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The Lion King Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 5.0

    out of 100

    Universal acclaim
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 88

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    There are moments of fun and humor, to be sure, but the undercurrent is of a far more serious, "adult" nature. The Lion King is primarily about guilt and redemption.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    Basically what we have here is a drama, with comedy occasionally lifting the mood. The result is a surprising seriousness; this isn't the mindless romp with cute animals.

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  • 91

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    Has the resonance to stand not just as a terrific cartoon but as an emotionally pungent movie.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 6+

Musical king-of-the-beasts blockbuster is powerful, scary.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Lion King is considered one of Disney's greatest animated musicals, but it does have some scary moments. The most disturbing violence is the death of Simba's father, Mufasa, by a stampede of wildebeests. The bloodthirsty hyenas, who scavenge for food and threaten Simba and his friends, are also frightening. But despite a few sad sequences and a few evil characters, the overall message is one of hope, love, and family responsibility. Note: The movie's 2011 theatrical rerelease is in 3D, which adds to the intensity of the more frightening scenes.

  • Families can talk about facing your problems instead of running from them. Why doesn't the idea of "hakuna matata" or "no worries" always work? Can anyone get through life without a little worry and conflict?
  • Talk about the violence and scariness in this movie. What was the most disturbing part? How would the movie be different without the intense moments? How did music and other factors contribute to the intense scenes?

The good stuff
  • educationalvalue true1

    Educational value: This isn't an educational film, but it does provide many lessons about family and responsibility.

  • message true1

    Messages: The Lion King focuses on the idea of family, love, and sacrifice. Mufasa's willingness to save Simba exhibits unconditional love. As Simba grows up, he comes to understand that he has a responsibility to his father's kingdom to take his place.

  • rolemodels true1

    Role models: The main character learns to face his problems and learns how to be a good leader. Some have remarked that the hyenas (just like the crows in Dumbo) are voiced by minority actors, bringing some negative stereotypes to mind, but on the other hand, so are Simba's parents, both of whom are portrayed as selfless and loving.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence and scariness: There are some seriously scary scenes and bloody fights between animals. In one harrowing sequence, a father lion is trampled to death by a stampede of wildebeest after saving his cub. That parental death is a pivotal point in the movie, and it haunts the son throughout the second half of the film. Another lion is responsible for his brother's death and later tries to get rid of his nephew. A group of hyenas terrorizes two cubs and eventually acts as a scavenger army. A character is killed by hyenas, but viewers don't see the actual murder.

  • sex false0

    Sexy stuff: Chaste flirting between Simba and Nala, who are eventual mates.

  • language false0

    Language: Not applicable

  • consumerism false2

    Consumerism: While there's no consumerism in the movie itself, this is one of Disney's biggest blockbusters and has myriad merchandise tie-ins, including video games, toys, straight-to-DVD sequels and even a Broadway musical.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false0

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Not applicable