The Lion King
July 17, 2019
(We see the Channel Awesome logo, before we cold open to a man dressed in proper clothing, played by Doug, walking into a room)
Bob Iger: Hello, I'm Bob Iger, the owner of Disney, both the company and the human being. (A jar on a table, which contains an image of Walt Disney's face, is shown) For years, Disney has been the masters of imaginative family-friendly entertainment. But, every once in a while, we just like to slum it. You know what I'm talking about.
(Several images of various Disney media, including the TV show The Wonderful World of Disney, four posters of four live-action films including The Million Dollar Duck, The Cat From Outer Space, Now You See Him, Now You Don't, and Gus, a collection of various Disney direct-to-video sequels, and images of several Disney Channel movies and TV shows including Camp Rock, Hannah Montana, The Cheetah Girls, and Dev 2.0., are all shown)
Bob Iger (vo): From our TV specials that were literally just advertisements for our attractions, to our mediocre live-action films in the 70s, to our direct-to-DVD sequels in the 90s and early 2000s, to the "Out of Our Shells" Tour, except we actually showed you the poor kids outside of their costumes.
(Now we are shown various images of Disney's live-action remakes and sequels)
Bob Iger (vo): Well, recently, we've discovered another spectacular wave of "not trying" with our Disney live-action remakes. None of you liked them more than the original, yet for some reason, you see them in buttloads. I don't know the reason why, and I could care less. This is literally what my swimming pool looks like.
(An image of Scrooge McDuck diving into his Money Bin is shown, with Scrooge's face replaced with an image of "Bob Iger's" smiling head. Then we are shown comparing images of both the animated original and recent remake of The Lion King)
Bob Iger (vo): We're not here to understand it, merely exploit it. That's why I give you our next phase of half-assedness, Animated Remakes of our Live-Action Remakes. You all can't wait to see our live-action remake of The Lion King, can you?
Random person (off-screen): Um, what's live-action about it?
Bob Iger: The ground.
(Footage of the recent remake of The Lion King is shown, as well as several shots of an animator drawing several pictures)
Bob Iger (vo): Well, we know you love having James Earl Jones back as Mufasa, so not only are we bringing him back, but also Matthew Broderick, Jeremy Irons, Whoopi Goldberg, and the rest. Their voices will be placed in the hand drawn characters that were recently tracing from the live-action remake of our timeless classic.
Bob Iger: You can see all our animators working tirelessly to bring this to you.
(We see Doug portraying an animator, only wearing a fake beard and not having changed his Bob Iger clothes)
Animator: Hello, I'm an animator. I'd tell you my name, but I'm creatively bankrupt.
(We are shown more shots of the animator working on his drawings)
Bob Iger (vo): As you can see, we're taking the live-action Lion King and perfecting it with hand drawn imagery in a way you've never seen before.
Random person (off-screen): Yeah, this looks like the original Lion King.
Bob Iger: (frozen smile) No, it's something you've never seen before.
Random person (off-screen): It's clearly the same thing...
Bob Iger: Find that man and fire him.
(We are shown more clips from both versions of The Lion King, with the scenes of the remake being replaced with the scenes of the original)
Bob Iger (vo): From "The Circle of Life" to "Hakuna Matata" to literally every frame of the movie, Disney is bringing to life all your favorite scenes once more. Feel the magic of something completely new, completely original, completely Disney.
Bob Iger: Not interested in seeing it? You will, anyway. Because Disney has you. We have you. (Sinister music starts playing as Iger walks closer to the camera) We have you. We have you. We have you. (Speaks in a demonic voice) We have you.
(The title of Disney's "newest project" is shown)
Bob Iger (vo): Coming soon, The Animated Remake of the Live-Action Remake of the Animated Lion King. (Says the following caption) Disney: You're just gonna have to put up with this for awhile.
Bob Iger: And if you like that, wait till you see our Japanese export. (An image of Kimba the White Lion is shown)
(And we go to the opening, before showing NC in his room)
NC: Hello, I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don't have to. The Lion King. (Beat) I know, right? A YouTuber cashing in on the live-action one coming out? Weird!
(The title of the original Lion King is shown, before showing various clips)
NC (vo): The 1994 Disney smash was a phenomenon unlike anything Disney had seen in years. True, Frozen seems to be the queen of Disney's animated films right now, but back then, there was only one Lion King. Riding the powerhouse of animated hits that gained bigger and bigger box office, (Posters of The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin are shown) being the highest-grossing animated film for several years, and marveled as one of Disney's most profitable films, Lion King was a gold standard any studio back then, or even now, could be blown away by.
(NC, smiling extremely nervously, slowly holds up a piece of paper saying "Overrated", until he is suddenly pounced on by an animated lion and attacked and mauled off-screen)
NC (vo): Okay, let me make this clear off the bat. I actually really enjoy this movie. It's got a grand scale, it's epic storytelling, it's gorgeous animation. It's one of the few films where if there's ever a re-release on the big screen, I'll always go check it out, because it's such an experience. But with that said, when it first came out, I never saw it as the flawless masterpiece everyone declared it. But don't get me wrong, there is still a lot to admire. So, on the 25th anniversary of one of Disney's biggest hits, I've decided to go over what works about The Lion King, what doesn't, and figure out if it deserves all the credit it's gotten over the years.
