Simba thought his dad was King of Narnia and is a bit disappointed.

THE LION KING (2019)

The Abridged Script

Abridgers' Note: As much as Steph and Jess would like to take credit for the "Recycle It Live" lyric, we must thank Mr. Alex W. for contributing that one. He says he doesn't want a writing credit, but TOUGH TITTIES ALEX, you're getting one anyway.

FADE IN:

EXT. PLANET EARTH II

Our two hour nature documentary STORY is introduced by an ICONIC VOICE...

SIR DAVID ATTENBOROUGH (VO)

The sun rises over the Pride Lands, same as always, and everyone heads over to Pride Rock. The animals, once young, vibrant, and carefree, have grown old and semi-bitter. The elephant jumps in his fuel-efficient yet reasonably priced sedan and heads to work, forgetting that he has the morning off, for today the Royals are presenting their new baby. The rhino, grumpy and callous, complains that those royal motherfuckers can't give them universal healthcare, but sure, they'll wake up at the ass crack of dawn for this. The gazelle wonders why they don't just post a baby pic on Instagram, because that shit would totes go viral. A zebra approaches and reminds all of them that the royals are lions and they only gave birth to one cub, and maybe they should be a little sensitive. The guinea fowl reminds the zebra that it's hard to afford more than one cub nowadays anyway. The cheetah gives a despondent sigh, and realizes things ain't what they were 25 years ago.

(pause)

Despite all this, there is one thing they could all agree on.

ONCE-YOUNG ANIMALS

DON'T THEY DARE FUCK UP THE OPENING NUMBER.

SIR DAVID ATTENBOROUGH (VO)

And, to our great surprise, they did not.

ONCE-YOUNG ANIMALS

(to tune of "Circle of Life")

From the day that we learned of this remake

We feared they'd make one stupid move

To change the theme

That's the best of their themes

That's the song you can never improve!

There's lots of shit we can handle

Lots of tweaks to which we're fully numb

But we know we'll crack

If they altered this track

And, oh, thank God

They were not that dumb!

They recycled it live!

Yes, they spared the song!

Unlike "Friend Like Me"!

Unlike "Gaston"!

Sure, it's down from here

Down a path declining

But at least they

Recycled this live!

EXT. PRIDE ROCK - LATER

EVIL LION CHIWETEL EJIOFOR is confronted by HORNBILL JOHN OLIVER.

JOHN OLIVER

Hear ye! Your brother, the king, is on his way. Get ready for a royal ripping of a new asshole!

CHIWETEL EJIOFOR

You know, photorealism is nice and everything, but neither of us look cute. At least the cartoon Zazu kind of looked like Rowan Atkinson. This animation makes you look like an awkward, British, bird-faced... oh wait.

KING JAMES EARL MOTHERFUCKIN' JONES arrives.

JAMES EARL JONES

Sheesh, this is how they animated Scar? He looks so sad and grimy.

CHIWETEL EJIOFOR

Hey, it worked for Shere Khan. So, they invited you back, did they?

JAMES EARL JONES

Duh. I was way too good as Mufasa. Name one person who gave as good of a performance as me.

CHIWETEL EJIOFOR

Whoopi Goldberg, Cheech Marin, Jeremy Irons-

JAMES EARL JONES

Okay okay I get it. Speaking of invites, you missed the ceremonial dangling of an infant over a hundred foot cliff. A blatant sign of disrespect.

CHIWETEL EJIOFOR

Yeah yeah yeah, I hate your son for standing in the way of me being king, same as before. Can we go now? We've got to rush through these scenes while still somehow making this movie a half-hour longer than the original.

INT. THE PRIDE LANDS - A FEW YEARS LATER. AND WHEN WE SAY "YEARS" WE MEAN LION YEARS...LIKE, HOWEVER MUCH TIME PASSES FOR A CUB TO BE PLAYED BY A 12-YEAR-OLD.

JAMES takes his son JD MCCRARY out and shows him the PRIDE LANDS.

JAMES EARL JONES

So JD, here is the beautiful scene where we bond as father and son, where I teach you about the circle of life, and... I'm sorry, are you listening? It's hard to tell.

JD MCCRARY

Like you're any better?

JAMES EARL JONES

Sadly, I am not. As I was saying, one day you will be king, and all of this will be yours. Isn't it great that you'll never have to work a day in your life and get handed everything anyway?

JD MCCRARY

Sure is! Let's beat up John for absolutely no reason at all!

ANIMALS FROM BEFORE

(living paycheck to paycheck)

(not beating up their assistants)

Fuck these royals, man.

