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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.