air now *cough* Breaking Bad and just write it in, in a middle of a season. Just let the regular characters kinda hang back and let Hamlet do his thing.

      1. I’m talking about the to be or not to be speech.

        Branagh was one of the better ones. The Mel Gibson one was terrible, he played it very obvious and pedestrian, it’s like he didn’t even interpret it, he just acted as an emotional man giving a performance to no one. Just one layer. Ethan Hawke didn’t even have one. And there was another one I’ve seen on cable with David Tennant that I felt didn’t even register as a performance. I switched channels half way into his speech. Branagn actually approached it as a man having an epiphany and feeling it like it meant something to him. Not my approach but a more substantive one.(plus he sold it)

        Overall I feel Hamlet himself is a indecisive writer intellectual type given a burden he didn’t know how to deal with. He’s obvious a man of thirty given he has some maturity, but is still headstrong in stupid in other ways. He goes pontificates on yorick and death, unprovoked to do so. He seemed like someone lost in his head and morose and selfish. Like he has to process things intellectually and understand them before moving on, and there’s no moving on with him.
        There’s different ways to approach the soliloquy, he could get in the middle of his stage “the play within a play stage” and ruminate emotionally totally lost in his head. He could give a stirring political speech if you interpret him on a more political level. Like a future statesman type budding and thinking of political advantage.
        Well to expound on the last point, the to be or not to be speech can be interpreted as thoughts on suicide, or foolhardy bravery that will surely get him killed. You know nothing left to lose. You can approach it as philosophizing on nature of to be or not. Or just fixated on the idea he might die if he pursues revenge. There are many interpretations, and the best ones carry the most interesting ideas behind them. From what I’ve seen most actors approach him as suicidal ideation mixed in with pontificating. Or just give emotional gusto and think that’s a good characterization. There hasn’t been an intellectually satisfying performance so far, and that’s strange given how popular the play is. But then again I don’t go to theater.

        But at the end of the day I’m not a professional actor, and my viewpoint is purely from the peanut gallery, but performances are easy to read and not easy to perform, so I think I have a leg to stand on before someone more educated kicks the stool from under me.

      2. Trying to figure out how to do that speech is probably the most terrifying thing I’ve ever had to do as an actor. How do you do the most famous speech in the English language?

      3. I personally love Branagh’s version. I’ve actually had the privilege of playing Hamlet and Branagh’s interpretation of the character was a big influence.

      4. I don’t know…I always thought that Hamlet should be played by a very young man…after all, he has to come from the university for the burial of his father. I also think that most performances are not sarcastic enough (at least not the ones I saw, which are not that many), I think most actors take it too serious instead of looking at it from the angle of someone really young who suddenly finds himself surrounded by traitors, burdened with a revenge and in general a task to big for him. To me, Hamlet is someone who lashes out to the world, with hidden barbs in carefully chosen words.

    1. There’s a distinct thematic connection between Hamlet and The Lion King actually. Mufasa’s circle of life speech to Simba closely resembles some lines Hamlet delivers to Claudius about how when a King dies he becomes part of the earth and is eaten by worms. It’s not a 1 to 1 comparison between the two films but the thematic and plot connections are there.

      1. I never noticed that before. Interesting though that in Hamlet that’s a threat whereas in Lion King it’s a reassurance. In an odd way, the cartoon has a more mature “relax, life goes on” attitude to death than freakin’ Shakespeare!

  6. Whoo! This is possibly one of my favourite movies ever. My sister and I sing every song, every time we watch it. I am kind of surprised you didn’t revive the ‘Disney gay couples’ joke for Timon and Pumbaa, though. Not disappointed, mind you – as always, this was an excellent, intelligent, hilarious review.
    Looking forward to Pocahontas. (Oddly enough, a friend of mine compared me to Pocahontas recently. I’m pretty sure she meant it as a compliment – I was showing her the secret abandoned quarry in the bush near my house while picking wild mushrooms.) Having never seen the movie, I’m a little hazy on why people don’t like it. Historical inaccuracy? Racial insensitivity? Both, plus some other factors?

    1. Both plus some other factors. I probably like it more than most (as in I don’t hate it but I don’t love it either) but there are definitely some serious problems with the movie.

    2. I personally think both wouldn’t matter much if it were a good movie otherwise….well, I guess you’ll see when you read the summary of the plot.

    3. You guys are talking about Pocahontas I am assuming, right? I don’t hate it actually…. I like it, though I know and acknowledge how weak it is as a movie. They could have done a lot better with it.

  7. I’ve watched “Lion King” a couple times too many and now some of the magic has gotten a little threadbare. But it’s still an awesome movie. And you did a great job addressing the controversies floating around out there, IMHO. (Somehow, I never quite grasped that as the only adult male in the pack proper, Mufasa was Nala’s father too. Of course, the only alternative is that Scar was Nala’s father. . . . and given that in a deleted scene restored in the musical Scar hits on Nala pretty hard . . . Scar is the squickier option for me.)

    I remember feeling disappointed after watching “Pocahontas.” I was still too young to quite put my finger on why it just wasn’t as good as TLM through TLK but I tried very hard to like it as much as I had liked its four predecessors. I think I have a bit of a hangover from that because even now I sort of like the movie. Parts of it, anyway.

  8. I agree with you that this is probably the best Disney film, and the climax of the canon. The characters are well-realized (most of them), the songs are BRILLIANT, the story holds its own, the animation is beautiful (the CGI in the stampede scene has definitely aged). It is near flawless, (though some of the undertones are suspicious). But I do not know why I have never enjoyed it as much as the predecessors and successors in the Disney Renaissance.

    I enjoy it every single time I watch it, but I never have that good feeling that I have in all the others. i just never saw the nostalgia and the big deal about it that puts it over the others. Maybe it is the voice acting, the plot (can’t be that). I am just not in love with it like everyone else is.

    I CANNOT WAIT FOR YOUR POCAHONTAS REVIEW (This one I have been the most excited for in the past 2 months). Great review

  9. I LOVED this movie as a kid but as I grew older, it lost some of its charm. Or maybe it’s because Simba’s Pride happens and that turned SImba into a complete and utter wuss happily living in his father’s shadow and it’s hard for me to separate the two. These days, if something about the movie excites me, it’s because it dragged me back to my childhood. Funny how my other childhood faves, Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Pocahontas (I love it despite many valid complaints. It came out at a perfect time in my life.) have aged like fine wine in comparison.

    Scar scares the crap out of me when he kills Mufasa. He’s really channeling his inner Maleficent when he says “Long live the king.”

    I eagerly await your next review, but I do hope that you agree that if nothing else, the movie is the next Sleeping Beauty solely terms of art. When I saw it on Blu Ray, my mouth was on the floor during the whole thing. I was blown away by the beauty of it all.

    Oh, and yeah, I REALLY dislike the sequel to Pocahontas despite being closer to history, mostly because of all the movies to take a nosedive in terms of art quality in the sequel, Pocahontas II takes the cake.

      1. I don’t really like Pocahontas, but if there is one good thing about it, it’s the animation (and the score). It’s actually really similar to Sleeping Beauty in some regards, I wouldn’t be surprised if the animators used the movie for inspiration – it’s especially obvious in the way the rooks are drawn.