JAMES gets called away to do KING SHIT. JD talks to his UNCLE CHIWETEL, who convinces JD to go BEYOND THE BORDERS with his friend SHAHADI WRIGHT JOSEPH. An unaware JOHN follows.

JD MCCRARY

Man, I can't wait to be king!

SHAHADI WRIGHT JOSEPH

That's nice... but all I hear is "I can't wait for my Dad to die!"

JOHN OLIVER

Young master, you're a bit too excited if you ask me. If only you brought some of that excitement to your singing. Even Jonathan Taylor Thomas got someone else to cover the musical numbers for him.

JD MCCRARY

Screw that chump! I've got a Radio Disney career to build!

(to tune of "I Just Can't Wait to Be King")

You need an eager, impish kid

To play this lion prince!

JOHN OLIVER

But he sounds so clear and polished

He'd make Ariana wince!

JD MCCRARY

I'd kill if I auditioned

For X Factor or The Voice!

But that's not what this role's about

Was I the perfect choice?

JOHN OLIVER

What an odd new vocal casting strategy!

JD MCCRARY

No, I just can't match JTT!

The ENTIRE CAST comes out and begins building a CGI ANIMAL PYRAMID.

SHAHADI WRIGHT JOSEPH

When you've got a big song

You can't sing it halfway!

I'm the one who gets that!

I've been on Broadway!

NOT THEM!

ENTIRE CAST

What we lack in heart

We make up in finesse!

Such exuberance and joy we don't possess!

How fitting for this hollow, pointless mess!

CHIWETEL EJIOFOR

No, I just can't match Jeremy!

JOHN OLIVER

No, I just can't match Mr. Bean!

JD MCCRARY

No, I just can't maaaaatch... JTT!

EXT. GRAVEYARD

The kids lose JOHN and end up in front of HYENAS FLORENCE KASUMBA, KEEGAN-MICHAEL KEY, and ERIC ANDRE.

JD MCCRARY

Damn, I forgot how doofy-looking hyenas are in real life.

FLORENCE KASUMBA

Well well well. Two sprightly young cubs in a voice actors' graveyard.

KEEGAN-MICHAEL KEY

That's right, it's where great voice acting comes to die. We can't exactly give lively performances, or the animation will look even more half-assed.

ERIC ANDRE

That's why we sound like we all drank a Xanax-Nyquil smoothie.

JD MCCRARY

Well, not me! And I'm gonna prove myself as a big, brave-

(runs for his life!)

The hyenas ATTACK but JOHN swoops in and holds them off. Then JAMES jumps in and DEMOLISHES SOME ASS with his VOCAL CHORDS ALONE. JD gets a relatively tame PUNISHMENT, like most RICH KIDS.

CHIWETEL EJIOFOR

You idiots! You couldn't fight off two lion cubs and a fucking bird?

FLORENCE KASUMBA

It was James! That voice... he's 88 years old and... it's just as strong as ever!

CHIWETEL EJIOFOR

Not for long... Cue the music!!

KEEGAN-MICHAEL KEY

Um, there is none. We forgot to mention, this is also a music graveyard.

CHIWETEL EJIOFOR

I'm surrounded by idiots.

(to tune of "Be Prepared", sort of)

"Be Prepared" was a song for a villain!

"Be Prepared" was deliciously grim!

A sinister rally

For James Earl's finale!

A king's execution!

A final solution!

A dark, crazy ride

Through my planned regicide

That tells everyone

"Don't fuck with him!"

And this half-muttered, short "Be Prepared"

CAN'T COMPAAAAAAARE!

EXT. THE GORGE

CHIWETEL takes JD down to the gorge and the HYENAS create the STAMPEDE.

JD MCCRARY

(running through wildebeests)

Uh, guys, CAN WE AT LEAST TURN THIS SONG UP?! This is "...To Die For," one of the best movie scores of the Disney Renaissance! How are we totally blowing this?

The rest of the MOST HEARTBREAKING, SOUL CRUSHING SCENE FROM YOUR CHILDHOOD happens and SOME OF US are STILL REELING FROM DUMBO and JESUS CHRIST WHAT IS THIS, THE YEAR OF SAD REMAKES? WHAT'S NEXT, BAMBI? E.T.? HOW ABOUT THE NEVERENDING STORY, HUH? SURE, I'D LOVE TO WATCH ARTAX DIE AGAIN.

EXT. SOMEWHERE ELSE

SIR DAVID ATTENBOROUGH (VO)

After the traumatic experience in the gorge, the young cub runs away and wanders across the Sahara Desert. But as we all know, that shit's only a mile long, so he's, like, totally fine. Then, two figures emerge from the great weed smoke clouds of the Serengeti...

