Everybody knows that The Lion King is the greatest animated Disney movie of all time. (Unless you’re part of the excusable minority that favors Aladdin.) Not only is it stacked with top-notch celebrities (ever notice those hyenas kinda sound like Whoopi Goldberg and Cheech Marin? They are), soundtracked by Elton John and Hans Zimmer (went on to score The Dark Knight and Inception), and somehow perfectly balanced between dark and ridiculous, but, oh yeah, it’s also Hamlet. Most noteworthy, though, is its impressive range of wonderfully written characters… so naturally I’ve compiled a top-five list that I expect to be universally lauded as objective and true. From the bottom:
#5: The groundhog who informs Zazu of “news from the underground”
This guy comes out of NOWHERE. Making just a three-second cameo, the unnamed informant leaves viewers pining for more of his spontaneity and unflinching competence.
This is why I got into cinema. Every pack of hyenas needs that one halfwit (nowit?) to ruin their diabolical strategies. I commend the Lion King writers and Disney for conjuring and approving, respectively, Ed into this masterpiece of family fun.
I’ll likely get a lot of flack for sneaking “Buzzkill Zazu” onto the list (as if random groundhog and Ed are going to comply) but come on, he’s hilarious. He remains haughty and dignified even under the most belittling of circumstances (example one: he’s a dumb bird; example two: he’s basically a servant). Plus… he’s British. What are you doing in Africa, bro? My curiosity for Zazu’s backstory alone earns him this distinction. So complex, so mysterious, so sassy.
(Cue readers: finally a worthy selection!) Ah, Pumba (or for the diehards, “bah-Pumba?”). I don’t think I need to say anything here. Are you talking to me? Pure comedy.
Um, duh? Rafiki is probably Disney’s greatest product, save for maybe the Genie. What’s better than being the wisest sage in the country while also acting like a complete, well, baboon (apparently he’s actually a “mandrill”)? His main gig seems to be baptizing prince lion cubs, but he’s also a valiant fighter and certainly enjoys the finer things in life. He can also make the sky talk. Just an all-around magnificent mandrill. I want what he’s smoking!
If you’ve made it this far, thank you. Your patience is admirable. Now go figure out a better use of time. Oh, and honorable mention: Simba. How often does Jonathan Taylor Thomas grow up to be Matthew Broderick? Once. That’s how often.