5 Reasons Why You Should See The Lion King This Summer

By Catherine Salgado on August 7, 2019

The new live-action remake of Disney’s The Lion King has garnered a good deal of attention and even more conflicting reviews from critics. Despite the fact that the story is almost identical to the original 1995 movie, many have tried reading modern political messages into this new retelling. Critics have both praised and bashed it. Since I read some reviews beforehand, I was hesitant when I went to see the movie, but having watched the movie I have come down totally on the side of the fans. If you are looking for a fun movie to watch this summer, here are five reasons why you should choose The Lion King!

Firstly, it is a very entertaining and well-done movie! The graphics are beautiful—from the scenery to the characters, each aspect is so detailed and realistic that it is difficult to believe that everything isn’t actually real. The story adheres very closely to the original, beloved story, with some new comedic touches added in. Whether you are laughing or crying, the movie successfully evokes sympathy for and interest in the story and its characters. The music is the same classic songs with new voices, and each of the songs is accompanied by an exciting and engaging routine.

From “The Circle of Life” at the beginning to its encore at the end, the movie is engaging, funny, touching, and delightful. I went to the movie with young people of a wide range of ages, and I think I can confidently say that children, teenagers, and adults alike will find something to love in the movie. Secondly, the father-son relationship between Mufasa and Simba is a wonderful feature. The U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2017 that over one in four kids lives without a father in America, leading to detrimental effects on kids such as a 4 times greater risk of poverty, 7 times the likelihood to face teen pregnancy, and a higher likelihood to commit a crime.

In a world where the necessary institution of fatherhood is crumbling, The Lion King provides everyone with a touching picture of who a good father should be. Mufasa guides, corrects, and protects Simba, who asks him eagerly at one point, “We’re pals, aren’t we?” When Mufasa dies, Simba has an identity crisis, increased by the cruelty of the very individual who should have been a replacement father to him: Scar. It is only when Rafiki and Nala help Simba reconnect with his long-gone father that Simba knows how to be the king he was meant to be: by following his father’s example. Mufasa, both as the father of Simba, the husband of Sarabi, and the king of the pridelands, is a thoroughly admirable character, one who always puts his family first.

Thirdly, friendship is presented in a way that is both positive and non-preachy. From the childhood friendship of Simba and Nala to the comradery of Simba, Pumbaa, and Timon, the characters provide a wide range of examples of how friends should and should not act. Whereas the young Simba heedlessly leads Nala into danger, the older Simba rushes to save Pumbaa from being eaten by the grown lioness. Whereas Simba, Pumbaa, and Timon begin their friendship by declaring a mutual desire to renounce all responsibility and seek nothing but pleasure, Pumbaa and Timon later race to put themselves in danger so that they can help Simba regain his kingdom from Scar and Scar’s evil hyena posse.

Meanwhile, Scar and the hyenas are only “friends” because they can use each other—at the end of the movie, Scar, having blamed the hyenas for all his crimes, is killed not by Simba, but by the hyenas, the very creatures whose fickle loyalty helped him gain the kingship in the first place. The message is clear: friendship is not about what you can gain from the other person. It is about putting aside your own comforts and wishes and striving to help other people, no matter the personal cost.

Fourthly, amidst the chaos and anger of the #MeToo movement and the constant vitriol in the public square between the sexes, The Lion King tells a story where males and females perform various roles in a symbiotic and harmonic relationship. Scar’s blatant disrespect of and cruelty toward Sarabi and the other lionesses and his usurption of their role (hunting) presents a blinding contrast to the affection and respect with which Mufasa and Simba interact with the lionesses. While Mufasa rules, he guards and protects the pridelands while Sarabi and the other lionesses maintain the delicate balance between securing enough food and overhunting. Both Mufasa and Sarabi care for and guide young Simba.

Nala later rebukes Simba for refusing to assume the responsibilities which are rightly his since his father died, furiously criticizing him for selfishly abandoning his mother and the other inhabitants of the pridelands to the mercy of Scar and the hyenas. Simba’s confrontation with Scar finally occurs when Simba jumps to defend his mother from Scar. Nala and the other lionesses are right by Simba’s side in the fight with Scar and the hyenas. In other words, the females guide the males in understanding what is right and nurture and care for them, while the males protect and maintain the peace and safety of the pridelands and lead all the various species. Both fight fiercely for what is right and both are strong and brave.

Fifthly, the male heroes really are heroes! Reading the news and watching movies, the opinion being constantly drummed into our heads seems to be that all strong males are oppressive and irreverent toward women. Males in movies and TV now seem overwhelmingly to be either feckless or barbaric. “Men have always craved a reason to matter, a mate and a mission,” as writer Paul Brian puts it. “Some behaviors we now think of as ‘manly’ are in fact socially constructed parodies of masculinity.” It is harmful, Brian contends, when the media sets about “demonizing men, promoting the idea that courage and strength are just romanticized bunk.” Looking at Scar (a bully who is really a thorough-going coward) and Mufasa, one might note that there is a world of difference between “an aggressive, intemperate jerk and a tough but respectful man.”

It seems that there is a false dichotomy being set up here. The message seems to be that when one sex is strong, the other is weak—when one sex has an important role, the other sex has an unimportant or less praiseworthy role. The Lion King, I believe, does an excellent job of overturning this dichotomy. Whether it is Nala, running to the forest to find help, criticizing Simba, and fighting the hyenas, or Sarabi, standing up to Scar when no one else is, the lionesses are hardly weak characters.

What makes The Lion King delightful is that the heroes match the heroines (unlike in Moana, Frozen, or dozens of other movies). Mufasa is brave, strong, responsible, reliable, loving, dignified. Simba, once he finally accepts his responsibilities, immediately confronts Scar, fights him, and assumes his rightful role as king. Simba, like Mufasa, is only confrontational and “brave” when he “has to be,” showing mercy to Scar and working whole-heartedly to repair the damage that Scar has caused because Simba left the pridelands. As Rafiki puts it to Simba, “Your father lives in you.”

Whether you are looking for a movie which indirectly addresses difficult current issues or a movie which is simply an enjoyable and well-rounded story, I would recommend that you go to the theater to see The Lion King this summer!

Hi! I am a rising junior at Christendom College double majoring in Classics (Classical Languages) and Theology. I am the eldest child in a family of five kids and was homeschooled all the way up until I went to college. My hobbies include writing novels and articles, reading, knitting, drawing, playing piano and ukulele, and making jewelry. Post graduation, I hope to become a full-time journalist.

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