NC: So let's look over a film that everyone declares it's so perfect, they'll happily celebrate a remake claiming they can do it better. (The poster of the 2019 remake is shown) This is The Lion King.
(The movie opens with the sun rising over the Pride Lands, before we are shown footage of the entire opening sequence set to the song "Circle of Life", where at Pride Rock, King Mufasa's and Queen Sarabi's newborn son, Simba, is presented to the gathering animals by Rafiki the mandrill)
NC (vo): I think this intro is ingrained in everyone's minds, as the world's most epic baby shower takes place, celebrating the birth of the lion prince, Simba. And all the animals gather to celebrate probably their murderer in the next several years.
NC: Aww, what the animals call the circle of life, we call it dictatorship. Cute.
NC (vo): The song is decent, the scope is vast, the animation amazing, yet something seems...different since I last saw it.
(NC looks closer and thinks deeper for a moment, before getting up and leaving the room, then coming back with the VHS cover of the film. He puts the tape into his unseen player, and watches the final shot of the opening sequence in VHS form)
NC: It is different.
(The final shot of the opening scene is shown in the normal Blu-Ray DVD format, as well as the VHS format of the scene)
NC (vo): I mean, it's not a big difference, but has anyone noticed that Simba and Rafiki are still in the original, but moving in the Blu-Ray?
NC: Honestly, there's quite a few changes like that which seem rather random.
(Various scenes are shown, both in the two different formats for comparison)
NC (vo): The gators look different in "[I Just] Can't Wait to Be King", Scar moves differently when looking at Simba, the big love song has a different layout. Even the letters in the dust spelling "SFX" or...
(A clip from Liar Liar is shown)
Fletcher Reede: Sex!
NC (vo): ...are gone. Again, it's minor, but part of appreciating why something was so impressive is taking in every part of the original. Even the tiniest flaw is a representation of the original work of art.
NC: You know, for all the people that go nuts when Lucas changes something, nobody's bitching or complaining about this!
(The scene of Han Solo and Greedo in Star Wars: A New Hope is shown)
NC (vo): Though maybe it's because they left Scar shooting first.
(Han's and Greedo's faces are replaced with Photoshopped images of Scar and Mufasa)
Scar/Han Solo (voiced by Doug): Long live the king.
(Scar/Han shoots Mufasa/Greedo dead. We go back to the movie, where we are introduced to the film's villain, Scar, who is sulking in Pride Rock's cave while holding a mouse)
NC (vo): Speaking of which, after the ceremony, the brother of the king named Scar, played by Jeremy "Surprisingly More Like a Cartoon When He's Not Animated" Irons, (An image of Profion from Dungeons and Dragons is shown) mopes at how he will never be king. Zazu, played by Rowan Atkinson, lets him know that his brother Mufasa is on his way.
(As Scar is about to eat the mouse, the king's majordomo, Zazu the hornbill, comes in)
Zazu: Didn't your mother ever tell you not to play with your food?
(The mouse escapes from Scar's paw and runs into a hole)
Scar: Oh, now look, Zazu. You made me lose my lunch.
NC: It's great seeing two of the most brilliant British actors of our time make food puns.
(Scar attempts to eat Zazu, but Mufasa comes in and stops him)
NC (vo): He's approached by King Mufasa, voiced by James Earl Jones.
Scar: Why, if it isn't my big brother descending from on high to mingle with the commoners.
(A clip from The Simpsons is shown)
Bart Simpson: (laughs) He's such a bitch.
Mufasa: That hairball is my son, and your future king.
Scar: (sarcastic) Oh, I shall practice my curtsy.
NC: (smiling) I literally have no choice but to use the same joke.
(We're again shown that clip from The Simpsons)
Bart Simpson: (laughs) He's such a bitch.
(Months pass, and we are shown Simba as a young cub waking up in the morning and being shown by Mufasa the entire Pride Lands at the top of Pride Rock, while explaining to him the responsibilities of kingship and the "circle of life", which connects all living things)
NC (vo): Some time goes by, and Prince Simba, voiced by Jonathan Taylor Thomas, is shown by his father how to be a noble king.
Mufasa: Everything the light touches is our kingdom.
Simba: Everything the light touches. (Notices a dark place in the background) What about that shadowy place?
NC: (as Mufasa) That's reserved for memes, son. (Various images showing memes of the current scene are shown)
NC (vo): And, yeah, you ever notice how one-sided this circle of life is? Here's their bullshit way around it.
Simba: Dad, don't we eat the antelope?
Mufasa: Yes, Simba, but let me explain. When we die, our bodies become the grass, and the antelope eat the grass.
NC: (as Simba) Still sounds like a shitty deal for the antelope. (as Mufasa) Yes, but our bodies become fertilizers, so it's fair. (as Simba) Yeah, fertilizer doesn't hunt us or decide when we die, Dad. I mean, how many antelope does one lion kill compared to the "grass" that one of our bodies will leave behind? (as Mufasa) Okay, it's Darwinism. It doesn't sound as pretty, but I can't help it if the chips conveniently fall in our direction. (as Simba) You just exploit it. (as Mufasa) Now you're sounding like a true king.
(Zazu arrives to greet Mufasa and Simba with the morning report)
NC (vo): Did someone say more animal puns?