      2. I would say it’s Hunchback. My god the backgrounds in that movie are stunning, Notre Dame itself is an absolutely incredible feat of animation

      3. Hunchback does have beautiful animation, but the CGI in the background people is really obvious, distracting, and has aged horribly. I love the animation in Pocahontas, but John Smith is inconsistently animated. I can’t complain about the animation in The Lion King (other than the CGI scene, but that was not really a complaint). Everything about it is stunning.

      4. Yeah, I did notice the background people’s rather obvious and jerky movement patterns last time I watched it but you can absolutely forgive them for that because the technology was still developing. It’s not too distracting anyway unless you’re actually looking for it

      5. Really? I’m looking forward to hearing your defense to that claim later on. Not that I disagree; Tarzan is by far my favorite of the post-Lion King Renaissance films. I just haven’t watched Sleeping Beauty nearly as much as Tarzan & would never have made the comparison between the two.

      6. I always thought the animation in “Pocahontas” was good, but flat, and Pocahontas and John Smith looked a little like paper cut-outs. (Not to mention they are as boring as SHIT.)

    1. “Or maybe it’s because Simba’s Pride happens and that turned SImba into a complete and utter wuss happily living in his father’s shadow and it’s hard for me to separate the two.”

      I disagree with the interpretation of Simba as a wuss in the sequel. I think it was pretty obvious that once Simba became a dad he remembered all the stupid dangerous things he did as a kid (hell he and Nala have a conversation dealing with this right at the beginning) and he doesn’t want to risk his daughter getting eaten by hyenas. If his *wasn’t* concerned about Kiara’s safety that wouldn’t make him not a wuss, that’d make him an awful parent. I’m not sure how he otherwise could be interpreted as wussy, since he still engages in fights and holds his own relatively well considering that unlike Zira’s pack he hasn’t been training every day for years (and it can be inferred that he’s older than some of Zira’s lionesses).

      It’s kinda hard for me to see the idea of Simba trying to live in Mufasa’s shadow because I just didn’t see him “acting like Mufasa” in any meaningful way aside from trying to protect the pride, which frankly any king worth his salt would do, and in passing on some of Mufasa’s wisdom to Kiara, which I also think anyone who had a good relationship with their parent would do.

  10. Okay, I love Disney movies and have been reading these reviews ever since the newest one was 101 Dalmatians, and reading your stuff is always fun and informative even when we disagree on something. And I’m finally driven to comment because I have to nitpick on Tezuka Osamu (that’s in Japanese order btw, Tezuka is the surname).

    All the name confusion comes from the American adaptation. In Tezuka’s original version, the white lion is called Leo, which sounds cool and exotic in Japan but not so much in English. When the animated series was brought to the States, the localization changed many names, and Leo became Simba. However, the network wanted a unique name that could be copyrighted, so an advertising team member suggested Kimba based on the pet name of his daughter Kimberly. (All the rip-off accusations are based on the animated version anyway, it made many changes to the original story.)

    I think I have the same problem with TLK as you have with Beauty and the Beast. It’s an excellent movie and a classic, but I don’t really get why people think it’s the best ever. There are Disney movies that are much more clumsy but which I personally like a lot better (likemeettherobinsonsahem).

    Looking forward to so many movies you have yet to review. Keep them coming, you’re doing a great job! I love finding such in depth discussion on Disney movies, there is a total shortage on that 😉

  11. It’s not like I disagree with your review…I saw the movie in the theatres multiple time, because it is downright impressive. The start, the music, the stampede, and it really delivers at the right moments. Nevertheless, I think that the reviewers who point out that the story could be a little bit better are right. If Simba actually were partly responsible for Mufasa’s death or if the final confrontation would be more about the emotional aspect, I would never dispute it being the best movie Disney ever made. But to me everything comes down to story, and there are a lot of contender who do a much better job in getting their message across (some of them fairly recent, but some of the really, really old) and who don’t chicken out at the important moment. And to be honest: Despite the Lion King being a movie I watched so often back then, it’s also a movie I rarely grab out of my DVD shelf. Partly because it is one for the big screen, it looses a lot on TV.
    I disagree though that Mufasa’s death is “worse” than the death of Bambi’s mother. I don’t think that you can compare this. You are right, we feel more for Mufasa because we get to know him better. But I think the way Bambi’s mother died is more terrifying. It happens so fast, so unexpected, and it doesn’t happen because someone targeted specifically her, but because she was at the wrong place to the wrong time. This hits much closer to home than seeing a murder. So in the end, I think both death are equally heart wrenching, it just depends on what aspect gets to you more.
    A little side-note: It’s not like Disney got ANY flak about The Jungle Book when it was released (aside from it being not true to the books). The “we put the Disney movie under scrutiny and look for racist and hidden sex massages” is pretty much a thing of the 90s. The only movies Disney had to deal with this issue beforehand were Dumbo, Fantasia and Song of the South.

  12. It’s by the way interesting that you interpret “To be or not to be” as Hamlet asking himself if he should live or not….I know, it’s a common interpretation, but I think it’s a little bit shallow. I don’t think that Hamlet seriously contemplates suicide, but that he tries to decide if he should take action or not. He doesn’t want this conflict, and yes, a part of him desires to escape life itself. But the actual point is in my eyes the question, if he should take the cowardly way out, follow the advice of his mother and accept the situation the way it is, or if he should go through with the play in order to determine his uncles guilt. He notes that a part of him, despite his desire to die, would rather avoid the conflict out of fear for his own safety, but staying alive and suffering further under the situation seems to be an even more undesirable option. After all, he is trapped and his enemies are closing in from all sites.
    So, in a sense, the answer of Hamlet is also “To Be”, to go through with the play, take up the sword and fight rather than trying to avoid the conflict. Though naturally in his case the result of the circle of revenge is that in the very end, everyone is death, so maybe “To be” is not the right answer after all.

    1. “To die. To sleep- No more. And by a sleep to say we end the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to.” Sorry. It’s about suicide. It’s not shallow, any more than it’s shallow to say it’s set in Denmark. It just IS. Any other interpretation is frankly just ignoring the text

      1. It has a few meanings though. The suicide part is the most prominent but to take action is sort of a subtext of that speech that gets resolved later on.

      2. What I meant that it’s the most obvious interpretation…it’s about so much more.
        “But that the dread of something after death,
        The undiscover’d country from whose bourn
        No traveller returns, puzzles the will

        And makes us rather bear those ills we have
        Than fly to others that we know not of?
        Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;”

      3. That the fear of the unknown makes us cling to life even if the life is unpleasant…and (and this is my point) makes us avoid the conflict which puts our life at risk.
        Hamlet doesn’t really want to die, he want to escape the life he leads, and death is the easiest way to do so. But death is an unknown, too. Hence his indecision if he should go through with the plan, knowing that it might not like what results out of it either. It’s the tragic in this that there isn’t really a “good” choice for Hamlet. Whatever he does, it will result in pain for someone, even though he is not the one who created this situation in the first place.
        Mmmm…in this light, it’s perhaps more Hamlet-like that Simba didn’t really create the difficult situation he finds himself in either….but this kind of structure, with the hero who is doomed no matter what he does and without a fault, belongs into a tragedy, not something as upbeat as Lion King….

      4. Yes but the “unknown” in this case is quite explicitly the afterlife. So I don’t really see how it can be said to be about anything other than suicide and the central question of whether it is better to be alive or dead.

