A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Leo the Lion is a 2013 computer-animated movie about a kind young vegetarian lion who is verbally bullied by fellow lions for not eating meet and who "adopts" two baby elephants and must protect them from predators as well as an evil "alpha elephant." Aside from the inescapable fact that lions are obligate carnivores and therefore could not be vegetarians even if they wanted to be, this is a horrible Pixar rip-off with terrible songs, annoying voices, subpar animation, and a poorly executed story line. Parents looking for a movie that shows vegetarians in a positive light should look elsewhere, and everyone else should avoid this movie simply because it is so insufferable. Leo's mother dies within the first five minutes by drowning in a river that leads to a waterfall while in pursuit of a zebra. Leo is often the target of bullying lions -- as well as other animals in the jungle -- because he is a vegetarian. Also, as a vegetarian, Leo looks sickly -- his ribs stick out as if he is undernourished. There is really nothing worthwhile about this movie.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Leo the Lion (Daniel Amerman) is a vegetarian and is therefore shunned, bullied, and ridiculed not only by his fellow lions but also by many other species in the jungle. But he does have some friends, including an elephant mother who has just given birth to two babies. While the evil Maximus Elephante plots to become king of the elephants and the jungle as a whole, the baby elephants believe that Leo is their father. Leo must take these elephants, along with a monkey, a cheetah, and a zebra, home to their mother, but along the way, they must avoid human poachers and jungle predators such as hyenas and vultures.
Is it any good?
This movie is so insufferably bad that it seems reasonable to suspect that the meat industry bankrolled it in the hopes of turning off anyone who might be considering becoming a vegetarian. The animation is subpar at best, the voices are annoying, the songs painful are to listen to, and even the pro-vegetarian message is confusing -- apparently Leo is a vegetarian because he is nice and, according to the song at the movie's end, he prefers cheese, ice cream sundaes, and bananas to, say, zebra meat.
Which raises the most glaring problem with this movie. Lions are obligate carnivores. Even if they were capable of choosing a wedge of provolone cheese to the prey they chase, kill, and eat in their natural habitat, they must eat meat to obtain the nutrients they need to survive. Furthermore, they're incapable of digesting any meal-size portions of vegetables. With so many omnivores and herbivores in the world, why would a lion -- a lion who looks underfed with its ribs sticking out -- be chosen to be the torchbearer of a vegetarian lifestyle? This inaccuracy alone undercuts any pro-vegetarian message this movie might convey, but even if a viewer could go that far to suspend disbelief, this is still a shoddy and just plain bad movie.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about vegetarianism. What are some reasons not to eat meat? Do you know any vegetarians?
What are some of the messages this movie attempts to convey? Do you think the movie makes its point? Why, or why not?
What are some of the ways in which this movie attempts to copy Pixar movies?
If you could remake this movie, how would you improve it?
- On DVD or streaming: January 1, 2013
- Cast: Cole Sand, Daniel Amerman, Eileen Galindo
- Director: Mario Cambi
- Studio: The Weinstein Company
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs, Music and Sing-Along
- Run time: 77 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: November 15, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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