Zazu: The buzz from the bees is that the leopards are in a bit of a spot. I told the elephants to forget it, but they can't. Cheetahs never prosper.
Mufasa: Zazu, would you turn around?
NC: (as Zazu) Wait, I have more animal jokes from my kindergarten book! (An image of a children's book called "Jungle Animal Jokes" is shown)
(Mufasa attempts to teach Simba how to pounce, using an unknowing Zazu as the target)
Zazu: What's going on?
Mufasa: A pouncing lesson.
Zazu: (realizing what they're doing and becomes frightened) Oh, no, Sire! You can't be serious!
(A smiling Mufasa motions to Zazu to turn around)
NC (vo; as Mufasa): Do it or you're singing the "Morning Report" song. (as Zazu) Oh, that's two minutes the audience would never get back!
(Simba pounces onto Zazu as Mufasa laughs. Later, Simba goes to see a still-sulking Scar)
NC (vo): Simba goes to see his uncle Scar, who taunts him with what's in the shadowlands.
Scar: An elephant graveyard is no place for a young prince. ("Realizes" what he said) Oops!
Scar: Oh, dear, I've said too much.
NC: (as Scar) You're going to make my mascara run!
(Later, Simba approaches a sunny spot to find his best friend Nala, as well as their mothers, Sarabi and Sarafina)
NC (vo): Simba obviously wants to go to the Elephant Graveyard, so he asks his friend Nala, played by Niketa Calame, if she wants to come with.
Nala: (while being bathed by Sarafina) So where are we going? It better not be anyplace dumb.
Simba: No, it's really cool.
NC: (looking uneasy at the shot of Nala being bathed) Should I put a censor bar over this? (A censor bar is added onto the scene) Feels wrong somehow.
Simba: (upon being asked by Sarabi where is this "really cool place") Around the waterhole.
Nala: The waterhole? What's so great about the waterhole?
NC: (as Nala) That's as crazy as me being replaced with a white woman when I grow up!
NC (vo): The mothers say they can go, but only if Zazu accompanies them. (Speaks in a slightly disgusted tone) Then Zazu makes it weird.
Zazu: You two are going to be married.
Simba: I can't marry her. She's my friend.
NC: (as Simba) And seeing how there's only three males in this group of lions and they're all related, probably more! (Becomes extremely uncomfortable) Kind of messed up when you really think about it!
NC (vo; stammering): Uh, d-d-play the song!
(Right on cue, the song "I Just Can't Wait to Be King", focusing on Simba's desire to become king and his and Nala's ensuing escape from Zazu with the help of various animals, starts playing)
Simba: (singing) I'm gonna be a mighty king...
NC (vo): Simba goes on about how he can't wait till he sings...I mean, to be king, as we partake in the feel-good song that usually focuses on the comic relief getting tortured, and is surprisingly the hardest level on the Super Nintendo game.
(A clip of that exact level from the Super Nintendo game of the film is shown next to NC)
NC: Damn monkeys! What direction are you supposed to face?! GET ME OUT OF THIS WATERING HELL-HOLE!
(The song ends with Zazu getting crushed under a rhino)
NC (vo): They lose Zazu under a rhino's ass...
NC: (chuckles) If I had a nickel...
(Simba and Nala enter the Elephant Graveyard, filled with elephant skulls and bones, and begin to have fun exploring the graveyard, until Zazu catches up with them, before they are suddenly cornered by three hyenas, Shenzi, Banzai and Ed)
NC (vo): ...as Simba and Nala make it to the Elephant Graveyard, as well as some unfriendly company.
Shenzi: (to Zazu) I know you. You're Mufasa's little stooge.
NC (vo): Yeah, this is during that weird time when Whoopi Goldberg had it in her contract whatever character she played had to look like her. (Two images of other animated characters Whoopi Goldberg voiced (one of them is Fantasy from The Pagemaster) are shown)
NC: I'm very okay not having that, 'cause I look like a bearded version of the farmer from Courage the Cowardly Dog. (An image of Eustace from that mentioned cartoon is shown)
Shenzi: What have we got here?
Banzai: I don't know, Shenzi. What do you think, Ed?
(The third hyena, Ed, laughs hysterically)
NC: (smiles) Can we all agree Ed is the best character?
Person: (off-screen) I like Timon and Pumbaa!
(Still smiling, NC takes out a remote and presses a button, causing an explosion that apparently shuts up the person that spoke)
NC: Everyone else? (Several audience members raise their hands and give a thumbs up) Yeah, it's Ed.
NC (vo): What's that? You haven't heard enough food puns yet?
Banzai: We could have whatever's "lion" around!
Shenzi: Make mine a "cub" sandwich!
Banzai: (noticing Ed is pointing towards the right) Did we order this dinner to go? 'Cause there it goes!
(Simba, Nala and Zazu are shown already running for their lives)
NC: What do you want? Robin Williams literally took the fourth wall with him in the last movie. (An image of the Genie from Aladdin carrying a brick wall is shown) This is the best we can do!
(Mufasa rescues Simba and Nala from the hyenas, before taking them back towards home as night falls)
NC (vo): Mufasa saves them, though, as he has to teach his son a lesson.
Mufasa: I've got to teach my son a lesson.