    2. This is the only place where I can jump in with my two cents. What are you arguing is about the meaning of the speech. One says suicide the other escape from pressures of life. I would prefer to look at it as just different layers of subtext. Mainly the speech is about pontificating suicide, but is has other more subtle motivations as well. They’re open for interpretation, I personally see along with contemplating suicide Hamlet is exploring justification and motivation for what he plans to do. He’s slowly building himself up to meet the challenge of killing Claudius. He’s kinda of wishy washy like that. If you add another layer of wishing for escape then yea that definitely can be there. Hamlet has lots of conflicting feelings and he’s exploring them through this speech. He could mean several things with just one line. As a reader and I guess as an actor you could give him several emotional motivations and he’s working them out. Like the get thee to a nunnery line. It’s both sending Ophelia into a whorehouse and a holy institution of god.
      As for what Shakespeare meant, probably several things. He’s considered the pinnacle of western writing. Just one layer won’t do.

      As for your acting background Mr. Unshaven Mouse I have dabbed in the theater arts myself. In fact in my college I was quite a deal. I performed in only two plays during my college tenure. I was so good that the drama club ended up splitting in half. One side took the position I was at my best in my first play, “Everyman” While the other side claimed that my one man play of Waiting for Godot performed in mime and blackface was the superior product. And even though I never touched the bard, I feel I might have some insight on how to tackle that famous speed. First accept that unless you have a Masters in Shakespeareology from Oxford you will fall short, and the second bit of advice is it’s not too hard to do. Hamlet was a human like the rest of us. He pines about life and death, it’s universal. I personally would be more intimidated portraying something I have no experience or knowledge of. I wouldn’t even know how to approach down syndrome person slash tortured mathematical genius who just adopted a fifteen year old and he doesn’t know what to do.

  13. Loved the review , pointed out some things I had never noticed before. The running joke in my family is that I still haven’t gotten through it without bursting in to tears (generally when mufasa is a cloud).
    As a kid I loved Pocahontas but when I rewatched it recently I realised two things
    1)Meeko, Flit and the pug are the only redeeming features…mainly meeko
    2) Dear jesus it is dreadful

    1. Welcome to the blog! The problem I have with Meeko, Flit and Percy is that, while fun in isolation they have absolutely no purpose in the movie. They fulfill next to no role in the plot. They’re just there for the Happy Meal toys.

      1. Oh god yeah , completely but they were really the only touch on humour that the movie has. There are a few characters who would fit the same bill , Wiggins for example to me is a token character , I have never been quite sure what he was meant to add to the plot apart from comic relief and someone else for Ratcliffe to shout at.

      2. I think that Pocahontas has the biggest case of “sidekick-itis”. Pocahontas has 2 (no including Nakoma) 3 including Nakoma, John has 3 with Thomas and the 2 older man, and Governor Ratcliffe has 2. It is so unnecessary and serve no purpose in the plot (with the exception of Thomas and Nakoma).

      3. I think Flit is the worst….he doesn’t do ANYTHING the whole movie. But I guess they had to fill the movie with something, since “daughter of the chief rescues English soldier by speaking up in his behalf” isn’t exactly a riveting plot. Most fairy tales have more to it than this.

  14. YAY! Another excellent review mouse. Love this movie. Destroyed my emotional stability as a child and I still tear up even now. But gosh darn I love it. Honestly even nearly two decades on that death scene is one of the best done in film at least IMHO. And Scar is so deliciously evil ( Hugs Jeremy Irons Plushie) although my favourite villain should be coming up soon which I can’t wait for. I have a soft spot for Frollo because as a Villain he’s pretty multi-dimensional and has probably one of the most epic songs in Disney Canon, his style, voice, the way he’s animated it’s just perfect.

    As for Pocahontas..
    ”O you beast!
    I’ll so maul you and your toasting-iron,
    That you shall think the devil is come from hell.”

    I hate this movie. Loathe it. Detest it. There are very few movies that can illicit this level of antipathy from me and this is one of them. Didn’t like it as a child and I don’t now. The only redeeming feature for me are some of the Landscapes. Which are Beautiful. But even they could not save this movie.

    I look forward to the glorious beat down to come.

      1. Oh completely his voice gives me shivers. I love Hunchback anyway it has one of my favourite scenes of animtion in it.

  15. Something to know and be happy about, Mulan, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit have all been added to Netflix Instant. So now in addition to those three, you’ve got Pocahontas, The Aristocats, Alice in Wonderland, Hercules, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, The Fox and the Hound, The Rescuers, The Rescuers Down Under, Dumbo, The Great Mouse Detective, Treasure Planet, and The Nightmare Before Christmas all on Netflix Instant. They’re slowly but surely building up their Disney collection, it’s only a matter of time before they start adding the really big ones like Little Mermaid, Lion King, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Pinocchio, Snow White, and others. Good work Netflix, good work

  16. Ok, Hi! First-time commenter but long-time reader (Since Bedknobs and Broomsticks, if anyone cares). I just have to say: For most of my childhood, the Lion King was my very favorite movie. It’s still one of my favorites. On of my earliest memories (I was around 3) is of my parents taking me to see this in theaters… and having to take me out because I was crying so hard when Mufasa died. And that just made me cry harder, because I had to see what happened! And then, at the end I started crying again. I think it was my first experience with tears of joy. I thoroughly enjoyed this review because it reminded me of so many happy childhood moments.

    1. We don’t take kindly to new commenters round he…what’s that? We love new commenters round here? Really? Alright. Welcome to the blog! Delighted you enjoyed it.

    2. Just curious, you don’t happen to be the Orange Octopi from Deviantart who’s got an orange with octopus limbs as an ID picture, do you? If so, I think we may have crossed paths before.

      Also, you totally snatched my initial username idea.

  17. So yeah, great review as always, probably your deepest and most profound I’d say, but I suppose that’s par for the course when Hamlet gets roped into things. Though I’m scared to imagine there being a further alternate universe where we ended up with Titus Andronicus with lions.

    I’d also like, if nobody’s already done so, to bring up that the Mali legend “Epic of Sundiata”, about the founder of their empire, was another main inspiration for The Lion King… well amongst the tons of others already discussed anyway.
    Granted, the Lion King doesn’t have any evil sorcerers from right out of nowhere in it, but still…

    Regarding your upcoming Pocahontas review, you totally have to work in a “DESPITE ALL MY RAGE I’M STILL JUST A RAT IN A CAGE” joke or variant thereof, if only because the song that’s from came out the exact same year.

    One last thing before I finish. Purely a “What If?”: If Disney were to adapt one of the old Irish myths, like the Tain Bo Cuailnge or the Fenian Cycle, or even something more obscure like the Mael Duin stories, I was wondering which one you’d expect them to do and which one would you want them to do (assuming the two don’t overlap)?

    Right, thanks for giving this mere comment of mine a read, till next time y’all.

    1. Fantastic question. Lemme see. Honestly I’m not entirely sure that I’d want to see Disnified Irish folktales. Sometimes the movies are good and sometimes they’re not but there’s usually serious liberties taken. I know plenty of Greeks were furious over what they did to Hercules. The Cuchulainn stories are just too violent to work in the Disney style. I suppose a Fionn movie could work, showing him becoming leader of the Fianna, the Salmon of Knowledge and all that. Children of Lir would be another possibility but they’d have to change the ending. But I think that their best bet would be the story of Lugh and Balar of the Evil eye. Balar would make an awesome Disney villain.

      1. I’m part Greek and the Greek side of my family has been the most prominent in my life so I am very proud of my Greek heritage and I am not pleased with how they handled Hercules. I think it’s an OK movie for the most part but there are a few mythological things that REALLY bug me about that one, but we’ll save that for another time.

