Comedy also takes a hit in the remake directed by Jon Favreau. While the humor in the animated film felt timeless (on rewatching it, I find myself laughing at the same jokes today as I did 20 years ago), the jokes in this release feel forced. Some moments, like when the hyenas bicker about personal space, are clearly designed to elicit laughs, but at my showing at least, the audience seemed to be chuckling out of a sense of obligation.
The characters, for the most part, aren’t overshadowed by the film’s star-studded cast, which includes Donald Glover (Simba), Keegan-Michael Key (Kamari), Seth Rogen (Pumbaa) and Billy Eichner (Timon). We’re still able to see characters like Simba as separate from the actors who voice them, and it’s thankfully just as easy to become absorbed in the playful antics of Timon and Pumbaa (with the added touch of Rogen’s signature laugh, of course). James Earl Jones, who lends his voice to Mufasa once again, is as commanding and powerful as in the original film, maintaining our understanding and admiration for his character.