Zazu: Simba...good luck. (Leaves with Nala)
NC (vo; as Zazu): Don't be like your other brothers and sisters. (as Simba) What other brothers and sisters? (as Zazu) Exactly! (normal) Mufasa teaches Simba about responsibility in a line I think is actually more relevant now than it ever was before.
Mufasa: Simba, being brave doesn't mean you go looking for trouble.
NC (vo; as Simba): But the Internet says otherwise. (as Mufasa) Oh, Christ! (as Simba) Twitter says I should always be offended! (as Mufasa) What did I tell you about them? (as Simba) They need to see more physical people? (as Mufasa) And the sun! They need to see the sun!
(Mufasa and Simba eventually smile and start playing with each other)
Mufasa: Come here, you. (Gives Simba a noogie on his head)
Simba: Oh, no, no!
NC (vo): They patch things up pretty quickly as I'm kind of wondering if Nala is getting the same treatment from her parents.
(An image of a cave is shown as NC is heard acting out a skit involving Nala and her father)
NC (vo; as Nala's father, sounding angry): What do you mean you almost got our future king killed?! (as Nala) I bet Simba's father is talking nice to him... (Nala's father roars, causing Nala to scream)
(Back to the current scene)
Simba: Dad? We're pals, right?
Simba: And we'll always be together, right?
(We are suddenly shown the later scene of Mufasa falling to his death and Simba screaming "No!", before we suddenly cut to the film's title with "Hakuna Matata" playing in the background)
NC: (smiling) Sorry. Old habits die hard.
NC (vo): He tells Simba that if they ever part, he can find the kings of the past in the sky. I mean, not literally, but... (We are shown the later scene of Simba seeing Mufasa's ghost in the clouds) Oh, okay, literally! Not sure how he knew that, but whatever.
(Meanwhile, at the Elephant Graveyard, the three hyenas are met by their leader, Scar, revealing it was he who sent the hyenas to kill Simba and Nala earlier)
NC (vo): But it looks like Scar is angry that the hyenas didn't kill off the young prince.
Shenzi: I just hear that name and I shudder.
Shenzi: (shivers) Ooh! (Smiles) Do it again.
Shenzi: (shivers) Ooh!
Banzai: Mufasa, Mufasa, Mufasa!
(Ed laughs hysterically)
NC: You know, if these were Whoopi's co-hosts on The View, it'd be such a better show. (An image of Whoopi Goldberg hosting The View is shown, with all the other hosts' heads being replaced by Photoshopped images of hyenas)
(Scar begins plotting with the hyenas his newest plan, set to the song "Be Prepared")
NC (vo): Thus, we partake in, I'm just gonna say it, the best damn song in the movie.
Scar: (singing) Be prepared!
NC (vo): Hell with "Can't Wait to Be King", screw "Can You Feel the Love Tonight", piss on "Hakuna Matata"! This is the song I listen to over and over on the soundtrack. It's just an epic villain song, even despite Irons Rex Harrison-ing the entire number by talking through it.
Scar: (singing) Be prepared for sensational news.
(An image of CoverGirl is shown on the bottom of Scar as he sings the line)
NC: Yeah, why don't we have Jim Cummings do the rest?
NC (vo): Actually, no joke. Legendary voice actor Jim Cummings sings the last third of the song because apparently, Irons couldn't hit the final notes. But Cummings is such a master that for years, nobody could tell the difference.
(Two moments of the song are shown to illustrate which actor is singing)
Scar (Irons): (singing) And injustice deliciously squared...
Scar (Cummings): (singing) Be prepared for the murkiest scam!
NC: Next, you'll be telling me he did the same thing for Christopher Lloyd...
(An image of Rasputin from Anastasia is shown with the caption "He did")
NC (vo): That dude's not human!
(At one point in the song, a large army of hyenas appear and begin marching in a straight line as Scar watches from a clifftop)
Hyenas: (singing) It's great that we'll soon be connected, with a king who'll be all time adored.
NC: You see, kids, what we're trying to get across is, hyenas are Nazis. (Beat) I don't know why we're trying to get that across...
(As NC speaks, we are shown images of Mufasa and Sarabi's respective voice actors, James Earl Jones and Madge Sinclair, and Simba's two portrayers, Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Matthew Broderick)
NC (vo): ...but in a movie where two of the blackest people you can find give birth to two of the whitest people you can find...
NC: ...it's best not to question things.
(We cut to the final shot of the song)
Scar and the hyenas: (singing) Be prepared!
NC (vo): Yep. Even years later, this song is still damn awesome.
NC: Just slap "Iron Maiden" on the album cover and we'll be good. (The image of the final shot of "Be Prepared" is shown with the caption "Iron Maiden")
(We go to a commercial. When we come back, we see Scar activating his plan, luring Simba into a gorge and leaving him there)
NC (vo): So Scar lures Simba into a canyon where he says he has a surprise waiting for him.
Simba: Will I like the surprise?
Scar: Simba, it's to die for.
NC: (as Simba) Seen it. (The poster for the film To Die For is shown) Underrated.
(As Simba practices his roar, eventually scaring away a lizard, unknown to him, Scar activates the next part of his plan by having the hyenas drive a large herd of wildebeest into a stampede straight towards Simba)
NC (vo): Simba works on his roar, thinking he started a stampede, when really, it was the hyenas. And aside from the intro and "Be Prepared", this is the main reason to see this on the big screen. The music, the shots, the animation, the adrenaline, I still get chills watching it. It's an amazing scene.
