Children’s Film Review: The Lion King
Title: The Lion King
Director(s): Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff
Screenwriter(s): Irene Mecchi & others
Studio: Disney Released: 1994
Rating: G (US)
Runtime: 1h 29m
Starring: Matthew Broderick, Jeremy Irons, James Earl Jones, Whoopie Goldberg, Nathan Lane, Robert Guillaume, Moira Kelly, Rowan Atkinson, Cheech Marin
Other: Won 2 Academy Awards, $45M Budget, $1.08B worldwide gross, IMDb score 8.5/10.
My Rating: 2.0/10
This is the first review in a series where I try to find children's movies that are appropriate for conservative and/or religious families. Some movies will be good, some will be bad, most will be somewhere in the middle.
I got the idea when I sat down with my 2-year-old and turned on the Apple TV. She picked this one and I remember not really caring for it much when I was a kid, but thought, well, it's harmless, why not?
This is the first problem.
We, as a culture, have come to trust big companies like Disney. My wife used to work for Disney. She was in the department in charge of making clothes and costumes for children, and she knew the strict rules they had in place so that garments wouldn't easily catch fire or have loose buttons and threads that little ones could potentially choke on or accidentally get wrapped around their neck. When you see guidelines and procedures like this in place, you automatically assume it's because the company cares about their customer.
I'm sure somewhere near the bottom of the totem pole, customer satisfaction is on there. But the main reason these things are there is so they are covered from any sort of litigation or worse. They care more about getting sued for millions than they do if some baby chokes.
How do I know this? Well, it's pretty evident when you watch some of their movies. I will say that not every Disney movie is horrible. There are some that are actually pretty good. But about two minutes into The Lion King, I was not only reminded why I didn't like it as a pre-teen, but I was also shocked to see how indoctrinating it was with regard to a few things.
One, FatMan and I have been observing this disturbing phenomenon occurring over the past 20 or so years. That is, there are a lot of people who hold animals in higher regard than people. I'm sure he will write about it in more detail soon enough, but the gist of it is that now more than ever, people will favor animals over other humans in many types of situations.
One reason is anthropomorphism. You see this in The Lion King. They take animals—you know, those things in the wilderness that you wouldn't want to be caught dead near, all alone and away from weapons or civilization—and they humanize them. They give them feelings and intellect and all the things that separate us from them. Sure, dogs show a certain level of feelings and good qualities we love in other people. And sure, anthropomorphism has been around for millennia. But right now, it is en masse. You never see the lion actually tear apart a gazelle anymore. For as "real" as a show like Planet Earth is, they sure do everything in their power to show the underdog prevail. The prey always seems to escape nowadays. I would much rather my little one see that reality than the narrative that the weak survive. Again, sure, predators don't always capture every single prey they hunt. But they do capture prey. Often.
Then, there's the absolute falsehood displayed in The Lion King. All the animals in the Kalahari or Saraha or wherever it's supposed to take place in—fantasyland, I guess—they all congregate to pay tribute to the new king, cub Simba. They actually bow and cheer. Nowhere but a fantastic setting would this ever occur. What is the point? This hasn't even occurred in Western Civilization (other than the pomp and absurd ridiculousness of the UK royal family) in over a hundred years. Right away, the premise of the movie collapses on itself. There is no reality where I can continue watching and believe anything within can occur.
But we move on because I don't want my daughter to cry.
We meet the weird uncle, Scar. About the only relatable detail in the movie. Even then, his dinner manages to escape. We learn he wants to be king. In the real world, the land is big enough for many lions to be kings of their own making. If they are lucky enough to escape being killed by other familial males, they can find another herd (or whatever the technical term we've given a group of lions is) and make it their own. Not in The Lion King though. There's only room enough for one lion herd. It's a good thing Mufasa died when he did. I'd hate to see him and Simba go at it like they would IRL.
Eventually, Scar gets Mufasa killed while also managing to pin it on Simba who has to escape into exile. This is where it gets really annoying. Simba ends up meeting Timon and Pumba, a meerkat and a warthog respectively. They manipulate Simba into being something other than a lion, and Simba is too naive to really do much about it. They even convince him to eat bugs. What the line? "Slimy, yet satisfying." I would laugh it off if that wasn't almost verbatim to what people who promote bug-eating tell normal people. I'm sorry. I will try almost anything. I might even, for novelty sake, try bugs. But they will NEVER, EVER be sustenance, nor will they ever satisfy any part of my mind or body.
Back to the movie. Somehow, Simba's childhood friend, Nala (played by Moira Kelly, who I had the biggest crush on in high school) finds Simba, convinces him to come back to the land of the lions, fight Scar and yadayadayada... the rest of the movie is the same old story.
Point is, when a movie pins a real-life protagonist as the antagonist, that usually means it is liberal nonsense or even worse, socialist/communist propaganda or even worse still, globalist/NWO means of mind-controlling.
Scar may not be the strongest, but he is cunning and bright and that makes up for any sort of brute strength. Simba is neither strong nor smart. He is definitely weak in the mind and lacks any sort of confidence that would make him aware of whatever body strength he may possess. If I had a son, Simba would not be a role model I would want him to look up to.
Protagonists are supposed to have faults that they work on and eventually fix. But those faults cannot be deep character traits. They need to be ancillary, in other words, fixable. That way the story is believable. Simba is a weak character and nothing he experiences makes me believe he has fixed that fault. In fact, they reinforce his weakness, making his character, the plot, and the entire premise of the movie more unbelievable than Nessie cooking dinner for Bigfoot on a UFO.
I give this movie 2 out of 10 possible points. The animation and Moira Kelly really save it from a 0. I don't care for James Earl Jones (he always overacts), Matthew Broderick is a beta male who has always rubbed me the wrong way (Ferris Bueler would've been way better if he were played by Johnny Depp [who I don't much care for either, but at least he's more manly]). In fact, he is perfect for Simba, but that doesn't make me like either of them.
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