        Speaking of Ireland though, have you seen The Secret of Kells? It’s a really wonderful little animated film from Ireland about a young monk and a legendary illuminated manuscript. The animation is gorgeous as it’s done sort of in the style of an illuminated manuscript and it’s really well worth checking out. It’s on Netflix Instant so you should be able to watch it no problem.

      2. Oh it’s a lovely film. Hercules improves immeasurably if you imagine that Hera is secretly orchestrating everything bad that happens to Herc behind the scenes.

      3. That would make it better I guess. I would also probably like it more if I didn’t honestly find James Woods so damn annoying and never threatening. Seriously, they took the goddamed GOD OF DEATH and couldn’t ONCE make him terrifying?

      4. I get what you’re saying too but he just doesn’t do it for me. In my opinion, the one big redeeming factor in that movie is Meg, for two reasons. First, Susan Egan does an AMAZING job voicing her, giving her a lot of sass and attitude that you don’t really see in other Disney women. Second, I Won’t Say I’m in Love is far and away the best song in the movie. Hell, I’d say it’s in my top ten favorite Disney songs, it’s got such a great sort of motown feel to it and it fits the character perfectly.

      5. I’m with Lobo…I’m not Greek, but what they did with the Mythology is a disgrace. Meg had at least the potential to be interesting. But I guess we have time to discuss this when the movie review is done.

  18. Mouse, THANK YOU for your defense of Scar as an effective villain. I know a few people who miss the idea that his cowardice, back-stabbing & utter deplorable nature is the whole point behind his character. There’s very little sympathy to be made for someone with the audacity to murder his family just to get what he wants; sending the Pride Lands down the shitter just drives the point home, and you nailed it with your explanation with “The Moment”.

    To get in on this Pocahontas talk, I honestly have only seen the movie once in my life, back when ABC still had The Wonderful World of Disney. Even at eight or nine years old I just thought, “Ugh, lame”, especially with the ending. The art & score seem to be the strongest things the film has going for it, two elements I always took for granted as a kid, so I just might re-watch it on Netflix for the upcoming review.

    Oh, and one more thing, because your mention of Disney tackling Irish myths reminded me of something I found out a few months ago, something that I thought would never actually happen but is in fact just on the horizon: An in-canon Disney animated film based off of a Marvel property, albeit an obscure one.

  19. This article gets the award for my favorite Bahia reference. XD

    I’m glad you love the Lion King. It’s easily my favorite of the Renaissance and one of my all time favorite films.

    Very excited to read the next review. I think I mentioned this on another post, but Pocahontas is one of my least favorites. I think the score and music is among the best. But besides that, I’m not fond of it. (I’m a history major, and a lot of it is just sugarcoated). Also the character design is so bland to me.

  20. I totally cried while reading this review, wow. But I remember this movie helping me realize, that, you know, I was going to die some day, and my dad too and EVERYONE ELSE and I’ll never forget it. I still love this movie though. And I’ve read all your reviews and I think they are wonderful, I look forward to each one.

  21. I hate to be the dreaded corrector here, but Mouse won’t finish the disney movies till like the first of May 2014. There’s still 20 movies to review, not including sequels.

    Some of these movies are:
    Atlantis: the lost empire
    Treasure planet
    Emperors New Groove
    Home on the range

    That’s just the beginning, plenty of reviews to come.

  22. “I Just Can’t Wait to Be king” was always my favorite song from the movie, even one of my favorite disney songs,lol, well i guess everyone has their own opinion 🙂

  23. Found this a couple days ago and thought I’d share it here. This is a short test animation that Disney did around 1985 for a potential Where the Wild Things Are movie. The purpose of the test was to show that they could successfully integrate hand drawn characters with computer generated backgrounds, and while the movie was never made, this test animation became part of the basis for the CAPS animation system. Oh, and the short was directed by John Lasseter (because of course it was) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LvIDRoO8KnM&list=FLuqYJzInDQN7HqkQ6nZU1EA

    1. Yeah, I remember seeing footage of this reel in a documentary about Pixar a few years ago; there was no added significance to the source material & I never heard of the Spike Jonze movie, so I didn’t pay it any mind, although at the time I sworn I saw the kid in pajamas somewhere else before.

      Man, a Disney version of Where the Wild Things Are. Could you imagine? Menken & Ashman instead of Karen O, the silent bull-like Wild Thing as the villain, and–for whatever reason I thought of–Bill Murray as Carol.

  24. This movie. THIS MOVIE. This was the first movie I saw in theatres as a…hmm, I was probably 5 at the time. For my 22nd birthday this was in theatres in 3D and you bet your ass my parents picked me up early from chorus rehearsal, took me straight down to the theatre, and sat on either side of me while I held their hands and wiggled in my seat. THIS. FUCKING. MOVIE.

    I have so many of the McDonald’s toys for this movie that I have repeats and I was genuinely *mad* when my parents, thinking they originally belonged to my older sister, gave them to my sister’s kids. Only the modicum of maturity in me prevents me from taking them back (but seriously, my niece never plays with them >.>)

    The music that plays when Simba ascends Pride Rock still gets me every time. I can actually make it through Mufasa’s death, but inspirational instrumental pieces are something of a downfall for me.

    Who on earth dislikes “I Just Can’t Wait to be King”? Robots? Satan? It’s definitely Satan, isn’t it.

    As for criticism of the movie…honestly I can only find a real point to criticize from a feminist perspective. Lionesses are not exactly slouches in the fighting department, but it takes the introduction of dudes to finally spell the end for Scar and the hyenas? Only *three* dudes, and only one of whom is a lion, at that? I get that it’s Simba’s story, but yeah no, Nala and Sarabi alone could have mustered Scar out right quick, with Rafiki kicking some hyena ass. I guess this actually makes the sequel (which is not as good and still a bit head-scratchy, but I do enjoy it) Fridge Brilliant with the idea that some lionesses were loyal to Scar, and with division in the ranks a rebellion would have been futile. This would make the truth about Mufasa’s death the catalyst for some Scar-supporters to defect to Simba’s side, enough to stage a successful coup.

    Though I’m not sure how anyone could be loyal to Scar since he was such a bad king that he *made it stop raining*. Actually some people have argued that it was just a natural dry season…maybe Scar pissed off some other animal kingdom monarchs and that’s why he refused to follow through with what would have been a regularly-scheduled venture? It’s not like Scar gives any reason for refusing to let the pride move on other than For The Evulz, so that guess is as good as any, I think.

    I have to shower for work so I have to cut myself off here, but hopefully I can be back with more commentary in a little bit.

    1. Me. I don’t like “I Just Can’t Wait to be King.” Why? Well the main reason is because it makes Simba seem like a self-entitled little douchebag, not exactly great traits for your main character. It’s probably the one part of the movie that I legitimately don’t like watching

      1. He’s royalty and the equivalent of a six-year-old, of course he’s a self-entitled little douchebag. If Simba never matured and got a comeuppance, then I can see this song being grating, but since he does this song just looks charmingly naive in retrospect.

        In the meantime, all the little kids in the audience can identify with wanting to grow up and be awesome at everything and not have to listen to an adult tell them to clean their room or do the dishes or finish their homework. It’s even a guilty pleasure song for an adult, who’s got a schedule and a boss and hell, maybe even still parents breathing down their neck. Show me someone of any age who has never wanted to scream “I DO WHAT I WANT” in an authority figure’s face, and I will show you a very skeptical look.