(Simba hangs on for dear life on a tree branch as the stampede continues to rampage. One wildebeest runs into the branch, making it crack and causing Simba to scream. Mufasa arrives along with Zazu and Scar, and he runs into the gorge, desperate to save his son)
NC (vo; as Mufasa): Damn it, son. This time, your punishment won't be talking stars, it'll be black holes. I'm talking real Stephen Hawking shit!
Zazu: (panicking in front of Scar) I'll go back for help! That's what I'll do! I'll go back...!
(Annoyed, Scar swats Zazu into a wall, knocking him unconscious)
NC: Funny how Zazu can make jokes flattened under a rhinoceros, yet a light slap knocks him out.
NC (vo; as Zazu): Tell the Flintstones I'm still suing! (An image of the Dictabird from The Flintstones (1994) is shown)
(Mufasa manages to save Simba, but battling through the oncoming wildebeests has left him hurt. In desperation, Mufasa tries to escape the stampede by climbing up another ledge, where Scar is standing)
NC (vo): Mufasa saves Simba, and I blame bad parenting for what you're about to see here, because when you name one kid "Mufasa" meaning "king" and the other kid "Scar" meaning "Scar", aren't you just begging for something like this to happen?
(Scar latches onto Mufasa's paws with his claws, and holds him up close enough for Scar to say his final words to him)
Scar: Long live the king.
NC: (as Mufasa) Why, thank you. I think I do a good job myself...
(Scar immediately throws Mufasa back towards the stampede, and Mufasa falls screaming to his death as NC does the screaming himself)
NC (vo): After the dust clears, Simba goes down to see what he can find.
(After the stampede ends, Simba searches for his father in the dust-filled gorge)
(One lone wildebeest runs past Simba, also running past Mufasa lying dead near a tree)
NC (vo; as the lone wildebeest): Hey, kid, can you give me directions? I'm so lost. Eh, never mind. By the way, your father's dead.
NC: Okay, so another parent dies in a Disney film. Big deal. It's actually...comical how many times this happens. (We're shown a quick series of images of various Disney animated films including Bambi, Finding Nemo, The Fox and the Hound, Frozen, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Brother Bear and Cinderella) But the one thing that separates this from the other Disney films, they show the body.
(Mufasa's dead body is shown)
NC (vo): That is hardcore! Granted, it's a very clean-looking body for having been trampled to death...oh, wait. (A green arrow points to one of Mufasa's whiskers, which is bent) There's a bent whisker. No open casket for him.
NC: (snickers) Sorry. Even for me, that's really dark.
(A shocked and sad Simba approaches his father's body)
NC (vo): But regardless, this is a tough scene to get through. And as much as we like to make fun of the whole JTT craze that was going on at the time, (An image of a magazine focusing on Jonathan Taylor Thomas is shown) he acts this perfect.
Simba: (trying to wake up his father) Dad? We gotta go home.
NC (vo): It's built up well, it's animated perfect, it doesn't cop out on the harsh stuff. It delivers the exact emotion they want you to feel, to a point where when Scar shows up...
NC: ...it was hard not to hear an entire theater of kids go...
(An audience of kids is heard booing. As Simba grieves over his father's body, Scar approaches him)
NC (vo; as Simba): Oh, hey, Scar. Where's that surprise you were talking about?
Scar: The king is dead.
NC (vo): Scar, rather than just kill him, convinces him that he is to blame, and even throws in this weird line.
Scar: Oh, what will your mother think?
NC: (confused) You're grounded. (Shrugs)
Scar: Run away and never return.
(Simba does as he's told, unaware that Scar has sent the hyenas to chase after him to finish him off)
NC (vo): Scar tells him to run away and sends the hyenas after him to finish the job.
(As the hyenas chase Simba, he escapes by diving off a cliff and straight into a large bush of thorns)
NC (vo): Yeah, not cutting to any pretty birds like you did with Bambi after his parent died, no, no. Your uncle who you thought loved you is sending his evil minions to rip you to shreds!
NC: The moral of this story is, SHIT, SHIT, SHIT, SHIT, SHIT!!
(Simba moves past the thorny bush and escapes into the sun, as the hyenas, unable to follow him, vow that if he ever comes back, they'll kill him)
NC (vo): He Brer Rabbits his way to freedom, as the hyenas tell him to never return.
(Back at Pride Rock, Scar tells the whole pride that Mufasa and Simba both died in the stampede and makes himself the new king)
Scar: Mufasa's death is a terrible tragedy. But to lose Simba, it is a deep, personal loss.
NC: (as Scar) But at least the antelope have grass to eat.
(Zazu is shown among the mourning lions)
NC (vo; as Zazu): Hey, Scar, I was meaning to ask about when you knocked me out earlier. Super-suspicious...oh, everything's looking up. Never mind.
Scar: ...a great and glorious future!
(Scar stands proudly on the top of Pride Rock as dozens of hyenas slowly approach. Meanwhile, in the desert, Simba collapses from heat exhaustion, and his body is noticed by a meerkat and warthog duo named Timon and Pumbaa)
NC (vo): Simba is woken by the fat guy and little guy you never see in comedy named Timon and Pumbaa, played by Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella, who decide to take him in.
Pumbaa: Maybe he'll be on our side.
