Behind the Fairy Tale: The Lion King

Is that a lion in the clouds, or have I been watching too much Disney?

Is that a lion in the clouds, or have I been watching too much Disney?

I remember when I first watched “The Lion King” in the theaters.  The intro was amazing, with that camera spanning the African wilderness, and all those animals bowing, and the African chanting in the background.  Of course, now I cannot listen to the chanting without hearing what a friend of mine heard it as – “Llama, llama, penguins in pa-ja-mas . . .”

And that’s just the beginning.  While all those animals bowing is pretty cool, it now strikes me as a bit odd that the monkey goes and holds up the baby from the cliff.  That’s a long freaking way down there.  I mean, yeah, they’re announcing the birth of the new prince, or in the case of the audience, the next guy that will probably eat you.  Which has to be partly why they’re all there – on the off chance the monkey drops the cub, they are gonna have some good eatin’ tonight.

Holy crap, this is not safe, dude.

Holy crap, this is not safe, dude.

And another thing, sure it’s cool when that monkey does it, but somehow this reminds me of another celebrity who did not get such good press for dangling his baby over a great height.

So, yeah, it's okay for Mufasa but not Micheal?

So, yeah, it’s okay for Mufasa but not Micheal?

But enough of the intro, baby Simba quickly becomes an obnoxious little cub that makes “The Little Mermaid” look like the best child ever.  He’s the prince and he knows it, and he’s gonna make sure everyone else does too by abusing his authority left and right – aws.  And just like in “The Little Mermaid”,  Simba’s dad has some flunky, this time a bird, keep an eye on his kid, knowing full well this flunky not only has no real authority over the prince, but stands a good chance of being EATEN by the prince should he ever get a bit peckish.  And they act like Mufasa is such a great king.

Anyway, Simba has a song about how he “Just can’t wait to be king” and I find it incredibly ironic that the elder Simba is voiced by Matthew Broderick of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” fame, because I can’t help but see Ferris in this scene.  And just like with Ferris, I really want to kick that little cub.  Oh, but Alice, he’s just a kid!  Yeah, and there’s a really good reason I decided not to be a teacher.  I don’t tend to like the majority of children, with obvious exceptions, because they are, well, children.

This seems so familiar . . .

This seems so familiar . . .

Ah, there we go.

Ah, there we go.

Anyway, we soon meet Scar, Simba’s uncle, voiced by Jeremy Irons, automatically making him the most awesome character in the movie.  He resents the heck out of his older brother, and no wonder, since Mufasa actually means “king” whereas Scar means, well, scar.  That sucks.  So just cause he’s a little younger, Scar gets nothing while Mufasa gets this entire harem, something Disney kind of glosses over, but let’s face it.  All those lionesses are not doing Mufasa’s taxes, if you get my drift.

Scar decides it’d be fun to get rid of the little punk, and I can’t say as I blame him.  He begs him not to go to the Elephant graveyard cause it’s oh so dangerous.  Naturally Simba decides to go, just like Scar knows he will, and he takes his good pal Nala along.

Oh, Nala, there is so much to this dynamic too.  Remember how I said Mufasa has this whole harem?  Well, Nala’s mom is a part of that, and we never see her Dad, so that must mean that Nala is also Mufasa’s kid.  Yet they’re engaged to be married.  So Simba’s supposed to marry his half-sister?  No wonder the two are disgusted by this idea.

Is that like, even legal?

Is that like, even legal?

Simba and Nala go to this spooky graveyard, and nearly get eaten by Scar’s pals, a group of idiot hyenas, once again reinforcing the “evil can never get good help” stereotype.  Mufasa comes in and rescues the two just in time, and then has a talk with his son about how he’s one day going to rule and how that means his subjects will both serve him and be his meal tickets, but that’s okay because . . . circle of life?

Meanwhile, murder attempt #1 has failed and Scar decides to tell his cronies about how they should “Be prepared” for him to take over and what that’s going to entail.  At one point we see the hyenas goose stepping  and dang, Disney is really going for the evil now.  This is my favorite song of the movie, because I guess I’m just sick that way.

I'm not sure what Disney could be going for with this . . . .

Oh, sure, but we say everyone’s Hitler these days.

Scar comes up with another plan, that is, leading Simba out to a valley and then getting his pals to stampede the Wilderbeasts over the mountain.  Talk about your overkill, but I guess Scar wanted to make sure someone really got smashed this time.  And it works, because Mufasa again comes to Simba’s rescue, but is unable to escape himself, mostly cause Scar knocks him off the cliff instead of giving him a paw up, saying “Long live the king.”