      2. Just because it’s understandable doesn’t mean it makes it OK or endearing for the character. The kids who act like that are the ones that we generally refer to as “brats”

      3. I’m really not seeing Simba being set up as “a brat” as a character type with IJCWTBK. Every kid, even “good kids”, have bratty, sullen moments, particularly if they’re privileged. I see this with my niece…she can sulk and throw a tantrum when she doesn’t get her way, but she’s four. Four-year-olds do that, and they’ll grow out of it if the parents stay on top of discipline. She’s otherwise a sweet, bright, loving kid.

        At this point in the movie we’ve already seen Simba be eager, curious, excitable, and having genuine loving relationships with his parents (who, let’s be honest, encourage his sense of privilege…hello, “pouncing lesson”); very soon we’ll see him be frightened, protective, embarrassed, learning from his mistake and becoming obedient (much to his detriment, sadly…now THERE’S a mixed message). His character was already developing, and immediately continued to develop out of the “brat” characteristics.

        (Also, sometimes, dare I say it, a kid’s tantrum or posturing can be *hilarious* in retrospect, and I think that “oh kids, they don’t have a clue” filter gets applies to IJCWTBK for me.)

        So, I mean, you don’t have to love the song, but I disagree that this song *by itself* can characterize Simba as a brat. All kids, irredeemable brats and little angels alike, have IJCWTBK moments whether in their heads or in big displays. All adults remember having IJCWTBK moments (and if they don’t, they really ought to, because it goes a long way in understanding and teaching kids), and really probably would like to have them again because honestly they’re a bit cathartic. It’s the same reason people love villain songs…there’s a need to dabble in the “not socially acceptable” emotions, even if you’re supposed to be the protagonist. Even if you know that Simba needs a comeuppance, even if you ENJOY Simba getting his comeuppance, that doesn’t necessarily preclude you from liking this song, because as I said, everyone has a “I DO WHAT I WANT” moment from time to time, and it’s genuinely *fun* to inhabit that moment for a little while.

  25. Okay I should be super mad at you for rating Scar above Jafar, but I get it. Scar is awesome. So I’m just slightly mad. Plus Be Prepared is a great song. One of my favorites. You can never have just one favorite when it comes to Disney. It’s against the law.

    1. He’s entitled to his own opinion. I don’t agree with him either on this one but you have to respect his opinion

  26. Man…this was the Disney film I had been looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the most, and it’s really taken me this long to comment?

    First of all, what can I say about this movie? It’s no wonder it’s my favorite Disney movie of all time. It was a huge part of my childhood, and I grew up with fond memories of it. And let me just say, even though it has gotten many positive reviews on the Internet, I am so glad that it finally has a review that DOES IT JUSTICE. Take that, Doug Walker; in your face, Confused Matthew!

    Anyways, on to some of the points you made that stood out to me:

    I personally think the animation should have gotten a 20/20, just because I simply see it as absolute perfection. In my opinion, it is 19 years old and it STILL looks amazing. But hey, at least you gave it a good score.

    THANK YOU in regards to Kimba the White Lion! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run across a fanboy that simply WILL NOT SHUT UP about it. I watched part of it just to see what the fuss was about…and SERIOUSLY? THIS is what has them all up in arms?! I found it to be a subpar opus, at best. And let’s say Disney comes out and admits it. Alright, what do you want me to do about it? The film is going on 20 years old next year. So what exactly are we supposed to do about Lion King and Kimba’s similarities, I wonder. It’s too late to boycott the movie (too late five or six times over now, in fact), and I’ve already bought the dang thing on home video twice (VHS and DVD).

    LOVE the Stan joke.

    I think Simba was talking about Scar actually lying to him about who was responsible for Mufasa’s death, but you make some good points regarding the things Scar says to Simba. He just tells the truth in a deceptive way.

    And…this part in the movie did bother me a little. I really wish they would have clarified that Mufasa was NOT Nala’s father, even if it was just mentioned in passing. I’m sure they could have found a way to fit it in. Personally, due to having read Lion King fanfiction, I’ve adopted theories on who Nala’s father is and what happened to him. I personally think he could have served as another male lion in the pride, though I wonder how the movie would have been different if he had been a character?

    I like your reasoning in regards to the hyena’s role, or lack thereof, in the balance of the kingdom. It makes perfect sense.

    The first time I read the way you described the stampede, especially the emotional aspect of it…I had to go to YouTube myself to watch it. It’s just that powerful.

    I’m surprised you skipped over the scene with Scar ruling the Pridelands and Simba’s moment with Timon and Pumbaa looking at the stars. In my opinion, they are two of the most important scenes in the show because they show how drastically everything had changed on so many different levels since the beginning of the movie. Especially with Scar…though I personally think this could have been expanded upon more before we see Simba make the decision to return. That’s one of the ways I think this movie could have been improved.

    Another way is Can You Feel the Love Tonight…not that I don’t love it to death but I do wish they had used the original version with Simba and Nala. It was longer, it had a great variety of different lyrics, and it was even more touching in my opinion.

    I also watched the alternate Simba decides to return scene, where he fetches Nala to come back with him. I wish they had kept this scene for two reasons: one, it expands on Simba and Nala’s relationship before they head back to Pride Rock. And two, Timon reacts to Simba’s decision in what I believe is much more in character for him. I think it would make sense that he would have an extremely hard time leaving Hakuna Matata at first, so I think that should have been kept. But you know what? I still don’t have a problem with what they ended up doing because it goes to show that Timon and Pumbaa will do anything to help their friend.

    So yeah, basically my only problems with The Lion King is that I wish it were longer. It came to be only 84 minutes…surely they could have added 6-9 more and given more meat to it.

    I’ve heard swanpride say that Simba should have been partially responsible for his father’s death. I think that really misses the point of the movie because it is not telling us it’s Simba’s fault; also we already see how Simba would have gotten that idea anyway. Let’s say Mufasa dies protecting Simba from the hyenas in the graveyard. Here’s what’s wrong with that: Simba doing all the disobedient things would show how innocent Scar is, even on the secretive side of the matter because he didn’t do anything to cause it. And by then, Scar coming off as a villain would’ve been just fruitless as there’s no indication of how he’s evil. Simba actually would have BEEN guilty, and nothing would have stopped Scar from proving Simba’s guilt. This wouldn’t work at all.

    Anyways, I think I have said enough so far, and I can’t wait for your Pocahontas review. I have heard a lot of backlash for the movie from different critics, and yet even though I know it’s a flawed movie I can’t quite understand why it’s THAT BAD> Hopefully your review will clear it up for me.

    1. Couple things. First, Mufasa is Nala’s father. Get over it, it’s a fact. Lion prides have one male, that’s it. Even having Scar around is pushing it as the dominant male lion will always kick out the lesser males, including their own cubs once they’re big enough to be a threat.

