The Lion King

  • Review Date: August 1, 2005
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1994
  • Running Time: 89 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Musical king-of-the-beasts blockbuster is powerful, scary.
  • Review Date: August 1, 2005
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1994
  • Running Time: 89 minutes




Academy AwardGolden Globe

What parents need to know

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

The main character learns to face his problems and learns how to be a good leader. Some have remarked that the hyenas (just like the crows in Dumbo) are voiced by minority actors, bringing some negative stereotypes to mind, but on the other hand, so are Simba's parents, both of whom are portrayed as selfless and loving.

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

Chaste flirting between Simba and Nala, who are eventual mates.

Not applicable

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
Not applicable

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's 2011 theatrical rerelease is in 3D, which adds to the intensity of the more frightening scenes.

Parents say

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, The Lion King 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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about facing your problems instead of running from them. 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?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 15, 1994
DVD release date:October 4, 2011
Cast:Ernie Sabella, Jeremy Irons, Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane
Directors:Rob Minkoff, Roger Allers
Studio:Walt Disney Pictures
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Friendship, Music and sing-along, Wild animals
Run time:89 minutes
MPAA rating:G
Awards:Academy Award, Golden Globe

This review of The Lion King was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Adult Written byMamaMegan April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

An awful awful movie

I cannot understand why this movie has ever gotten positive reviews. It is horrifying and obscenely violent. The uncle's meanness, deceit, and manipulation are better suited to adult psycho-dramas than a kids movie. I deeply regret ever showing this movie to my 5 yr old. Awful.
Teen, 16 years old Written byBlueDragonMaster98 June 6, 2010


One of the best disney movies. There are mixed messages- revenge, mainly. Scar wants to rule to make things his way (since his brother was first in line), and Simba wants to kill Scar for killing his dad (but also to save the land). It will make little kids cry, and the role models aren't that great. Still, it's a must-see for disney.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 14 years old Written byMariodude23 March 25, 2010

One of the best!

I think that it is a wonderful film, certainly one of the best. The characters are endearing and enduring, the songs are absolutely magnificent, and the tough choices the main character has to go through are something that a real person would be biting their nails over! I love it, and I think everyone should see it at least once. Suitable for all ages. There is some iffy stuff, but it is downplayed. Asides from the natural violence of lions in consideration of their pride, the villain, (uncle Scar), sings a potentially frightening song to his hyena minions. But that's not what I'm worried about, kids can take almost anything, whether it be frightening, romantic, or sad so long as the movie is good and the ending is happy. Before I get on with 'the point' I just want to give you the basis for my thesis. I have have a serious depression and I watched the Fox and the Hound and I was so happily-sad that it nearly changed my life. I watched Oliver and Company just under a year ago, I felt like turning it off! It wasn't as sad as 'FatH' or Land Before Time, but it was also not as good as either of them. Now that I have shared that piece with you let me get on: 'Be Prepared' is potentially frightening, but you shouldn't be intimidated by that, but (especially if you're Jewish), you should be cautious of a certain part of the song. The scenario goes that; Scar is standing on a rock podium dictating to his minions who are doing the straight legged march! Since I'm not Jewish I can't really say, but if I was then I would be pretty scared of a Disney film that could turn a bunch of hyenas into the third Reich! Hope you found it
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages
Great role models


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Essential Apps Guide