Disney's CGI remake of The Lion King contains a very cringeworthy Beauty and the Beast reference that not only takes viewers out of the film but feels entirely out of place considering what else is happening at the time. Following up his critically acclaimed and commercially successful live-action adaptation of The Jungle Book, director Jon Favreau took it upon himself to do a CGI remake (using live-action filming techniques, hence why it's referred to as a live-action remake) of The Lion King, one of the highest-grossing and most beloved Disney animated films ever made.
Coming out 25 years after the original animated film hit theaters, The Lion King remake is almost a frame-by-frame recreation of the story, but with certain updates parsed throughout - to the story, comedy, and music. A significant portion of these updates is played through dialogue and the conversations that some of the characters have with each other. There are also key differences between the animated and CGI films, such as how Scar kills Mufasa. But then there's the Beauty and the Beast reference.
In the animated Lion King movie, Timon and Pumbaa are tasked with creating a diversion so that Simba and Nala can get past them. This is when Timon does the hula and presents Pumbaa as a cooked pig, luau style. But 2019's The Lion King remake changes that scene. Instead of Timon doing a hula dance, he stands on top of Pumbaa and recites the beginning of Beauty and the Beast's iconic song, "Be Our Guest", in which the candlestick Lumière presents Belle's dinner to her.
Beauty and the Beast was one of the more recent Disney live-action remakes, so it makes sense that either Favreau or the studio would throw in a reference to it, especially since the movie wrapped production long before films like Aladdin and Dumbo released. But the thing is, it feels like more of a pat on the back for Disney and a reminder of what they're doing than a proper reference. And this isn't the first time that something like this has happened. Recently, Disney snuck in a reference to A Wrinkle in Time in Avengers: Endgame. That was also quite strange.
Overall, the Beauty and the Beast reference is meant to generate applause and laughter from longtime Disney fans and those who've recently seen the 2017 live-action remake from Bill Condon. But the Lion King remake incorporates this reference at a cost to its story and pacing. Given how quintessential the Lion King property is to Disney, the remake needed to justify its modern updates and changes - and this Beauty and the Beast reference wasn't worth the alteration.
- The Lion King (2019) release date: Jul 19, 2019