The Lion King (1994)

As one of my favorite movies of all time, I can pretty much recite the whole of The Lion King while watching. It’s Disney at its best. Every one knows the plot, so I’ll save you the summary paragraph and just say that there’s not much to be done that could make the movie any better. The characters are great, the plot is great, the music is great…it’s a true classic. And how is it already twenty years old?

I like Simba and Nala – and of course Mufasa – but I love Rafiki, Timon and Pumbaa. Pumbaa in particular is one I always enjoy watching. The moment where Rafiki convinces Simba to return to Pride Rock is one of the best, both as entertainment and as continuing the lesson of the film.

Adult Simba: I know what I have to do. But going back means I’ll have to face my past. I’ve been running from it for so long.

[Rafiki hits Simba on the head with his stick]

Adult Simba: Ow! Jeez, what was that for?

Rafiki: It doesn’t matter. It’s in the past.

Adult Simba: Yeah, but it still hurts.

Rafiki: Oh yes, the past can hurt. But from the way I see it, you can either run from it, or… learn from it.

[swings his stick again at Simba, who ducks out of the way]

Rafiki: Ha. You see? So what are you going to do?

Adult Simba: First, I’m gonna take your stick.

[Simba snatches Rafiki’s stick, throws it and Rafiki runs to grab it]

Rafiki: No, no, no, no, not the stick! Hey, where you going?

Adult Simba: I’m going back!

Rafiki: Good! Go on! Get out of here!

Also let me give a moment to Jeremy Irons for his voice-work as Scar, as well as James Earl Jones with Mufasa and Jonathan Taylor Thomas/Matthew Broderick as Simba. It’s not always easy for actors to transition to voice-work, so I respect it when someone who typically does live action can successfully adapt to do an animated film. In fact, there are a lot of well-known actors in Lion King who you may not realize are in it (at least I didn’t at first). Whoopi Goldberg, Rowan Atkinson and Nathan Lane all do voices for the film.

And the music – the music has become iconic. In particular ‘Circle of Life,’ but who doesn’t love ‘Can You Feel the Love Tonight?’ Oh, and don’t forget ‘Be Prepared.’ Bringing Elton John in to do some of the songs worked perfectly. Whenever I need a pick-me-up, I turn to this movie and it really never gets old. There’s a perfect balance of comedy, lessons learned and emotion in it that pretty much everyone can enjoy and appreciate.

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