      Second, I think you misinterpreted what Swanpride meant. What should have happened is that Scar should have set it up so that Simba became partially responsible for Mufasa’s death. That way there is actual guilt that can’t just disappear when Scar admits that he set up Mufasa’s death. That’s the main issue I have with the climax of the film, and it’s a sentiment that Doug Walker echoed in his review. By having Simba NOT be responsible at all for Mufasa’s death, the message of the film essentially becomes “Well you’re guilty of your past actions, unless you didn’t actually do them.” It’s in direct conflict with what Rafiki tells Simba earlier about putting the past behind you, because that’s not what actually allows Simba to overcome the guilt, it’s finding out he was never actually guilty in the first place. If he HAD been partially responsible for Mufasa’s death, then he would have had to own up to it, to admit that he made a mistake but that he came back to make things right. That’s what they were setting up with Rafiki’s message to Simba, but they failed on the follow-through when the lionesses lost faith in Simba when he told them he was responsible for Mufasa’s death, and only had it restored when Scar admitted that it was really all his own fault. It really undermines the poignancy of Rafiki’s words to Simba because there is suddenly nothing for him to actually put behind him.

      1. “Couple things. First, Mufasa is Nala’s father. Get over it, it’s a fact. Lion prides have one male, that’s it. Even having Scar around is pushing it as the dominant male lion will always kick out the lesser males, including their own cubs once they’re big enough to be a threat.”

        You’re incorrect in one area. Lion prides do NOT always have just one male. Male lions will sometimes form a group of two or three (sometimes up to five but that’s rare) and rule a pride together. I know because I have studied lions by watching documentaries and reading books, and I want to be either a zoologist that studies mostly lions or a lion trainer someday. The movie never specifically says that Mufasa is Nala’s father, so why should we take it as complete fact?

        “Second, I think you misinterpreted what Swanpride meant. What should have happened is that Scar should have set it up so that Simba became partially responsible for Mufasa’s death. That way there is actual guilt that can’t just disappear when Scar admits that he set up Mufasa’s death. That’s the main issue I have with the climax of the film, and it’s a sentiment that Doug Walker echoed in his review. By having Simba NOT be responsible at all for Mufasa’s death, the message of the film essentially becomes “Well you’re guilty of your past actions, unless you didn’t actually do them.” It’s in direct conflict with what Rafiki tells Simba earlier about putting the past behind you, because that’s not what actually allows Simba to overcome the guilt, it’s finding out he was never actually guilty in the first place. If he HAD been partially responsible for Mufasa’s death, then he would have had to own up to it, to admit that he made a mistake but that he came back to make things right. That’s what they were setting up with Rafiki’s message to Simba, but they failed on the follow-through when the lionesses lost faith in Simba when he told them he was responsible for Mufasa’s death, and only had it restored when Scar admitted that it was really all his own fault. It really undermines the poignancy of Rafiki’s words to Simba because there is suddenly nothing for him to actually put behind him.”

        I already covered this on the Aladdin comments. Doug is completely wrong about this and totally missed the point. There’s no reason to think that after Sarabi got over her shock and if it had not been revealed that Scar was the one who killed Mufasa in cold blood, she would not have forgiven and even comforted Simba afterward. Especially since he said it was an accident. But she couldn’t even get to him anyway, because Scar was already attacking Simba left and right as well as surrounding him with the hyenas, backing him up towards the cliff. Also, keep in mind that Nala had asked Simba why he never came back; well, this is the reason for them, as well as the reason for their current predicament.

        The movie’s lesson is not really “You have to confront your past and your mistakes” as much as it was “you can’t run away from your problems, you have to learn from them.” We know Simba didn’t make any mistakes, the movie isn’t saying that. Like I said before, we saw Scar kill Mufasa. By having Simba be even a little responsible, we take away how effective of a villain Scar is. We know Simba doesn’t make any mistakes. Rafiki ONLY said he had to confront his past, not his mistakes. As far as Rafiki knew, Simba was only supposed to get over WHAT HAPPENED to Mufasa and defeat Scar; he didn’t know that Simba thought he made a big mistake. That’s what the Rafiki scene doesn’t address, and what Scar’s accusation DOES address.

        Other morals include: from one form of leadership after another shows another lesson as to how you control your power if you were a ruler. With great power comes great responsibility. When Simba discovers how Scar’s power is abused, it elaborately establishes how Simba learns from this whereas earlier in the movie, he thought he could do whatever he wanted. As for Scar, don’t ever commit any sin (kill, lie, etc.) for the sake of possession or envy, and learn to control your trust from others wisely. After Scar faces Simba in the final showdown, he gets devoured by the hyenas because he used their trust against him regarding the death of Mufasa, stating they were the real enemy as a defense. And to put the cherry on top, the Circle of Life teaches the wildlife in a manner: the food chain, and the balance in breed of the food chain. Mufasa elaborates on the balance in breed, implying you have to respect others below you in the food chain such as the Antelope. The funny thing about that is Timon mentions the food chain, which I actually think about when watching Animal Planet or National Geographic. There are a LOT of lessons implanted in this movie.

    2. You’re a prince, and thanks again for all the hard linking work you’ve been doing.

      I went into the review completely expecting to give it the full twenty for animation but then I watched Tarzan, which I had almost completely forgotten was one of the most stunning animated movies ever made. And I had to ask myself, if Lion King is a twenty, then what’s Tarzan? A twenty three? And to be honest, it just wasn’t as fantastic as I remember it. It’s very, very, very good. But it just didn’t have that WOW factor for a lot it.

      The Kimba controversy I think betrays a misunderstanding as to how art is actually created. Now, yeah, plagiarism is a real thing and it’s certainly not something that any self respecting artist would do. But no piece of art is just “Mozarted” into existence from the ether. Everyone who creates has influences. In the case of this blog, I freely admit that mine is Cracked.com. I took that style and used it for my own material and to cover a subject that I find interesting.

      The unfortunate thing about the “Nala had another Dad” theory is that, if Mufasa was going by actual lion behaviour, he would have killed her as the only cubs allowed to survive are those that carry the genes of the alpha male. Scar’s offspring would have gotten a pass as they were related (I think male lion siblings share prides sometimes, but I could be wrong). As I said, lions are gross.

      I would have loved to cover those scenes with Scar and Timon and Pumbaa but the review was just going on too long. I’ve had to restrict how much of each movie I review or by the end of this thing the final review of Frozen will require eight Watson-level supercomputers to contain.

      The Pocahontas review is fascinating to write. I’m finding new ways in which the movie doesn’t work with each layer I uncover.

      1. “The unfortunate thing about the “Nala had another Dad” theory is that, if Mufasa was going by actual lion behaviour, he would have killed her as the only cubs allowed to survive are those that carry the genes of the alpha male. Scar’s offspring would have gotten a pass as they were related (I think male lion siblings share prides sometimes, but I could be wrong). As I said, lions are gross.”

        Actually, lions are not that gross in real life. Because in real life, all the male cubs are banished around 18 months-2 years old. They don’t look at sons as heirs…the male lions rule a pride until they die or another male lion takes it from them. And yes, male lion siblings can and do rule a pride together.

        I’ve also heard that lionesses will mate with more than one male while she is in heat. So cubs could come from any male of the pride, as far as I know. Here’s the thing about The Lion King though: Mufasa is not a typical male lion in the slightest. I’ve heard that males eat first…but I picture him allowing the pride to eat before he even touches a bite.

        I like to think that Nala’s father was a great friend of Mufasa’s and may have died trying to help him defend the Pride Lands from rogue lions. That’s just one theory proposed by fanfiction though. If a movie doesn’t explain something, it’s fun to come up with your own ideas about it instead of someone telling you your opinion is wrong. And here is what I always say to those people; just because the movie doesn’t show something doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

      2. As far as Tarzan goes…I think it’s a pretty film but I don’t think the animation is better looking than The Lion King’s. I think it is, at best, the standard way a Disney film looks. I dunno, I’ll have to watch it again, but even as a kid I remember thinking, “Elephants aren’t red.” That didn’t bother me at the time though, and it doesn’t bother me now.

