Movie Mania: The Lion King Roars Again

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Theatrical release poster by John Alvin (borrowed from Wikipedia)

Disney released The Lion King in 1994 and it has never lost its magic.

I remember watching it in the movie theater in high school, just as captivated as my younger cousins. Fairly confident that I know every word in the movie and definitely know every song by heart.

Ten years later, when Broadway in Chicago had a touring show of The Lion King on stage, I was there, dragging a very unhappy husband to one of his first shows. HE loved it, and I can still get him to admit it.

Over the last eight years, our Lion King DVD comes out over and over again, and the kids can’t stop watching it. Without fail, all three kids have seen it as toddlers and become obsessed. There is something about Simba, Timon and Pumbaa that just capture the imagination of a 3-year old. The characters are silly, sad, angry, happy – everything that a toddler feels but can’t express. More so, they are heroes that still make mistakes – BIG Mistakes. There is a safety in the chaos of the Pride Lands as kids watch Simba grow from an arrogant kid to a scared adult and king.

The music is extraordinary and is what really solidifies the movie as something that will stand the test of time. A collaboration between Elton John and Tim Rice, it pulls you in from the opening scene through the films end. The cast is ridiculously good. With Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick in the lead, and Whoopi Goldberg, Jeremy Irons, Cheech Marin, and James Earl Jones as supporting players, there really is no way that you can go wrong.

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My youngest discovered The Lion King last month as we were navigating how to keep three kids busy during Winter Break. It has been top of his mind ever since, and you forget how special the movie really is until you watch a two-year old see it for the first time.

He runs around with no pants singing “Hakuna Matata” and in a surprise twist, yells passionately “MURDERER!” at his brother and sister when they make him mad like Simba yells at Scar in the end of the movie. We’re definitely going to need to get that one out of his vocabulary ASAP.

He’s now an avid fan of the new Disney TV show The Lion Guard which is a spin off following Simba’s son, and I’m sure that the Disney machine will find a way to keep this movie classic going and going and going.

If you haven’t had a chance lately, take a few hours and track it down. I promise that if you don’t have it, there will be a neighbor somewhere who does. From the opening musical score, you’ll be lost in the world of the African Pride Lands, Mufasa’s legacy, and Simba’s journey to embrace his true self.

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