BILLY EICHNER

HI, YOU LOOK LIKE YOU'RE MINDING YOUR OWN BUSINESS. MIND IF I STICK A MICROPHONE IN YOUR FACE AND ASK YOU STUPID TRIVIA SHIT? GREAT! I'M HERE WITH SETH ROGEN!

SETH ROGEN

Huehuehuehuehue

(deep, throaty inhale)

JD MCCRARY

Who are you guys?

SETH ROGEN

We're the funny and endearing vagabonds! Have you visited that shaman mandrill? He's got some bomb-ass weed.

BILLY EICHNER

So what's your story, kid?

JD MCCRARY

Well, I'm horribly depressed over my father's death, and I'm racked with guilt because my own uncle told me it was my fault and convinced me to run away. I also realize that I'll never see my mother again, whom I didn't even say goodbye to.

BILLY EICHNER

At least you've still got that adorable cat smile on your face!

SETH ROGEN

Let's sing everyone's favorite song about why you should forget all your troubles! Ready?

BILLY EICHNER/SETH ROGEN

(to tune of "Hakuna Matata")

Hakuna maana!

What is life all about?

Hakuna maana!

Only waste and doubt!

It means "no meaning"!

Years you're just waiting out!

How did we achieve

This anomie?

Hakuna maana!

JD MCCRARY

Wait, what the hell is this?

BILLY EICHNER

Oh, didn't you know? We're nihilists now! "No worries" is so 20th century.

SETH ROGEN

That's right. Life is not a circle, it's a straight line with a beginning and an end. Nobody exists on purpose, nobody belongs anywhere, everybody's gonna die, come watch TV. Wubba lubba dub dub, bitches!

JD MCCRARY

This is a kids' movie, right?

EXT. THAT HAKUNA MATATA PART OF AFRICA

A few UNDEFINED CAT YEARS later, JD has grown up to be DONALD GLOVER, enjoying the GOOD LIFE with BILLY and SETH.

SETH ROGEN

...so as I was saying, Destiny's Child was great and all, but if you want my unpopular opinion, Michelle was the most talented of the group--AAAAAAHHHH!!!

He is CHASED and almost MAULED by none other than...

BILLY EICHNER

OH MY GOD IT'S HER! EVERYONE BOW DOWN IMMEDIATELY! IT'S BEYONCÉ!!!

BEYONCÉ KNOWLES-CARTER

Excuse me, when I'm an actress it's Beyoncé Knowles-Carter. And sorry about before, Seth. But if I didn't try to kill you, surely my fan base would have.

DONALD GLOVER

What are you doing here?

BEYONCÉ KNOWLES-CARTER

I escaped your uncle's authoritarian rule in search for help!

DONALD GLOVER

No, I meant what are you doing in this movie? Your vocals are way too big for these songs, and to be honest, your presence in this role is downright distracting.

SETH ROGEN

Uhhh, do you hear that noise? That's the sound of every Beyhive in the land buzzing with anger. I'd stop talking if I were you.

BEYONCÉ KNOWLES-CARTER

Anyway, I'm so happy to see you! Okay let's fall in love now.

DONALD GLOVER

Wait, shouldn't we like, talk a bit more and get reacquainted before we do the love part?

BEYONCÉ KNOWLES-CARTER

Hahaha no, we have to make room for my new song! That's way more important than "pathos" or "pacing."

They fall in LOVE... we think.

AUDIENCE

(to tune of "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?")

We don't feel a fucking thing!

Emotions don't shine through!

Who would have thought

With real-life animals

The story seems less true?

No, we don't feel a fucking thing

We felt in '94!

These creatures move

So unexpressively

They leave us just plain bored!

BILLY EICHNER

Yes, we got gypped; no love tonight

No horny cat foreplay

And, worse, they sung this melody...

BILLY EICHNER/SETH ROGEN

In the fucking daaaaaayyy!

BEYONCÉ KNOWLES-CARTER

Now that we've covered that, let's get back to Pride Rock and throw your crazy uncle in an old folks' home or something, eh?

DONALD GLOVER

Nah, Chiwetel is the rightful king. Plus, I'd rather stay here in my boho-chic, musical-loving, insect-consuming life!

BEYONCÉ KNOWLES-CARTER

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? First of all, Billy and Seth should be reported to the ASPCA for raising a carnivore as a vegetarian. In fact, you should be dead right now. Second, Chiwetel is a tyrant! He's starving everyone you love, including your own mother!

DONALD GLOVER

You don't need me. You think what? I'm gonna walk out with my razor claws and face down the whole Hyena Order? What did you think was going to happen here? You think that I came to the most unfindable place in Africa for no reason at all? Go away.