    3. One thing. Doug DID NOT bash The Lion King, he said that eh does not think it is one of Disney’s greatest works but still enjoys it. It is like when someone says one bad thing about this movie that they hate it.

      I do understand where Swanpride and you are coming from. If Scar did make it LOOK LIKE it was Simba’s fault, than it would have made Scar a stronger villain, and would have made the climax less contrived, but I do agree with you on the fact that Sarabi and Nala were too shocked to really do anything, and that they would have forgave him

      1. And yeah, Mufasa is most likely Nala’s father, which is beyond gross (but that is how Lions work). The Kimba thing is beyond ridiculous; there are common similarities between movies and shows, and this is just one pf them and if it is, than the people who made Kimba did not even try because they know Disney has the best lawyers.

        Unshaved Mouse, I know Pocahontas has issues, but don’t be too mean to it. Just kidding. I cannot wait for it

      2. He DID make it look like it was Simba’s fault. Don’t you recall the scene where he slyly tells him, “you might want to work on that little roar of yours”? Then Simba takes the bait…I’m sure Scar heard him roar just as the wildebeest were starting to run and thought, “That’s going to be easier than I thought.” Again, the movie isn’t saying it’s Simba’s fault! So the message is NOT “own up to your mistakes”.

      3. Oh and I never accused Doug of hating The Lion King or bashing the movie. I’ve only spoken out against him missing the point entirely. I don’t have a problem if he likes it or not.

  27. Well, apparently there’s a German animated adaptation of Tarzan coming out this year. Doesn’t seem to be ripping off Disney’s TOO badly. Look’s nice enough but is it just me or do the character’s movements seem…off. Can’t really put my finger on it but they don’t seem natural http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AyaQO_DQf9E&t=90

  28. I guess we will have to agree to disagree on Mufasa’s death being more traumatic than Bambi’s mother’s. Now I love Lion King to death but the death of Mufasa never really reached out and grabbed me like the death of Bambi’s mom did. The thing about Bambi’s mother’s death is it is totally out of left field. They’re getting through the winter just seeing the new spring grass and all of a sudden…BAM…Bambi is now an orphan. Whereas in the Lion King, the entire movie up to now is building up to this moment. Scar has already stated that this is what they are trying to accomplish and on some level you know it has to happen to move the plot forward. Thats not to say it wasn’t sad. it absolutely was. But The Lion King has a dramatic story arc it needs to go through and these are the pieces that need to happen for it to reach completion. Bambi always felt more like real life to me. theres no real story arc. its just the life of some deer in the forest and just like real life, sometimes everything seems to be going well when all of a sudden something comes along and totally shakes up your world and theres nothing you can do about it. And the fact that is was faceless hunters who we never see just make it all the more terrifying.

  29. Oh, this movie! I know I should “The Lion King”, but even though I still think it’s good, it’s not one of my favorite Disney movies. I say Disney did at least three movies in the 90s, which I think are better: “Beauty and the Beast”, “Aladdin”, “Hercules”, “Mulan and “Tarzan”.

  30. “As for the animation, it’s…very good.

    But I honestly remembered it being better. I had this idea that there was a massive leap in animation quality from Aladdin to Lion King and now I don’t think that’s the case.”

    Having just rewatched this film myself, I had the exact same impression. I think the reason I remembered it as being better animated than it in fact was is the color palette. The movie has some of the most eye-popping color design in animation: from the very, very strong and bold reds that open the film, to the deep blue and gold when Mufasa and Simba are under the stars at night, to the lime-greens, pale purples, and orange-reds of Be Prepared. Every scene has a particular set of colors in it, often with one or two very dominant, vibrant colors. And in memory the colors stay more vivid than character motion or animation.

    Just a guess. One of my favorite all-time movies, but I also was surprised on a rewatch, having thought the animation was better. If anything though the sound and soundtrack was better than I remembered. (And very tight storyboarding and satisfying editing, and on and on about the movie’s strengths.)

      1. This is my husband’s favorite Disney film, and though its doesn’t make it in my top 5 personal favorites, it’s respectfully in the top 7. However, am I the only one that finds Timon and Pumba annoying? I mean people always complain about the gargoyles in Hunchback, but I don’t hear anyone complain about these two. Mouse, I am really curious to know, what is your favorite Disney movie?

  31. Love the continued Bahia references. Pumbaa for sure has the look on his face.
    Would you please explain the “Lazy Bastard Kookaburras” joke? I’ve read all your stuff and I get that it’s falling off a cliff and may stem from The Rescuers Down Under.. Thank you!

  32. You know, rereading this…Disney totally restole their own idea…the whole scenery with the father on the rock and everyone coming to see the new prince…that is soooooooo Bambie. So I guess Kimba stole from Bambi and Disney stole the scene back?

  33. Ha! I didn’t have to wait for this review to come out, so I didn’t say everything about it in the comments section for your Aladdin review! This one’s going on its own page, baby!

    Plot twist: Stan was actually deployed by Cleopatra Mouse to rescue a child trapped and about to be eaten by hyenas. Scar was hoping to give the slobbery, mangy, stupid human-poachers an edge, but was stopped. Zazu never knew his nagging remark saved a life. Also, classic job getting in on the “Pride Rock Scene” meme while also incorporating your running Bahia gag. And of course “good Iion today!” is one for the books. Had me rolling.

    As for I Just Can’t Wait To Be King… How old were most of the people who dislike it? I was a little kid when I first saw the Lion King (it was honestly far back enough that I don’t have a distinct memory of my first viewing), and I think that was my favourite musical number then. I kind of missed that Simba was being kind of annoying until watching it later, so I have a feeling it probably is very relatable to a kid’s perspective (when you’re at the age when everyone makes the rules for you, the idea of being the guy who makes the rules seems real sweet), but doesn’t hit home for people who are old enough to get that grown ups don’t just get their own way all the time.

    Y’know, funny story, my first thought after hearing the claims that the Lion King was based on Kimba the White Lion was something like, “cool, that means there’s actually a Disney movie with Japanese inspiration, that’s a really prominent country Disney never seems to acknowledge”. I guess that would mean that Disney didn’t give due credit for the inspiration, but this is the same movie that featured The Lion Sleeps Tonight and didn’t pay that song’s creators off, so in a way it’s kind of already established that the company was kind of playing the “screw the rules, I have power” card.

    Though in any case, I still find it a wonder that so few people ever seem to bring up the similarities between the Lion King and the Egyptian myth of the murder of Osiris. That story was basically the Hamlet archetype story that predated Hamlet itself and shares a few themes and elements with the Lion King that Hamlet doesn’t. The leitmotif the Lion King has with the cycle of the rising and setting sun is very reminiscent of Ancient Egypt’s mythology. Also, unlike Hamlet, this myth ends with the uncle and the nephew both alive, with the nephew managing to take the kingdom from the uncle. Also, unlike Claudius (whom I really see as being far less comparable to Scar than MacBeth is), the myth’s villain, Set has accomplices, and was actually thought to have been seen more negatively to the Egyptians due to his representing foreigners, which put him in a bad light to their relatively xenophobic tastes.

