This week Josh and I are going to deep dive into a topic we’ve covered on our old podcast, Overrated/Underrated. Our podcast is lovingly called “the show where two exes bicker pointlessly about nothing for a half hour” because, well, that’s what it is. Josh and I have individually documented what it’s like to work on this pod together on my blog, and while we’ve had our ups and downs, it’s a great project for us to do together!
I thought it might be fun to go a bit deeper into things that we enjoy and feel strongly about since our pod is only a half hour. Once a month, we’re going to pick a topic from the pod and we’re each going to post about something we’d have loved to explore further related to that topic!
This week, we’re diving deep into the 90s Disney movies (episode 17, released on February 24, 2020).
If you listened to the above podcast episode, it will come as no surprise that my deep dive is going to be about Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride. I literally went out of my way to bring my friend Esprit onto the podcast to side with me because she loves this movie, too! I’ve been waiting for months to talk about this movie on the pod as well as make Josh watch it, and I’m so excited to get the chance to write about it as well.
I would go so far as to say that this is one of my favorite Disney movies. It’s one of those movies that I played on repeat growing up and (like Tangled) brought with me to watch in different languages when I went abroad. If you have not seen it, I highly recommend watching it on Disney+ (or hijacking someone else’s login, if you don’t have your own) before reading. Sure, you can read this post without having watched it first, but my goal is to make everyone everywhere watch this movie. You don’t want to stand in the way of me reaching one of my life goals, do you?
. . .
Ah, Lion King 2. The unsung hero of the Disney universe. I am more than willing to recognize that sequels are usually garbage, but this definitely stands as an exception to the rule. While most sequels are essentially a composition of several smaller stories that hardly connect, the Lion King 2 is its own standalone movie featuring several parallels to the first one. I will admit that I probably give this movie extra credit because it is actually a decent sequel. And for Disney, that’s really not a given.
As a very short summary (seriously, go and watch the movie!), this movie is the tale of Simba’s daughter Kiara. At the very beginning of the movie, we learn that Kiara, much like young Simba, likes to get into trouble. She ventures out into the outlands, where Scar’s pride has taken up residence, and befriends Kovu, Scar’s handpicked successor. Simba drags Kiara back to the pridelands, and while he explains her princessly-duties to her, Kovu’s mother Zira realizes that her way to Simba is through Kiara. Zira then begins planning to turn Kovu into a killing machine. Jumping forward in time, we see that Kovu is ready to carry out his plan, and Kiara is going on her first hunt. Simba predictably acts like an overprotective father, pushing Kiara to hunt farther away from pride rock. Kovu’s plan is set in motion as his siblings light a fire in the field that he must save Kiara from. Kovu asks to come and live at pride rock with Simba and his pride, and Simba reluctantly and temporarily allows this, choosing to withhold his judgement because Kovu has saved his daughter. While Kovu was supposed to get Simba alone and kill him, he falls in love with Kiara, thus making him more sympathetic to Simba and not wanting to hurt the lioness he loves. Simba decides to take Kovu under his wing and takes him out for a solo walk. During this walk, the outlanders ambush Simba, making it sound as though this was Kovu’s plan. They attack Simba and Kovu’s brother is crushed to death in the tussle. Simba is able to get back to pride rock, but he will not let Kovu back in with his pride. Simba banishes Kovu, and Kiara escapes to find him. A war erupts between the prides and Kovu and Kiara go back to stop it. They are able to convince all members of both prides to make peace except for Zira, who’s rage and inability to forgive cause her downfall. Then we get our happy ending with the prides combining and Kiara and Kovu becoming the heirs to the throne.
My favorite moments (AKA Why This Movie Is Amazing)
“He Lives in You”
Like the original The Lion King, this movie begins with a song that is truly larger than life. A beautiful song about how we are all connected. And, to be honest, I like “He Lives in You” better than “The Circle of Life.”
*record scratch* Wait, what?
