The task was simple enough: pick something to watch for group movie night. But “simple” is not in the vocabulary of a group of college kids. What ensued was a mile-long list of text messages with no one being able to agree upon a movie. Finally (and much to my approval), we at least narrowed down a genre that everyone was in favor of: Disney.
But with such a great library of classics, which one do you choose? Someone suggested Lilo & Stitch. Another threw out Tangled. Someone brought up Snow White, telling the entire story before our eyes with morbid emojis. I vouched for Finding Nemo. Another said The Lion King, to which someone else replied, “Never seen it.”
And then the globe stopped rotating.
What???? You’ve never seen THE LION KING?!? After everyone finished collecting their jaws from the ground… we settled on Toy Story 2. (Yeah, anticlimactic, I know right.)
I was determined, though, to get this guy to see The Lion King. It had to happen. This movie quite easily defined animation for our generation. It is THE pinnacle of what makes Disney, Disney. If I didn’t make him see it, I was denying him the completion of his childhood. (Or at least that’s what I told myself.)
So this was it. This is what all my WDW Radio training had led to. It was time for some field experience. Low and behold, a few weeks and a lot of persuasion later, there came the fateful sun rising over the savannah heralding a hearty “Naaaaaasevenyaaa.” I love watching reactions to Disney movies in any scenario, but to watch The Lion King with someone who had never seen it before… this was going to be fun.
My friend was more than happy to be interviewed following the movie to tell us all about it. So now, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, please join me in welcoming the only person who could, if necessary, replace all of the Jungle Cruise animal noisetracks with his own voice, Mr. Jeremy Herba!
Was there any specific reason you hadn’t seen The Lion King before now? Did you intentionally avoid it, or did you just never get around to seeing it?
Well, it’s not like I was deprived of Disney as a child. I had my share of great Disney movies. I can’t count how many times I watched Tarzan back to back. Lion King was just one of those classics I never got around to watching.
The Lion King is a pretty prominent film in popular culture, and in the Disney universe. What were your expectations for the film based on the fragments and themes of the story you already knew?
As a child, I watched a lot of Disney Channel. The Timon and Pumbaa TV show was a regular for me. So, I had some small insight into the movie without watching it. On top of all the scenes that everyone always recreates and the songs that I basically knew by heart, I feel I had a good sense of the movie. That might have added to why it never bothered me that I hadn’t actually watched it.
Was it better or worse than you anticipated? In what ways?
I consider myself a tough movie critic, so I was really hoping this Disney classic was not going to be a disappointment for me. Overall, I fairly enjoyed it. The musical scenes were actually more “magical” than I had been anticipating. My younger self would have definitely loved it.
What was your favorite part? Favorite character?
My favorite part would have to be the “Hakuna Matata” song/scene, which would also be the reason why my favorite characters were Timon and Pumbaa. I actually laughed out loud for some of their lines. Definitely brought me back to watching them as a child.
What would you say was your biggest take-away from the film?
My biggest take away would have to be how a great soundtrack can make a movie. On top of the awesome story line, this movie was enjoyable from start to finish.
I will say that watching Jeremy watch The Lion King was great fun. There were plenty of random, misguided comments (“That Zoozoo bird is gonna get it”), erroneous questions (“Is Pumbaa a girl?”), and genuine emotional peaks (“If what that monkey says is true and Mufasa really isn’t dead, this movie FAILS!”).
As the credits rolled, we discussed the film’s strengths, what he thought of it, and why it holds such a special place in the Disney legacy. “Yeah, I can see why so many people like it,” Jeremy said. “The strong soundtrack really made it.”
“You’re right,” I replied. “I love this soundtrack. The music in this and Hercules are some of my favorite Disney albums.”
“Hercules? Oh, I’ve never seen that.”
Blake is a college student focusing on Film and Creative Writing. He enjoys making his family of six watch the parade on Main Street and then sprint to Frontierland in time to see it again. You can follow Blake’s random Disney ramblings on Twitter at @olddirtyblake, or at BlakeOnline.com.