‘The Lion King’ 2019: These 2 Characters Unexpectedly Save the Movie From Utter Mediocrity

The live-action reimagining (for lack of a better descriptor for the CGI remake) of The Lion King will be available for all to see in less than a week. However, critics have already been granted access to the movie, and the consensus is not too favorable.

'The Lion King'
‘The Lion King’ World Premiere | Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

Currently boasting a flat 60% on Rotten Tomatoes, the movie is just shy of being deemed “rotten,” and has been facing severe backlash for its lack of originality and over-emphasis on graphic prowess. The critics’ consensus is as follows:

“While it can take pride in its visual achievements, The Lion King is a by-the-numbers retelling that lacks the energy and heart that made the original so beloved–though for some fans that may just be enough.”

To put it simply, if you’re headed to the theatre to be visually stunned, the movie should not disappoint. However, if you’re hoping to be filled to the brim with that effervescent sensation the animated original conjured, you’re out of luck.

According to several critics, the movie lacks heart and – on a misguided mission to attain photo-realistic perfection – the characters suffer from zero emotive competencies. If Scar can’t raise an eyebrow in disdainful condescension, is it even The Lion King?

While The Lion King may not be living up to its expectations, two characters have been deemed near-perfect, and they (probably) are not who you would expect. While Beyoncé and Donald Glover’s vocals have been adulated, critics argue that Timon and Pumbaa make up for the film’s lack of creativity. 

Why Seth Rogen’s Pumbaa and Billy Eichner’s Timon are the best characters in ‘The Lion King’ remake

While James Earl Jones’ inspiring take on Mufasa was ever-present, albeit a little muted, such greatness on Mufasa’s behalf was expected. On the other hand, no one expected Pumbaa and Timon to become the movie’s greatest assets. The question is: why are they the exception to the rule?

While most of the characters in The Lion King fall short in terms of originality – considering its nearly a word-for-word remake – these two characters help make up for the film’s absent vision. 

Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen seem to be spit-balling quite naturally back and forth; thus, they worked to boost the film’s sense of sincerity.

If you’re going to remake a classic, you have to bring to it more than technological advancements. While The Jungle Book soared narratively and cinematically, The Lion King – too risk averse – failed to conquer the former requirement. However, Eichner and Rogen represented the risk – they were the one change that made the movie feel new again; they made the movie feel close to the heart once more. Critics Argued:

“Where the other actors are left to say nearly all the original film’s dialogue, Eichner and Rogen just seem to be naturally riffing off each other, to hilarious effect.”

Io9

“Rogen and Eichner worked so well with one another, it was like they were born to play these roles.”

Geeks of Color 

“When Pumbaa and his pal Timon the meerkat show up — I’m not going to stir up trouble by saying which one might be the other’s sidekick — we get a brisk vaudevillian double act from Rogen and Billy Eichner.”

The New York Times

While critics spent most of their word counts tearing this movie to shreds, many took a sentence or two to applaud Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen. So, if you thought Beyoncé was destined to be this movie’s savior, you were incorrect; however, she will likely still be its main ticket seller.