Yes, you read that correctly. “The Circle of Life” is a classic, and it always will be, for sure. However, I find “He Lives in You” to be far more powerful. While “The Circle of Life” feels ominous and larger-than-life, “He Lives in You” is so accessible and inspirational. “He Lives in You” talks not about the interconnectedness of all living things in an all-powerful sort of way, but our personal connectedness with our common consciousness.
“He lives in you
He lives in me
He watches over
Everything we see
Into the water
Into the truth
In your reflection
He lives in you”
“The Circle of Life” is awe-inspiring, but “He Lives in You” gives me chills.
Fratricide…but not really
Over in the outlands, Kovu, Scar’s hand-chosen successor, is being raised to kill Simba out of revenge. After falling in love with Simba’s daughter Kiara, though, Kovu decides to abandon this plan, something his mother, Zira, simply cannot accept. Zira orchestrates an ambush, framing Kovu. A chase scene ensues where Zira’s pride descends on Simba, and as Simba escapes, he knocks several logs over onto Kovu’s brother in his wake, effectively killing him. Zira turned around and expressed her rage at Kovu for killing his brother, even though he had no hand in his brother’s death. While Scar directly caused his brother’s death and got away with it for many years, Kovu did not kill his brother, but was still blamed for it. They both end up with the iconic scar across the eye, however, as Zira hauls back and scratches Kovu across the face moments later.
As Josh said on our podcast, this song very clearly points out how problematic Simba’s way of thinking is towards the outsiders, but overall, it is such a great song. When Kovu returns to pride rock seeking Simba’s forgiveness after the ambush, a very angry Simba says that he is prepared to dole out Kovu’s judgement. In what can only be described as a regal flourish, Simba says, “EXILE.” This word begins an awesome and intense song reflecting the betrayal felt by all of the pridelands when it seemed as though Kovu had deceived them. As Kovu runs away from pride rock, he is heckled by all of the different species under Simba’s reign all while they sing their disgust:
“He is not one of us
He has never been one of us
He is not part us
Not our kind.
Someone once lied to us
Now we’re not so blind.”
Would You Like Some Ice for That Buuuuuurn
When Simba banishes Kovu, Kiara tries to convince Simba to reconsider allowing him to stay. Simba refuses, citing how he must follow in his father’s pawprints. Throughout the entire movie, there are many mentions made of Mufasa. Simba is obsessed with carrying the same regal composure that Mufasa did and constantly trying to live up to the king that passed when he was young. He frequently references what Mufasa would do and tries to pass Mufasa’s wisdom onto his daughter Kiara.
During this bout of teenage frustration at Kovu being banished, Kiara deals a devastating blow by turning on Simba and yelling, “YOU WILL NEVER BE MUFASA!”
One of my favorite Disney moments of all time
It’s no secret that this movie is exposing some of the dangerous prejudices that we carry with us. Simba, assuming that all outsiders must be like Scar, refuses to believe that they can actually be good people. He allows this prejudice to fuel his decisions for most of the movie, ignoring anything he hears to the contrary. In the middle of an epic battle between the pridelanders and the outsiders, Kovu and Kiara peacefully interrupt by standing between the two prides. They stare down their own people and challenge their perspectives. Kiara, in a heartfelt plea to end the violence, looks solemnly at Simba and says:
“A wise King once told me, ‘We are one.’ I didn’t understand what he meant… now I do.”
“But… they…” Simba rebuts. And Kiara finishes with a line that gives me literal chills.
“Them… us. Look at them… they are us. What differences do you see?”
I hope that, if you haven’t seen this awesome movie yet, you are now inspired to do so! Honestly, I don’t know how I can better convince you: an awesome sequel jam-packed with intensity, great music, a cute love story, and sexy Simba. What more do you want?
If you have seen this movie, what did you think? Is there anything I missed?
Photography by my talented fiancé. You can find him on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/hope_grows_here/
You can check out previous podcast deep dives below:
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