Timon: Ha! That's the stupidest thing I ever heard. (Suddenly gets an idea) Hey, I got it. What if he's on our side?
(A clip from Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century is shown)
Duck Dodgers (Daffy Duck): Hey, I think I've got it. I'll just bet that if we follow those planets, we'll find Planet X.
NC: So, yeah...I'm not a big fan of these guys.
(Several clips focusing on Timon and Pumbaa are shown)
NC (vo): I mean, don't get me wrong. They're not awful, they're acted fine, and the routines are harmless.
NC: I just...never found them that funny.
NC (vo): I mean, granted, I've yet to hear any food puns in this movie. Have they done food puns? I can't remember?
(A montage of various clips of Timon and Pumbaa is shown)
Timon: (after eating a grub) Tastes like chicken.
Pumbaa: (to Simba) Kid, what's eating you?
Timon: Nothing. He's at the top of the food chain! (Cut to a scene of him holding another grub) Ooh! The little creme-filled kind.
(Cut to a later scene of Timon, Pumbaa, and a now-grown Simba looking at the stars)
Pumbaa: I ate like a pig.
NC (vo): The irony is, they would eventually get their own TV spin-off, and where those are usually death to television, they were actually much funnier there than they are in the movie. It almost never works that way.
NC: But honestly, I could probably deal with them better if it wasn't for...
(We cut to the sequence of Timon and Pumbaa showing Simba their carefree life in the jungle with their song, "Hakuna Matata")
Timon and Pumbaa: (singing) Hakuna Matata!
(Hearing that song causes NC to place his hands on his face and start crying loudly)
NC (vo): Yeah, you thought "Let It Go" was bad? For friggin' years, everybody was singing this tune. "Let It Go" at least was decent and then ruined by being overplayed. This shit was annoying from Day 1 and got only more annoying with every replay! Every time I wanted to listen to "Be Prepared" on the soundtrack, I was always outvoted by my friends with "Hakuna Bite-My-Goddamn-Tata"!
NC: You know that one Christmas jingle that gets under your skin? Everybody has that one. Well, imagine it didn't just play around Christmas time, it played all friggin' year round!
NC (vo): But everybody loved it because... (One moment of the song shows Pumbaa revealing his farting problem as NC acts like a comedic man child) "Oh, look! Farts! Farts! The pig is farting! It's funny, because he almost said "fart", but he didn't quite say "fart"! A Disney song has farts in it! It's amazing! Butt stinkiness is gold! Hakuna Matata! Hakuna Matata! Fart, fart, farts! Ha-ha-ha!"
NC: (finally snapping) GO TO HELL, "HAKUNA MATATA"!
NC (vo): Go to ear-stabbing, flatulence-loving Hell! (The caption "Hell" appears with an explosion) HELL!!!
NC: (sighs in relief and becomes calm again) I'm sorry. I know I went overboard there, but I really had to let out some steam of that annoying song being overplayed. At least I know there isn't any more annoyance in our near future.
(An adult Simba is shown for the first time, enjoying his life in the jungle with Timon and Pumbaa)
NC (vo): So Simba grows up into Matthew Broderick...
(Upon saying that name, NC immediately bangs his head on his desk. We go back to the scene of Timon, Pumbaa, and Simba looking up at the stars)
NC (vo): ...who spends years gazing up at the stars ever wondering what they are.
Pumbaa: I always thought they were balls of gas burning billions of miles away.
Timon: Pumbaa, with you, everything's gas.
NC: Well, at least food puns have been replaced with fart jokes. (The caption "Upgrade?" is shown as a confused NC gives a weak thumbs up)
Simba: Somebody once told me that the great kings of the past are up there.
(Upon hearing that, Timon and Pumbaa burst out laughing)
NC: (as Timon) I tell you, if you got actual laughs like that when you did The Producers, I'd...I'd return your calls.
(One day, Pumbaa is suddenly stalked and chased by a lioness, who is actually a grown-up Nala)
NC (vo): They come across a grown-up Nala, who hunts them down.
(Simba arrives to rescue Timon and Pumbaa and starts fighting Nala)
Timon: (patting on Pumbaa's butt, as Pumbaa struggles to get free from a tree branch) Don't worry, buddy, I'm here for you. Everything's gonna be okay.
NC: (looking uneasy at the shot of Timon patting Pumbaa's butt) Again, not sure if I need this. (The censor bar is added onto the scene) Eh, it's Timon and Pumbaa. I definitely need this.
(Nala eventually wins the fight by flipping and pinning Simba to the ground; this causes Simba to recognize her)
NC (vo): Simba recognizes Nala, though, and they scream for joy, having not seen each other for years.
Nala: Wait till everyone finds out you've been here all this time. And your mother...what will she think?
NC: Is that just weird writing or the world's like, "Oddest running joke"?
Nala: You're the king.
Timon: You're the king, and you never told us?
NC: He's one of three male lions... (Images of Simba, Scar and Mufasa are shown. The image of Mufasa immediately vanishes) ...two male lions! How could you not figure this out?!
NC (vo): So after only knowing each other as kids and being reunited for three minutes...
NC: ...cue that love song! You've earned it!
(The fifth and last song of the film, "Can You Feel the Love Tonight", plays, showing Simba and Nala rebonding and exploring around the jungle)
Kristie Edwards: (singing) Can you feel the love tonight?
