Movie Mom

Movie Mom


The Lion King

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:G
Profanity:None
Nudity/Sex:Some potty humor
Alcohol/Drugs:None
Violence/Scariness:Characters in peril, murder, scary stampede and hyenas, sad death of a parent
Diversity Issues:Diverse characters
Movie Release Date:1994
DVD Release Date:October 3, 2011

“The Lion King” finishes its record-breaking theatrical re-release in 3D with its first Blu-Ray in a superpack and I have five to give away!  Details below.

One of Disney’s most popular animated features (and the inspiration for one of Broadway’s biggest blockbuster) is ”The Lion King,” a sort of cross between “Richard III,” “Henry IV,” and “Hamlet.” It is the story of Simba (voice of Jonathan Taylor Thomas as a child, Matthew Broderick as an adult), the cub of Mufasa (James Earl Jones), the king of the jungle.  Simba “just can’t wait to be king.” But his evil Uncle Scar (Jeremy Irons), bitterly jealous of Mufasa, wants to be king, so he arranges for Mufasa to be killed in a stampede and to have Simba think he is responsible.

Simba runs away, and finds friends in Pumbaa the warthog (Ernie Sabella) and Timon the meerkat (Nathan Lane), who advise him that the best philosophy is “hakuna matata” (no worries). Simba grows up thinking he has escaped from his past, but his childhood friend, Nala finds him, and tells him that under Scar’s leadership, the tribe has suffered badly. She persuades him to return to take on his responsibilities as King of the Pridelands. He learns that it was Scar who caused Mufasa’s death, and he vanquishes Scar to become King.

Not just a movie, but a marketing phenomenon, this blockbuster was the highest grossing film of 1994. Amazingly, it made even more money in merchandise than it did at the box office, a fact for which audiences have been paying ever since, as each subsequent Disney animated movie seems to be designed primarily as a commercial for teeshirts, lunch boxes and action figures. The score, and the song “Circle of Life,” with authentic African rhythms and instruments, won Oscars for Elton John and Tim Rice.

Parents should know that the death of Mufasa is genuinely scary and young and sensitive children may be frightened of the stampede, the hyenas, and the family betrayal.  More troubling is the arrogance of the “Circle of Life” explanation, which is mighty reassuring as long as you are the one on top of the food chain. And worse than that is the whole “hakuna matata” idea, which is genuinely irresponsible.  Make sure that kids realize that even Simba finds out that he cannot run away from his problems.

Family discussion:  How was being king different from what Simba thought?  What does your family do to welcome new babies?

If you like this, try: the stage production, with its extraordinary puppets, “The Lion King 1 1/2,” a much better-than-average sequel, and other Disney animated classics like “Aladdin” and “The Little Mermaid.”

To enter the contest for the Blu-Ray/DVD Combo: send me an email at moviemom@moviemom.com with “Lion King” in the subject line and tell me your favorite song from this movie.  Don’t forget your address!  Good luck, and I will pick a winner a week from today.



  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Stephen N.

    This is my #1 favorite film OF ALL TIME! I HOPE I WIN!!!!!!!!!! To me this is the single BIGGEST Blu-Ray release EVER!! No words can express how much I adore this movie!

    • Nell Minow

      That’s great, Stephen! Be sure to follow the directions in the post about how to enter and good luck!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment monkie

    We finally went and saw this over the weekend. We were undecided about 2d or 3d, but I decided it was probably too scary for the twins (age 4) so we went ahead and saw it in 3d (my 8 yr old, my 10 yr old, his gf, and I). The 3d was decent, actually better than I’d expected for a redone film, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first time I’d seen it. Maybe my expectations were higher this time? It really struck me how the whole ‘circle of life’ thing sounds a whole lot better when you’re the lion than when you’re the antelope. Also, this may sound weird, but the lack of genitalia on the lions was really noticeable during the fight scene at the end. Not that I want that sort of thing on screen, but couldn’t they have drawn them from a different angle instead of making them look like Ken dolls? It just looked weird. At any rate, the kids loved the movie :)

    • Nell Minow

      Thanks, Monkie! I agree entirely about the circle of life thing — it always bothered me. Not so much on your other point! But glad the family enjoyed it.

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  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment JayRandall

    Have you already picked winners for this contest?

    • Nell Minow

      Yes! Winners will be posted soon — stay tuned.

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