So Dad’s dead, and there’s Simba trying to get him to wake up cause he realizes that oh man, he is REALLY gonna be grounded now, when Scar helpfully arrives and asks “Oh, Simba, what have you done?”  Gawd, I love Jeremy Irons.  Oh, where was I?  Right, he gets Simba to believe that he is at fault for his Dad’s death, and that he’d better run away before anyone finds out his crime.  It works, and Simba runs, and then Scar makes another mistake.  He sends his minions after Simba to finish him off.  Wrong, wrong, wrong, Scar.  Of course the hyenas give up after a while, figuring there’s no way the cub will survive out in the wilderness alone.

But Simba is of course discovered by pals Timon and Pumba, a meerkat and a warthog.  Timon gets the idea that if they get Simba on their side now, when he’s a big lion he’ll totally protect them.  So they befriend Simba and show him how to eat bugs.  And this is where I gotta say, yeah right. There’s no way a lion’s gonna grow up healthy on bugs.  At some point, he had to have seen Timon and Pumba as two plump pieces of meat.  Hey, “Hakuna Matata” means no worries guys, so you probably won’t mind if I snack on your entrails?

Hey, guys, you're starting to smell kinda good . . .

Hey, guys, you’re starting to smell kinda good . . .

Sorry, I might have gotten a bit too violent there.  Simba grows up a lazy goofball while back home Scar runs the kingdom into the ground.  He’s not so good at balancing the whole eating certain subjects while keeping enough to still serve you thing.  Also he somehow managed to cause drought, which is pretty impressive for one lion.

But Simba, Timon, and Pumba are having a great time, staring up at the stars and making lots of fart jokes.  There’s even an entire song revolving around farts.  But eventually Nala has to show up and ruin all his fun.  She’s shocked to find Simba alive, and naturally assumes Simba’s gonna wanna come right back and defeat Scar when she tells him how he’s let the place go and stuff.

So now we come to the love song, and this is why I don’t normally get into the animals playing human parts bit.  It just kind of gives me the heebie jeebies.  I felt the same way in Disney’s “Robin Hood” where the parts of Robin and Marion are played by foxes.  Simba and Nala are even worse, staring into each others eyes, and then at one point Nala licks him and does this “come hither” thing and I start thinking of Wild Kingdom and my brains screams “OMG please say this isn’t happening!”

Get a room, guys!

Get a room, guys!

Thankfully they stop there.  Simba’s all, I am not going back there cause I’m a failure (well, sort of true) and then Dad appears in the clouds and tells Simba in his giant Darth Vader voice to get off his lion butt and go do what he’s supposed to do.  Then the monkey shows up, and hits him on the head, and Simba decides to return home and confront his uncle.

Simba and Scar have this big battle, and it looks like Scar is gonna win, but then he stupidly misplays his hand saying “I killed Mufasa.”  Oh, whoops.  This gives Simba the strength to keep fighting and, you’ll never guess how Scar dies.  Yup, another plummet death.  I never saw that one coming, did you?

Anyway, all is happy and Simba and Nala get married (cue banjos) and have a cub of their own, and the monkey once again dangles the baby up over the cliff and boom, the end.

That monkey's bound to be pretty old.  You SURE you want him dangling your kid?

That monkey’s bound to be pretty old. You SURE you want him dangling your kid?

Now as for where the Lion King originated – it’s fairly well known that the Lion King is loosely based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet.  In Hamlet, the king is murdered by his brother, who then marries the king’s wife, and the prince has to make up his mind about confronting his uncle.  Oh, and you get ghost dad there, too.  That all makes sense.  But, you might not know that Disney also totally freaking ripped the movie off of some Japanese anime entitled “Kimba the White Lion”.

I know this because, naturally, I get all my real news from “The Daily Show” and Cracked.com.  Check out this link, again from Cracked.com.  It’s unreal how completely shameless Disney is in its ripoff.  They weren’t even trying to disguise it.  Shaaaame, Disney, shaaaame.

They. just. didn't. care.

They. just. didn’t. care.
(Cracked.com)

So ends the tale of the lion king.  Stay tuned for our first human male lead in a Disney film, Aladdin.

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39 responses

  1. The kids I babysat years ago watched this movie for 2 months straight. Damn it.
    Good post, you broke it down perfectly.

    1. Thanks. Gawd, that’s horrible. Even really good movies suck after watching it over and over. I’d be tearing my hair out.

