In movie #33 in the Disney Animated Marathon Disney manages to work the word majordomo into the script, I am proud!
Screenplay By: Irene Mecchi, Jonathan Roberts & Linda Woolverton
Directed By: Roger Allers & Rob Minkoff
I remember sitting in a crowded movie theater as a thirteen year old in June of 1994. This was an unusual theater experience for me, this was the first time I was seeing a Disney film by myself. I had yet to hit my ridiculous art phase that I spoke of in my long forgotten Halloween review, but by the age of thirteen my once staunch Disney friends had grown up and left their movies behind. I remember asking any of my friends if they wanted to go, and the same friends who had been there with me on the first day to see Aladdin and The Beauty And The Beast laughed in my face. Disney was kiddie crap according to them, they had grown up and it was time for me to do so as well.
With those thoughts rolling around in my head I got my mother to drive me to the theater and I used my chore money to buy a lone ticket for a singular viewing experience of The Lion King. To say that The Lion King helped to shape my adult imagination may be going too far, but I do believe it helped to further confirm that I was different than everyone I knew. What I saw on that large screen wasn’t kiddie stuff, it was the imagination given shape and form. It was a wonderful day, and I knew at that very moment that I would be watching movies like The Lion King for years to come. Others may call me childish, but I love animation, I love the imagination of great Disney films and I love how these movies that my friends and so many others label as kiddie stuff are more adult than so many “adult” movies.
Watching The Lion King years later I believe that it was the perfect movie for me to watch at that point in time. It’s not as adult as Pocahontas would be, nor is it as childlike as Aladdin was. The Lion King is a perfect mixture of both elements, managing to be adult and childlike in tone. The movie’s willingness to be more than one thing is a running theme throughout the film. The Lion King mixes physical and witty comedy, traditional and exotic animation, light and dark, flash and substance, and so on and so forth. The Lion King isn’t concerned with being any one type of movie, it is all the elements that can make certain Disney films great mixed together for a wondrous concoction.
There isn’t a need for any breakdown of the characters found in The Lion King, however there is one character that I do feel the need to highlight. Scar may be the best villain Disney has ever thought up. His evilness is natural, rolling off of him in the way that rain falls from the sky. There’s an ease about everything that he does, if you don’t share my view that he is the villain from Disney, maybe you’ll at least think of him as the most assured. Being voiced by the smooth and yet cold voice of Jeremy Irons certainly doesn’t hurt my case.
Maybe I’m just a giant kid at heart, I certainly act like one more than enough for that to be the case. I don’t know though, the critical side of my brain still looks at The Lion King and sees a fantastic film, one worthy of all the praise that I and others could lauded upon it. When I stop to really think about it that’s what makes The Lion King a film that is so easy to love, it appeals to the imagination inside all of us, while at the same time satisfying our need for critically sound cinema. No matter how you slice it, I’m happy that I was in that theater in 1994 watching The Lion King all by my lonesome. I refused to give up on a part of my childhood and it proved to be a very fruitful experience, one I am happy to have been able to share with you today.