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The Lion King

“Ah yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you either run from it or learn from it.”

Life in the African savannah is peaceful and thriving under the reign of Mufasa, a noble lion. The birth of Mufasa’s son Simba brings joy to all but one – Scar, Mufasa’s envious brother. Intent on claiming the throne, Scar incites a stampede that kills Mufasa – and blames Simba for the tragedy. The terrified cub flees to the desert and is left for dead. But the adventure has only begun when the carefree Timon and Pumbaa, a meerkat and warthog, rescue Simba and raise him as their own.

With thrilling music from Zimmer and bright 2D animation, The Lion King dramatizes a young king’s struggle to look beyond the past. Despite simplicity of the storytelling, The Lion King is one of the classic Disney films that have earned a permanent place on my shelf. Here’s why.

The Good

Under the care of Timon and Pumbaa, Simba learns the motto “Hakuna Matata” – or “No worries.” Simba forgets his past and assumes Timon and Pumbaa’s carefree lifestyle with “no rules and no responsibilities.” But that isn’t the end of the story. [spoiler!] Nala, Simba’s best friend, finds Simba and challenges him to come home because it’s his responsibility. After arguing with an old baboon, Simba faces his fears and returns to claim his throne. Timon and Pumbaa even pull themselves together to help. The result is a message to let go of the past while holding on to duty – or “learn from it, not run from it.”

As a young cub, Simba is eager to become king and be in charge – for all the wrong reasons. He wants to make the decisions, do exciting things, and be brave. But when Simba’s search for adventure nearly gets him killed, his father takes him aside and gives him a stern lesson about true bravery. In this way, Mufasa not only exemplifies noble kinghood, but he also models strong fatherhood by punishing his son for misbehaving in a firm but edifying way.

The Bad

The Lion King is a pleasantly clean film, with the only notable language being a few uses of “geeze” and some name-calling. There is, however, a dose of mild crude humor, as well as a romance between Nala and Simba.

Perhaps of most concern about this movie is the animals’ “religion.” Mufasa teaches his son that everyone has their place in the endless “circle of life.” He also tells his son that the great kings of the past watch down from the stars. Later, Mufasa’s spirit appears to his son in the clouds, and the baboon claims that Mufasa lives in Simba. Additionally, the animals have a few mystic rituals, most of which are performed by the baboon with his stick and symbolic fruit. While this shallow mysticism is tolerable in a movie about animals, it is worth noting.


The Lion King is a film that, although not very memorable, is timeless enough to be enjoyed as an adult. The animals’ religion needs to be noted as false, but it does not detract from the good morals about worry and responsibility. If you like a simple but enjoyable animated movie, this is a classic worth keeping around.