BEYONCÉ KNOWLES-CARTER

If you ever see your mother again, I hope she whoops your ass.

(leaves)

Then, MANDRILL JOHN KANI approaches.

DONALD GLOVER

Hmm, I hear something. A faint echo of a beloved character full of personality and wisdom... but I guess it was just the "Sex"-spelling leaves in the wind.

JOHN KANI

Donald, your alive! Do you want to know how I knew that? It's a great story. A tuft of lion fur blew all the way across Africa, was swallowed by a giraffe, shit out, and carried up to my tree by ants. I took one look at it and said, "Yep, that's Donald alright!"

DONALD GLOVER

Uh-HUH. Go smoke another one, bro.

JOHN KANI

Also, I know your father, I can show you! And you don't have to swallow a flower to see him!

DONALD GLOVER

Right... I'm gonna go now...

CLOUD JAMES EARL JONES

(appearing)

Donald...

DONALD GLOVER

Father?

CLOUD JAMES EARL JONES

You have forgotten who you are, and so, forgotten me.

DONALD GLOVER

I'm sorry, am I supposed to be seeing Mufasa in cloud formation? All I'm seeing is lightning strikes and what looks like Rafiki's tree drawing of Simba.

CLOUD JAMES EARL JONES

I... um... whatever. Look, you must take your place in the circle of life.

DONALD GLOVER

And you tell me this now? Why couldn't you have told me this after your death? Or when I was eating bugs?

CLOUD JAMES EARL JONES

Uh... you... must remember who you are...

DONALD GLOVER

Did you ever cloud-visit your wife aka my mother and the rest of the pride and tell them what really happened?

CLOUD JAMES EARL JONES

You know what, fuck this. Just get back home, dumbass!

EXT. PRIDE ROCK

The GANG makes their way to the BARREN WASTELAND that is PRIDE ROCK. There, CHIWETEL talks to DONALD'S mother, ALFRE WOODARD.

ALFRE WOODARD

Welp, there's no food, you've destroyed the place, and I haven't seen lower approval ratings since Thomas J. Whitmore. I thought you had the brains in the family?

CHIWETEL EJIOFOR

I do! It's just a shame you chose my dumb jock brother over me in high school! Doesn't matter, I never wanted a dumb Stacey like you anyway. This is what you get for riding the cock carousel, now deal with the consequences!

ALFRE WOODARD

Wait. You wanted to rule Pride Rock because... you're an incel? This is just plain ridiculous.

DONALD appears!

DONALD GLOVER

Not so fast, you socially inept troll!

ALFRE WOODARD

JD! Donald! Is that really you?

DONALD GLOVER

Yes, mother, it's me. I ran away without any explanation, spent years with two people who convinced me to never atone for anything because nothing matters anyway, then dismissed the one I love when she came for help. But I'm back now!

ALFRE WOODARD

That's great, son. Do what you gotta do. Because afterwards, I am gonna whoop your ass.

The battle begins! DONALD fights CHIWETEL! JOHN, SETH, and BILLY come in and kick some butt! BEYONCÉ and ALL THE SINGLE LIONS defeat the hyenas with FABULOUS CHOREOGRAPHY!

CHIWETEL EJIOFOR

You will not win, Donald! I’m sexually frustrated, therefore, you will all suffer with me!!

DONALD GLOVER

Did you know, during her receptive period, the female lion can mate up to 100 times per day? If you can’t get laid, MAYBE IT’S YOU!!!

In the end, CHIWETEL proves to be his OWN WORST EMENY by BLABBING to LITERALLY EVERYONE that he killed JAMES. The HYENAS turn on CHIWETEL, and rip him to SHREDS.

SIR DAVID ATTENBOROUGH (VO)

Yes, as you probably already know, the elder lion finally meets his end once the hyenas realize they've been played by that bum-ass bitch. The other lion takes his rightful place as king, and all the other animals return back to the Apple screen saver from whence they came. Elsewhere, VFX artists, who didn't have nearly enough time to animate the animals' faces fully die a little inside, as their corporate overlords reap the benefits as usual. And that is the circle of not-quite-live-action remakes.

ENTIRE CAST

(to tune of "Circle of Life (reprise)")

Hey, who needs new scripts?

Who needs new ideas?

Just recycle

Recycle it live!

Recycle it... LIIIIIIIVE!

END

This script was made possible thanks to the support of Patrons like [email protected].

If you'd like to support the site, please check out our Patreon page where pledging can earn you access to an ad-free version of the site, early access to scripts, exclusive scripts, and other cool shit.


Discussion