First, I want to say that this is a spoiler-free The Lion King 2019parent review and The Lion King parents guide. I promise you'll get all sorts of valuable information about the film in terms of age appropriate guides and kid-friendly content, but I won't share any key parts of The Lion King plot.
In other words, this The Lion King 2019 parents guide and review is safe to read!
The Lion King 2019 parents guide will start by tackling the questions most readers want to know:
Is The Lion King 2019 kid friendly?
Is The Lion King 2019 ok for kids?
Should I take my child to see The Lion King?
I want to preface this entire article by letting you know that I'm fully honest in my parent guides and parent movie reviews. I saw movies that I shouldn't have when I was much younger, and they definitely affected me. Kid friendliness and age suitability for The Lion King (and other movies) is very important to me!
As a parent, I don't want my own kids to have movie-related anxiety, and I definitely only want them to see kid-friendly movies. I want the movie theater to be a magical, wonderful place. All of that leads to my desire to inform other parents about the age appropriate content of popular family and kids films.
The Lion King Plot Summary
Disney’s The Lion King, directed by Jon Favreau, journeys to the African savanna where a future king is born.
Simba idolizes his father, King Mufasa, and takes to heart his own royal destiny. But not everyone in the kingdom celebrates the new cub’s arrival. Scar, Mufasa’s brother—and former heir to the throne—has plans of his own.
The battle for Pride Rock is ravaged with betrayal, tragedy and drama, ultimately resulting in Simba’s exile. With help from a curious pair of newfound friends, Simba will have to figure out how to grow up and take back what is rightfully his.
Staying true to the classic story, Favreau utilizes pioneering filmmaking techniques to bring the iconic characters to the big screen in a whole new way.
Watch the trailer for The Lion King 2019 here:
Is The Lion King 2019 Kid Friendly?
If you're reading this The Lion King 2019 parents guide because you're wondering if The Lion King is kid-friendly, my answer is…maybe. I know that's not a concrete answer, but I have more information to help you make decide if it's right for your child.
First, the plot is identical to the plot of the animated The Lion King that was released in 1994. Many scenes in the 2019 version of The Lion King are also incredibly similar to the animated version, including almost all of the scarier scenes with Scar and the hyenas.
The big difference between the “new” The Lion King and the animated film is obvious, but it important. The Lion King of 2019 is visually realistic. It might be hard for kids to understand that the characters and animals aren't real in this movie.
At the same time, the scary moments and scenes aren't unnecessarily graphic or violent, and they're definitely not gory.
The Lion King Age Rating
The Lion King 2019 is rated PG. PG is for Parental Guidance – some material may not be suitable for children.
More specifically, The Lion King 2019 is rated PG for “sequences of violence and peril, and some thematic elements.” What sort of thematic elements? While the rating doesn't specify, I would guess it's the manipulative nature of the villain and the death of a parent.
But ratings are subjective, and I often have my own opinion on a movie's age appropriateness. In this case, my kids have always been sensitive, and The Lion King wouldn't be right for them at three years old, four years old or five years old.
In comparison to other movies, I would say that The Lion King 2019 is scarier than Toy Story 4 (read my Toy Story 4 parent review for all the details), and is about the same level of scariness as Zootopia. It's more peaceful than Peter Rabbit and it has more appropriate language than Incredibles 2.
What this Parent Liked About The Lion King 2019
I've loved The Lion King since the day I saw it in the movie theater with my brother and sister on opening day in 1994. I've been wishing and hoping for a new and spectacular The Lion King since I learned that a new version was in the works, because I wanted it to do justice to the original.
I would simply be so sad if my feelings for The Lion King; the plot, the music, the characters, were tainted by a lacking attempt to redo something so beloved.
I was about 40 minutes into the “new” The Lion King when I allowed myself to sigh a huge sigh of relief. This movie is incredible. It's spectacular. Jon Favreau has made a movie that's so visually stunning the beauty actually brought tears to my eyes at more than one point in the film.
Oh, and #TheLionKing is so freaking gorgeous. I've never seen a movie as visually stunning as this one.
— Marybeth: BabySavers (@BabySavers) July 11, 2019
As an amateur photographer, I have goals for what I want my pictures to look like. If I could get all my photographs lit like every sunlit scene in The Lion King 2019 I would never put my camera down.
There are scenes in The Lion King 2019 that simply glow with golden light. The lighting in this movie is perfection. It's a work of art.
On the opposite side, the unhappy scenes are positively bleak, and they're in stark contrast to the radiance of the happy scenes. I find that contrast pretty fantastic, and I loved filtering through the moods depending on the colors and lighting in the scenes.
I also loved so many of the voices of the characters.
— Marybeth: BabySavers (@BabySavers) July 11, 2019
Donald Glover and Beyonce were fantastic, which was no surprise. But Billy Eichner as Timon was the standout star of the movie. The voice, the timing and the animation all rolled up into a memorable, unique character that separated itself from the original.
Seth Rogan as Pumbaa was the perfect companion to Billy Eichner's Timon. My kids both confirmed this when I wanted to know their favorite part of The Lion King. Their answer? “All the scenes with Timon and Pumbaa.”
What this Parent Didn't Like About The Lion King 2019
I'm going to preface this by saying that I loved that this version of The Lion King 2019 almost exactly followed the scenes of the original movie. As a viewer who's familiar with the original, I knew what would happen in the elephant graveyard, and the gorge, and the return to pride rock.
While I didn't love the very realistic scary and violent scenes, I was so happy to be able to prepare myself for them because I knew exactly when they would happen.
My advice to parents would be to watch the original movie before seeing The Lion King in theaters with younger kids. Then you'll know what's coming if you want to hold a hand or pull a child onto your lap.
Should Kids See The Lion King 2019?
Obviously, this The Lion King parents guide is here to tell you that The Lion King is a family movie, and we all know that it has a PG rating. Also, nearly every feature-length Disney movie has some scary scenes and a “scary factor.”
I think The Lion King 2019 is on the scarier end of the Disney movie spectrum, but they don't define the movie. There are plenty of funny, sweet and joyous scenes within the film, and I loved them far more than I disliked the other parts.
I also know that there are lots of kids out there who can handle intense movies without a problem. I'm not able to say exactly what age should see The Lion King, but it's one of the tougher ones to make a recommendation for.
The Lion King 2019 Parents Guide Conclusion
All in all, The Lion King is beautiful, entertaining masterpiece that stays true to the original movie. Parents should know that it has scary and emotional moments that are heightened by the realistic appearance of the animals.
Despite sad scenes and villainous characters, the movie shines with the overall messages of hope, love, pride and family.
I know without a doubt that just about every adult is going to love The Lion King, but parents should use their own judgement before bringing young kids to see it.