NC: No, I can't! Like I said, you've only known each other as kids and reunited for three minutes!
(One part of the song shows Timon and Pumbaa's frustration and saddened reaction to Simba and Nala falling in love)
NC (vo): I think the most romantic part of the song is when Timon and Pumbaa are singing it! I at least believe their chemistry!
(After the song ends, Simba and Nala continue to walk around the jungle, but their conversation soon moves towards the fact that Scar has taken over the Pride Lands and has left them in ruin, and that only Simba, the rightful king, can fix everything)
Nala: We've really needed you at home.
Simba: No one needs me.
NC (vo): Nala insists that Simba returns home and takes responsibility.
Simba: (angry) You think you can just show up and tell me how to live my life?
NC (vo; as Simba): You don't understand. My podcast is gonna make me rich, man. Rich!
Nala: Everything's destroyed. There's no food, no water. Simba, if you don't do something soon, everyone will starve.
NC: (as Nala) Although, in hindsight, I guess I could just bring them here, with plant life, water, food. You keep bumming it. I'll be right back. (Begins to leave the room)
Nala: What wouldn't I understand?
Simba: No, no, no. It doesn't matter. Hakuna Matata.
Nala: (confused) What?
NC: The face of every parent when they first heard that word. (The image of Nala's confused face is shown)
(Still feeling guilty for his father's death, Simba refuses to return and storms off. At a grassy field, he encounters Rafiki)
NC (vo): They have a big fight as Simba storms off, coming across Rafiki.
Rafiki: (singing) Asante sana, squash banana!
Simba: (groans) Enough already! What is that supposed to mean, anyway?
NC (vo; as Rafiki): It means "Benson was cancelled too early! 10-year run would have been perfect!"
Rafiki: You're Mufasa's boy.
NC (vo): He reveals that he knows Simba's father and takes him to where he can be found.
(Rafiki leads Simba through a jungle, eventually stopping at a reflecting pool)
Rafiki: Look down there.
NC (vo; as Rafiki): It's a shit I took an hour ago. I'm very proud of it.
(The ghost of Mufasa appears in the night sky to speak with Simba)
NC (vo): Simba's father appears in the sky to help him find his way.
Mufasa: You are my son, and the one true king. Remember who you are.
NC: Yes, yes. Very touching, emotional words, definitely. You did leave out three important words, though. (Clears his throat and speaks loudly) Scar killed me!
NC (vo): And this is, honestly, my biggest problem with the movie. You see, shortly after, we get this message, and by Disney standards, it's actually a very unique one. Rafiki whacks him on the head and tells him that the pain doesn't matter because it's in the past.
Simba: Yeah, but it still hurts.
Rafiki: Yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it, or learn from it.
(He swings at Simba's head with his stick, but Simba dodges it this time)
NC: From a studio that nine out of 10 times, the message is "follow your dreams, listen to your heart, wishes can come true..."
NC (vo): ...this one is saying...
NC: "Shit happens! You gonna cry about it? You gonna run away like a little pansy? Do something! Buck up! Soldier on, you little bastard!"
(Realizing he can no longer run from his past, Simba finally decides to return home)
NC (vo): It's so rare we get a moral like that from Disney, and it's a valuable one I think is really important.
NC: But, here's the problem.
(Simba returns back to the ruined Pride Lands, aided by Nala, Timon and Pumbaa. While Timon and Pumbaa distract the hyenas, Simba confronts Scar at Pride Rock in front of Nala, Sarabi, the pride of lionessesses and Scar's hyena army. However, the manipulative Scar immediately gets the upper hand in the confrontation by taunting Simba over his role in Mufasa's death and forcing him to admit it, much to the shock of Sarabi and Nala. After that, Scar continues to taunt Simba and corners him at the edge of Pride Rock)
NC (vo): He goes back to Pride Rock, we get a little comedy here and there, but ultimately, he confronts his past, takes responsibility, and it blows up in his face. He admits to accidentally killing Mufasa, and nobody is behind him. No one even stops Scar as he backs Simba over a cliff, they just let him do it.
(Scar pushes Simba to the cliff's edge, as Simba falls and hangs on for dear life as lightning strikes)
NC: (as Nala) I mean, I'm not gonna help you, I'm just gonna shout your name. Uh...Simba! (Beat) What would your mother think?
(Scar's arrogance soon gets to him, as, in another attempt to destroy Simba, he whispers to him the truth that he killed Mufasa. Upon hearing this, Simba pins Scar to the ground and forces him to admit the truth to everyone. A fierce battle then starts, with the lionesses fighting against the hyenas)
NC (vo): It's only when Scar whispers that he killed Mufasa and Simba forces him to confess that suddenly, everybody's on his side.
NC: So, just to make it clear, no matter what mistakes you made in the past, you should always go back and take responsibility for it. (Beat) Because there's a chance maybe you didn't do it. (Beat) However, if you know you did it, like 100% it was you, run like hell!
NC (vo): Don't ever take responsibility! Your friends will turn on you! They'll dangle you over a cliff! God will strike lightning to remind you of the fiery pits of Hell that await you! Run! Run! Nobody's got your back!
NC: I'm sorry. This is a huge disservice to the message. Hell, the most popular song in the movie is about dodging your responsibilities! (We are shown a brief clip of the "Hakuna Matata" scene) This is kind of messed up when you really think about it!
