The Lion King (1994)

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
The Lion King (1994) Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Musical king-of-the-beasts blockbuster is powerful, scary.
  • G
  • 1994
  • 89 minutes

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 90 reviews

Kids say

age 6+
Based on 204 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Stands out for positive messages.

Educational Value

This isn't an educational film, but it does provide many lessons about family and responsibility.

Positive Messages

The Lion King focuses on the idea of family, love, and sacrifice. Mufasa's willingness to save Simba exhibits unconditional love. As Simba grows up, he comes to understand that he has a responsibility to his father's kingdom to take his place. 

Positive Role Models

Simba learns to face his problems and how to be a good leader. He demonstrates courage, perseverance, and humility. His parents are selfless and loving. Some have remarked that the hyenas' characterization brings some negative stereotypes to mind.

Violence & Scariness

There are some seriously scary scenes and bloody fights between animals. In one harrowing sequence, a father lion is trampled to death by a stampede of wildebeest after saving his cub. That parental death is a pivotal point in the movie, and it haunts the son throughout the second half of the film. Another lion is responsible for his brother's death and later tries to get rid of his nephew. A group of hyenas terrorizes two cubs and eventually acts as a scavenger army. A character is killed by hyenas, but viewers don't see the actual murder.

Sexy Stuff

Flirting between Simba and Nala, who are eventual mates.


While there's no consumerism in the movie itself, this is one of Disney's biggest blockbusters and has myriad merchandise tie-ins, including video games, toys, straight-to-DVD sequels and even a Broadway musical.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Lion King is considered one of Disney's greatest animated musicals, but it does have some scary moments. The most disturbing violence is the death of Simba's father, Mufasa, by a stampede of wildebeests. The bloodthirsty hyenas, who scavenge for food and threaten Simba and his friends, are also frightening. But despite a few sad sequences and a few evil characters, the overall message is one of hope, love, and family responsibility. Note: The movie was rereleased in 3D in 2011, which added to the intensity of the more frightening scenes.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 5-year-old Written byzelita October 8, 2009

Good for adults and 9 year olds

In general, Disney movies disguise adult contents and themes, dressing them up in children like characters. Read all the Adult reviews in this section and proof... Continue reading
Adult Written byNic S. January 23, 2020

Violent, With murder in it!

I just wanted to put it out there that this movie is highly overlooked as far as violence goes. I went to see this in theaters as a kid and it upset me a lot! T... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written bydisneylove September 17, 2015

One of the very best Disney films. Period.

This classic has stood the test of time. Recently passing its 20th anniversary, I decided to give it a re-watch. Boy, was my time used wisely. From the iconic o... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old June 4, 2014

Be prepared, for an epic movie.

I am afraid your kid would not want to watch this because of no humans, but give them some time to get interested in watching it. Most kids get interested in wa... Continue reading

What's the story?

THE LION KING is the story of Simba (voiced by Jonathan Taylor Thomas as a child and Matthew Broderick as an adult), the cub of Mufasa (James Earl Jones), the king of the jungle. Simba "just can't wait to be king." But his evil Uncle Scar (Jeremy Irons), bitterly jealous of Mufasa, wants to be king, so he arranges for Mufasa to be killed in a stampede and makes Simba think he's responsible. Simba runs away and finds friends in Pumbaa the warthog (Ernie Sabella) and Timon the meerkat (Nathan Lane), who advise him that the best philosophy is "hakuna matata" (no worries). Simba grows up thinking that he has escaped his past, but his childhood friend Nala finds him and tells him that, under Scar's leadership, the tribe has suffered badly.

Is it any good?

One of Disney's biggest hits, this excellent film has echoes of Shakespeare, bringing to mind the plots of both Richard III and Hamlet. The Lion King was not just a movie but a marketing phenomenon: This blockbuster was the highest grossing film of 1994. Of course kids won't know -- or care -- about that; they'll just be enthralled by the memorable songs and great characters.

The scene in which cub Simba's father, Mufasa, is trampled to death, is both sad and genuinely scary. And some of the fights between animals later in the movie can be frightening as well. But the lesson Simba learns -- that you have to stand up to your problems instead of running away from them -- is a solid one.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about facing your problems instead of running from them as Simba does in The Lion King. Why doesn't the idea of "hakuna matata" or "no worries" always work? Can anyone get through life without a little worry and conflict?

  • Talk about the violence and scariness in this movie. What was the most disturbing part? How would the movie be different without the intense moments? How did music and other factors contribute to the intense scenes?

  • How do the characters in The Lion King demonstrate courage, perseverance, and humility? Why are these important character strengths?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love Disney and musicals

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Themes & Topics

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