    Which I guess brings me to the whiskey-thirst-inducing subject. (Fun fact, I remember an experiment that seemed to imply that dark maned lions are considered more attractive to lionesses, so Scar’s portrayal could be taken as an evil-is-sexy angle). Whether or not the hyenas are considered Mufasa’s subjects is a tad inconsistent from what I remember; when Scar said Mufasa was going to die, the hyenas’ response was “Who needs a king?” implying that Mufasa’s death meant anarchy for them, not a weakened neighbour state. Also, when Scar does manage to gain control, Banzhai says “and we thought things were bad under Mufasa,” which seems to directly state that he ruled over them. Those aside, yes the hyenas kind of parallel at least World War era Germans (I’d go into whether their not sharing the Nazis’ eugenics and torturing tendencies would make them mostly just parallel German nationalists, not Nazis themselves, and how sympathetic the nation of Germany was regarding only the war and not the Holocaust, but I think I’d best leave that to our other resident waterfowl) but I wouldn’t quite call the hyenas’ inhabiting of the Pride land a military occupation. They didn’t overtake the place by charging teeth and claws first, they only got in once it was run by someone who didn’t crack down on keeping them out. And they didn’t seem to so much oppress the lions once they got there, just milk dry the natural resources there were apparently only enough of to support the population of one elite nation and had no room for the inhabitants of the nation of have nots. So pretty much, I think the idea that the Lion King hates black people is laughable (is the third Toy Story movie racist? Whoopi gets a similar role in it), but I’m not quite as sure about what it has to say of the Mexicans.

    I guess in a way, drawing inspiration from myth and legend is kind of a blessing and a curse. You’ve got themes as old as time which have had millennia to be refined and mused over, and their survival proves them to be something powerful, but then again, the further back a story comes from, by definition, the less progressive it’ll be. I seem to remember the first time I started honestly questioning this movie’s themes being around the time I studied the works of Shakespeare and learned of some of the kooky world views they had. Hamlet had a bit of themes of the Divine Right of Kings idea which the Lion King kind of shares with it. I had this in mind when I was saying how I particularly liked Aladdin’s character in that movie’s review. I think what puts him ahead of Simba is that he earns what he gets, and what he is given comes off as being awarded to him due to his character. Simba isn’t told to take the kingdom back because he’s a better diplomat, than Scar, or even because his heart’s in the better place. Mufasa tells him “you are my son, and the true king”. So he doesn’t so much earn leadership so much as it’s treated as a birth-given right he needs to fight for.

    All right, now that I’ve gotten out the one, solitary thorn in my side regarding this beautiful movie and feel as if I’ve given enough justification for my personal selling it short in my comment on the Aladdin review, let’s mention other things. Like Zimmer. Zimmer is brilliant, and can you actually believe it, the first time I actually heard his name was credit to him for scoring a Dreamworks film of all things. Madagascar, actually. So he will go down for me as That Guy Who Makes Really Awesome Music For Movies Starring Lions. And you’ve described perfectly how that stampede sequence was plain gold. Y’know, it’s really funny, remember when I said I don’t actually remember the first time I saw the Lion King? Yep, I do not remember my initial reaction to Mufasa’s death. It kind of just feels like that he died was common knowledge for me for as long as I can remember, so I don’t have any recollection of its impact. Damn, do you think I could make a case against history for that? I can’t help get the sense that I was robbed somehow.

    I think I’m one of the few who actually still likes Timon and Pumbaa as much as back then. It might help that Timon ties with Scar for my mother’s most quoted character in the Lion King. Maybe they get points for starring in one of the most addictive licensed game of my childhood. The fact that Nathan Lane apparently considered Timon to be gay when he played him probably gives him quite a few progressive points as well (and I guess also makes him the Flower of the 90s as well as its equivalent of Baloo). As for Broderick, I actually thought it was cool that he voiced grown up Simba. The idea that with the upbringing of carefree jungle creatures, he would eventually develop into animal Ferris Bueller kind of came off as a neat bonus when I heard the two share a role.

    Funnily enough, I remember the first time I read your review of the Jungle Book, I was pondering to myself why so many people claim Louie’s portrayal is racist, but nobody thinks Rafiki’s is. I guess I was wrong about nobody thinking that. Though I guess I can kind of understand why it’s different. Louie spent most of his time envying a (albeit non-white) human, whereas Rafiki is the only primate in a movie of carnivores and ungulates, so there isn’t any real implication that being a monkey makes him inferior to anyone. His being the only one to use tools (Timon’s dance sequence notwithstanding) and things like that really kind of make his accent seem kind of akin to giving only the humans regional accents in Finding Nemo and the like; it comes off as making him seem more human as opposed to less.

    Also, the one role I associate Rowan Atkinson with the most is that of Mr. Bean, so your description of Mufasa showing up eating a can of beans gave me the mental image of him sitting with a can of tiny hornbill chicks sticking a toothpick through their squeaking, squirming bodies and snacking on them, which was just so absurd that it sent me into peals of laughter. That has to be the most accidentally hilarious statement in one of your reviews to date.

    Though I (or is it Nit, I think he’s still parasitizing me) might be able to answer your fifth question about Timon’s dance sequence. Hyena occupied pride lands was a starving hellscape for carnivores. An apple wouldn’t be food for them, so they could still be starving if there are apples present.

    Ha ha, great segue into the next review. Though didn’t you nuke those keyboard-typing animal viewers into oblivion a few reviews ago? Shouldn’t they be all bandaged and cyborg’d up like the second-battle portrayal of Star Wolf?

    In any case, great review. Wow, don’t think I’ve left a comment this long since discussing my baby, Alice in Wonderland. I wonder if anyone will actually read through this without getting comment vertigo at the top. Guess there’s no turning back once my honker’s been set off. Hello post button.

    1. I have a 2 year old daughter who loves this movie and has watched it so much that my tolerance of it is pretty low right now lol. I will however confess that I feel the same way you do about this movie as Batb- but I don’t dislike it, I just don’t get why so many people think it’s the best Disney movie out there. This is surprising because the plot is right up my ally; I’m a huge Hitchcock fan and enjoy twisted murder plots.
      I guess I just didn’t find it as interesting or emotionally satisfying as it could have been given the content. For me personally the characters were either annoying: Timon and Pumba, and sometimes Zazu, or stupid: the 3 Hyenas, or dull: Simba and Nala, and pretentious: Mufasa. On a positive note, I did like Rafiki, and Scar is an amazing villian, rivaling Frollo and Maleficent for top spot. Also running the risk of sounding heartless, I didn’t find Mufasa’s death that sad, but like I said it could be my indifference to the characters.
      There are some scenes I love, Scar and the mouse, the final battle between Simba and Scar, and last but certainly not least, the Be prepared scene, which is my favorite song and scene in the movie. However, I think what kills it for me is the parts with Timon and Pumba, not only are they painfully unfunny, but they introduce the dreaded fart and burp humor, not to mention that they really ruin the movie’s dark tone. I will also admit dispite it’s popularity, I don’t like the Hanukah Matata song. Also I didn’t find the whole Mufasa in the clouds scene emotionally satisfying; but that could also be because I cared even less about the adult Simba than the kid one, it could also be due to Matthew Broderick’s bland delivery.
      So in short, I don’t hate it but I also don’t think it’s the greatest Disney film ever. Brilliant review as always mouse and I’m sorry this film doesn’t resonate with me like its does you. It worked far better for me when I saw it when it first came out when I was 10 🙂

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