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Movie Review

Don't even begin to compare Warner Bros. animated musical bore with Rodgers and Hammerstein's original musical, The King and I. The plot may have similarities, but the extreme liberties taken here bury the beauty of this story in a mire of spiritual counterfeits, absurd characters and lifeless laugh lines.

A widowed Englishwoman (Anna) and her young son travel to the Orient in the late 19th century after being summoned by the King of Siam to tutor his many children. She walks right into a plot by the Prime Minister (a sorcerer) to overthrow the King. He tries to use her against the King, but to no avail. Her relationship with the King begins adversarially, but gradually improves and the two eventually fall in love.

Positive Elements: A vague message extolling the value of civility and "progress" comes through as Anna gradually convinces the King that bowing and scraping to royalty is a barbaric tradition, and executing servant girls for falling in love with princes is uncivilized. The King learns that to be a great king he must learn to be kind and compassionate. Children are taught that bravery is within them if they choose to draw upon it ("You may be as brave as you make believe that you are"). Anna teaches the children the value of respect and being nice. She sings, "Putting it my way, but nicely." Love is presented as more important than wealth or power.

Spiritual Content: The evil Prime Minister, cloned from so many other animated villains, draws his power from a large magic gong which doubles as a looking-screen (think the wicked witch in The Wizard of Oz or the Queen's mirror in Snow White) through which he spies on everyone. The film opens with him conjuring a dragon which attacks the boat bringing Anna to Siam. Anna and the crew defeat the dragon by singing "Whistle a Happy Tune" and putting up a front of bravery. Later, he summons other snakes and beasts in the jungle to frighten and chase his foes. The King makes a huge display of praying to Buddah. He bows, prostrate on the floor before a large statue of the god and insists that Anna do so as well. He then beseeches the idol to ignore the fact that Anna is "only a woman and a Christian and therefore unworthy of your interest" and act on her behalf anyway.

Sexual Content: Dancing and kissing are presented strictly in a romantic manner.

Violent Content: The film opens with an intense scene depicting Anna's boat being tossed on a stormy sea and attacked by a magical dragon. The beast breaths fire and attempts to wreck the vessel. The sport of kickboxing is shown several times. The Prime Minister's creations (huge bugs, snakes and animals) chase Anna's son and his friends through the jungle, forcing some of the them to plunge into a raging river. A hot air balloon bearing the King is shot out of the sky and crashes, almost killing him.

Crude or Profane Language: None

Drug and Alcohol Content: None

Other Negative Content: It could be argued that negative stereotypes are presented in the film, particularly in the case of Master Little, an obese, obtuse runt of a human whose teeth fall out one by one throughout the story. He speaks in an odd combination of pidgin English and broken Chinese.

Summary: Liable to scare very young children and bore older ones, The King and I fails to deliver anything close to the quality of entertainment that could have emerged from a project inspired by Rodgers and Hammerstein. Still, it's the troubling spiritual content that will alienate most Christian families.


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