  2. “OMG please say this isn’t happening!” – that was my first thought too as I saw this part.

    1. Yes! Glad I’m not the only one who is freaked out by animal mating.

      1. do you remember Duchess&Thomas in Aristocats… crazy :o)

        1. Yeah I totally do not get those animal movies. “Everybody wants to be a cat!” Nope, not really, prefer the toilet to litter boxes.

          1. Many cats can be toilet trained.

          2. That’s still too much body hair. And like who has time to toilet train a cat?

  3. “Llama, llama, penguins in pa-ja-mas . . .”

    I have to remember this, maybe it will keep me from getting teary during the opening.

    I love most of the voice work in this film, Besides Jeremy Irons, Rowan Atkinson is the flunky bird, the Queen from “Coming to America” is Simba’s mother and Benson is Rafiki.

    Nathan Lane? Ugh.

    1. Which one is Nathan Lane? That little meerkat twerp? I remember young Simba was voiced by that snarky brat from Home Improvement.

      1. I thought Jonathan Taylor Thomas did a good job. It can’t be easy to be so convincingly obnoxious and then pathetic (in the death scene).

        1. Well, yes, but he was still a twerp.

  4. I like the Lion King because funneh, but there are parts of it that are just stoopid. Like the Pride Land becoming a barren place devoid of plant life because Scar sucks at being a king. Sure, that’s entirely plausible. Then Simba wins and suddenly the rivers are flowing again and the grass has returned. Life in Africa must be pretty FUBAR.

    1. Maybe Scar is like Obama, and so has powers over everything, even weather!

        1. And here I thought Scar was a communist Nazi dictator – oh, right, same thing. Nevermind. 😀

  5. This is hilarious!!! Thanks for the awesome start to what I fear will be a crappy (pun intended) week. Stay tuned…

    1. Thanks. Oh, man, I think it’s gonna be a crappy week here too. Ugh, have we only done Monday?

  6. For years I wondered why there was only one lion and so many lionesses in the movie. My brain just had an ah-ha moment followed by an aw man.

    1. Lol, I know. I suppose I could pretend that Nala’s dad was like a dead beat lion, or killed by wilderbeasts, but somehow . . . eh. What’s worse is later Simba’s daughter gets with Scar’s son or something and wow their family tree is horizontal.

      1. Haha! I’ll never watch those movies the same way again

      2. Also not quite realistic. A new lion would usually kill all the cubs when taking over the pride. So if Scar wasn’t a complete idiot, Nala would have been a goner.

        1. Mufasa’s the dumbest one. He should have killed Scar a long time back.

  7. Meh. Hilarious, as always, but it will remain one of my favorites. The music is just too catchy and compelling not to drag me in.

    1. It does have some really good music. I love the African music – even if I can’t hear the chanting without hearing “penguins in pa-ja-mas” now. 😀 And Elton John can compose awesome songs in the time it takes most of us to order breakfast at McDonald’s.

  8. I like this review! And “Llama, llama, penguins in pa-ja-mas . . .”? That made me laugh then i tried singing it that way and it made me laugh again!

    1. I know! When he said that, I kept hearing it like that and laughing.

  9. Nala will be in for a rude awakening when Simba continues the proud lionese tradition of getting other lionesses into his harem. This is not quite the happily ever after that Disney keeps peddling, unless they were planning on showing this movie only in Utah.

    1. The Lion King 3: Sister Wives

  10. I’ve never seen that movie. Thanks for the recap.

    1. You’re welcome. If you have to see a kid movie, it sure beats anything with Dora, at least.

  11. I’m probably the only person in the world who hasn’t seen this film. Now I don’t need to, though the way you describe it make it sounds pretty awesome!

    1. Scar is my favorite part, of course. Disney animators said they though Jeremy Irons could make even the phone book sound cool if he read it out loud. Check out his song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVAN2o-5pYM

      1. Thanks, I’ll check that out when I get home from work (i.e. when I have a sound card!).

        1. Zomg you read blog posts at work? Why I never . . . yeah I’m totes at work right now.

          1. The perfect villain voice, set to music!

  12. Agreed, Scar is definitely the best character. I remember seeing a documentary about the making of it when they released the film, and they tried to get something of the appearance of the dishy Mr Irons into the drawings of Scar. Look at the eyes. Or maybe don’t, as I’m pretty certain he can hypnotise.

    Oh, and Whoopi Goldberg was one of the hyenas – the smart one, of course.

    1. Yes! I love me some Jeremy Irons. I think you said something else . . .

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