A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar continues the tale of the Pridelands and its ruling family, this time through the adventures of Simba's son, Kion. This movie is considerably less intense than was The Lion King, but it relies on many of the qualities that made its predecessor such a fan favorite: an excellent soundtrack, comical characters, and a realistically imperfect (but ultimately determined) young hero. There are some tense moments that show characters in peril and animals being chased by predators but nothing that will bother kids. Parents who loved The Lion King will enjoy following Kion's story as well, especially since it incorporates favorites such as Timon and Pumbaa and even features the occasional reappearance of patriarch Mufasa.
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What's the story?
THE LION GUARD: RETURN OF THE ROAR tells the story of Kion (voiced by Max Charles), the second-born cub of Simba (Rob Lowe) and Nala (Gabrielle Union), who learns he's destined to lead the new Lion Guard and protect the Pridelands. To that end, Kion assembles a team of the bravest, strongest, and keenest animals to help him defend the circle of life: Ono (Atticus Shaffer), a sharp-eyed egret; Fuli (Diamond White), a speedy cheetah; Beshte (Dusan Brown), a powerful hippo; and Bunga (Joshua Rush), a carefree but courageous honey badger. Inspired by his legendary grandfather, Mufasa (James Earl Jones), Kion steps up to this new challenge with the confidence he needs to defend his home against the scheming hyenas and others who wish to do its residents harm.
Is it any good?
Twenty years after The Lion King first took viewers to the African savannah, this endearing story carries on the legacy of the Pridelands' first family with a new cast of vibrant personalities. Kion is just as headstrong as his father was at that age, and, just like Simba, he must grow up and shoulder the responsibility that's handed to him. As he does so, he discovers new things about himself and inspires greatness in his friends. It's easy to like this indomitable cub, that's for sure.
Your kids need not be up to speed on Simba's full story to settle into Kion's, and this movie is less intense than the original and thus more appropriate for a younger audience. That said, it does harken back to The Lion King on many occasions, even giving some background on one mysterious figure whose full story was never told. This makes it a great pick for parents and kids to watch together, since the older generation will better appreciate the mix of old favorites Timon (Kevin Schon), Pumbaa (Ernie Sabella), and Rafiki (Khary Payton) with the new cast.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how well Kion lives up to his responsibilities. How does he protect his homeland and its residents? Did he choose the right partners for his cause? Why doesn't Simba agree with his methods?
Is it as easy to spot danger in the real world as it is for Kion in the Pridelands? Kids: What are some of your biggest fears? Do you ever hear things on the news that worry you?
How do Kion and his Lion Guard pals prove that it's not what's on the outside but what's on the inside that counts? Do any of them surprise you in their capabilities? Have you ever underestimated someone only to be surprised by what he or she could do?
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