Scar: (from earlier in the film) I'm surrounded by idiots.
(We are shown more clips of the final battle, mostly focusing on Timon, Pumbaa and Rafiki's efforts in fighting the hyenas)
NC (vo): After that, it follows the typical Disney climax. A giant fight happens, mostly with a comedic lean to offset the mano y mano fight that's soon to follow.
(At a cave, Shenzi and Banzai corner Timon and Zazu, until they are confronted by Pumbaa)
Banzai: Who's the pig?
Timon: Uh-oh, they called him a pig.
Pumbaa: Are you talking to me?
Timon: Shouldn't have done that.
Pumbaa: They call me Mr. Pig!
(Confused, NC grabs a remote and rewinds to the scene of Simba, Timon and Pumbaa looking up at the stars)
Simba: Pumbaa, you are a pig.
Pumbaa: Oh. Right.
(Then NC replays the current scene)
Timon: Uh-oh, they called him a pig.
Pumbaa: They call me Mr. Pig!
NC: (shrugs) I guess any excuse to use In the Heat of the Night references. (Beat) The kids love that.
(As fire rages around Pride Rock, Simba corners Scar up the very top)
NC (vo): Simba corners Scar, as he tries to weasel his way out of it.
Scar: It's the hyenas who are the real enemy. (Unknown to Scar, in the background, Shenzi, Banzai and Ed have heard Scar's words. Growling in anger, they leave) It was their fault, it was their idea.
NC: (as Scar) Come on, Simba. Don't believe the fake news!
NC (vo): Simba lets him go, but only on one condition.
Simba: Run. Run away, Scar, and never return.
NC: That line was a lot cooler when Irons said it.
NC (vo): Even Scar looks kind of unimpressed.
NC (vo; as Scar): Yeah, I had a dead dad under my belt when I said that. Do you have a bug buffet? I think I own this one.
(Scar is about to leave, but then suddenly turns and attacks Simba once more. The two lions fight viciously)
NC (vo): Scar tricks him, though, leading to one of the coolest shots in the movie.
(A roaring Scar leaps through the flames to kill Simba)
NC: (impressed) God, I wanna see that on a T-shirt that says, "I love you this much!" (The image of the roaring Scar is shown with the caption, "I love you this much!")
(As Scar is about to kill Simba, Simba quickly flips Scar over the edge of the cliff himself. Scar survives the fall, but is confronted by his entire hyena army, who all know of his earlier attempt to betray them. The hyenas surround a pleading Scar and kill him)
NC (vo): Simba flips him over the cliff, as the hyenas are angry he blamed them for everything, which...apparently is enough to warrant death.
NC: I'm honestly not that thrown off, as we get to hear Ed's evil laugh.
(Cut to an earlier moment of Scar's death; when Shenzi and Banzai ask Ed what they should do, Ed laughs sinisterly instead of hysterically and licks his chops)
NC: You could literally give him a spin-off show of nothing but him laughing, and I'd be okay.
(As the rain falls, Simba climbs to the top of Pride Rock and lets out a magnificent roar, finally accepting his destiny as king of the Pride Lands. Under Simba's rule, the entire Pride Lands is restored to its former glory)
NC (vo): Simba takes his rightful place on the throne...which brings all the animals and plant life back...
NC: What were the politics of their regimes?
(The final scene shows Simba, Nala, Timon and Pumbaa on the top of Pride Rock as many animals celebrate the birth of Simba and Nala's newborn cub)
NC (vo): ...as they celebrate the birth of their bouncing baby sequel.
(Rafiki lifts Simba and Nala's newborn cub to the assembled animals, continuing the circle of life)
NC (vo; as a random animal): Oh, by the way, did we mention Scar might've had a son and another kid was born first...? (Images of Kovu from The Lion King II: Simba's Pride and Kion from The Lion Guard are shown. The title is shown again, ending the film) Never mind.
NC: So, there it is, The Lion King, a massively impressive yet far from flawless movie.
(Footage of the film plays once more as NC gives his final thoughts)
NC (vo): The humor’s kind of hit-and-miss, at times, it can be a bit annoying, and, yeah, the playout of the message bothered me a lot as a kid, and still bothers me as an adult. But most people, if you ask what the message is, still say it’s to take responsibility for your past. So I guess the general idea is still gotten across. But despite its issues, it’s still a massive film. The story feels big, the animation looks big, the music sounds big, it still deserves a lot of the attention it gets. At a time when Disney animators were dodging this project because they had interest in the next film that was following it… (The poster for Pocahontas is shown) and we all know how amazing that turned out…Lion King played all its cards at the right time to the right audience, so much so they’ll see the exact same thing again. (The poster of the 2019 remake is shown again) I guess that is a testament to how strong a bond it made with people, though. Whether in animation or… (A shot of Simba and Scar in the remake is shown) animation, the popularity of The Lion King isn’t fading out anytime soon. And as you can see, it’s for good reasons.
NC: Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm actually off to see the live-action Lion King remake. (The remake's poster is shown once more) The real one. (The poster for Black Panther is shown) There you go. I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don't have to. (Gets up and leaves the room)
Channel Awesome Tagline - Simba: It doesn't matter. Hakuna Matata.
Nala: (confused) What?
(The credits roll)