The Lion King

Front Row at the Movies by Shirrel Rhoades

5/5 (1)

You know the plot: After the murder of his father, a young prince must learn the true meaning of responsibility and bravery.

No, no … we’re not talking about Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” We’re discussing Disney’s “The Lion King.”

You probably saw the 1994 animated musical. Perhaps you saw the Broadway production (the third longest-running musical in theatrical history). Maybe you even saw the direct-to-video spinoffs, the TV series, or played the video games.

Not getting enough blood out of the stone, Walt Disney Pictures is now bringing you a photorealistic computer-animated scene-for-scene remake – this one directed by Jon Favreau (“Iron Man,” etc.). The bringing-the-animals-alive approach is similar to the visuals that Favreau delivered for Disney with “The Jungle Book” remake.

While the animals look real (right down to every follicle of fur), they also talk. And sing.

You will recognize the voices of Donald Glover (“Solo: A Star Wars Story,” “Spider-Man: The Homecoming”) as Simba, the crown prince of the lion pride; Beyoncé (Queen Bey herself) as Nala, Simba’s childhood friend; James Earl Jones (“Star Wars,” et al.) as Mufasa, Simba’s father; Alfre Woodard (“Annabelle,” TV’s “Luke Cage”) as Sarabi, Simba’s mom; and Chiwetel Ejiofor (“12 Years a Slave,” “Dr. Strange”) as Scar, Simba’s treacherous uncle.

Just for the fun of it, listen for the voices of Seth Rogan (“The Interview,” “Steve Jobs”) as Pumbaa, a slow-witted warthog; John Oliver (TV’s “Last Week Tonight”) as Zazu, a red-billed hornbill who is the king’s majordomo; Billy Eichner (TV’s “Parks and Recreation”) as Timon, a smart-aleck meerkat; and even Chance the Rapper (“Slice”) as a mouthy bush baby.

Disney’s “The Lion King” is charming audiences at Tropic Cinema.

The film’s titular star, Donald Glover is not only known for his acting talent, he also makes music under the name of Childish Gambino (“This Is America”) and serves as a DJ using the moniker of mcDJ. He was also a writer on TV’s “30 Rock” and created the “Atlanta” TV series.

But he considers voicing “The Lion King” a career highlight. Explaining why he was excited to join the “The Lion King” cast, Glover says the project speaks to a larger purpose. “I just wanted to be a part of a global good.”

Also, there was the opportunity to impress his 3-year-old son. “My son, he loves ‘The Lion King.’ He’s a big, big fan, and of animals in general,” said Glover.

“I was like, ‘You want to go see “The Lion King”?’ You know, just to see if he might notice my voice. And he was like, ‘Oh, sure. Beyoncé’s in it, right?’ And I was like, ‘But also Daddy’s in it.’ I’m in it, too.”

His son was unimpressed … until he found out that his dad sang a duet with Beyoncé in the film, a romantic version of “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.”

Turns out, Glover and Beyoncé had to record their parts separately because he was in London filming ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ at the time.

“But don’t tell my son,” Glover adds.

Email Shirrel: srhoades@aol.com

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