It began with "Cinderella." A steady stream of high-budget, live-action remakes to keep our minds occupied as we mosey towards the singularity. Some have done fairly well—"Beauty and The Beast," "The Jungle Book"—others, like "Dumbo," failed to impress.
After scoring the biggest opening weekend in history with "Avengers: Endgame," it's hard to imagine Disney has anything to lose when "The Lion King" hits theaters this summer. Yet I fully believe, in my heart of hearts, this is not going to go as planned. Here's why:
"The Lion King" is an inherently violent movie.
In case you were born under a (pride) rock and haven't seen the 1994 original, let me fill you in. Within the first thirty minutes, Simba narrowly escapes being eaten alive by hyenas, watches his father fall off a cliff, get trampled by wildebeests, and die. Now on paper, this sounds like stuff that would definitely not fly in a kid's movie. The film's saving grace is this: it's a cartoon.
Now imagine if you will, the events I just described to you—bloodthirsty hyenas cornering a baby lion, that same baby lion trying in vain to wake his mortally wounded father—except it has been painstakingly computer generated to lookone hundred percent real.
I'm not trying to be of those fear mongers who rails against "how violent movies are these days", all I'm saying is that if you take your kid to see this movie they are going to leave traumatized.
When I saw the OG Lion King I was five years old. Of course, I burst into tears when Mufasa died, but I wasn't mortified because I knew these weren't real lions. (If anything scares me now, it's how convincing Jeremy Irons was at playing a vengeful psychopath...)
The thing is, little kids are dumb. They don't know about their own mortality, they don't know how to tie their shoes, and they don't really know what the sun is. I'm telling you, most of them won't be able to tell that the characters they're watching on screen aren't real animals.
"Don't worry, I'll tell them it's all made up beforehand."
Look, pal, it doesn't matter if you hammer into your son or daughter or whatever red-headed orphan you're letting live in your mansion that Timon is not a real meerkat. What little Annie will see when Uncle Scar is torn apart by a pack of wild hyenas, is Uncle Scar being torn apart by a pack of wild hyenas.
What she will see between verses of "Hakuna Matata", is a scary pig and some furry thing crunching on enormous insects and slurping down caterpillars at incredible velocity.
(It doesn't matter if the meerkat sounds like Billy Eichner, those bugs are going to look very real, and very disgusting.)
While we don't yet know what the film's rating will be, if Disney wants to make any money (I think it's safe to say they do), we're probably looking at PG. Now, I come from a family with four kids and let me tell you that I have seen every PG theatrical release under the sun since the age of two. When summer rolls around and the kids get bored, parents will be looking for any excuse to escape the house.
A message to all the moms and pops out there: do yourselves a favor. Rent the original on Amazon and spend the day in.
It's cheaper than all the therapy you'll be paying for into the foreseeable future…