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Western Animation / Leo the Lion

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"I'm a vegetarian!"

Apparently made by an Italian film company named Dujass Film in 2004 to 2006 (the exact date of the film's creation differ according to sources), and originally titled La storia di Leo, it was dubbed into English in 2013 and distributed onto Netflix by The Weinstein Company. It's also interesting to note that the subtitles for the movie appear to use a different script, like they used a literal translation of the original Italian film while the spoken audio is a localization.

It follows the story of Leo, a lion who happens to be a vegetarian. Within the first five minutes, his mother falls to her death while pursuing a zebra, this leads to his fear of water. Before she dies, she tells Leo to search out "The Heart of the Jungle". Ostracized and bullied by his fellow lions, he runs away from the plains to the jungle. During that time, he makes friends with an elderly antelope named Uncle Lope, who is also the movie's narrator.

One day he meets an elephant named Savannah who happens to be heavily pregnant. She tells Leo about her missing husband (named "Eli Phant") who went missing when poachers came to the jungle and supposedly kidnapped him. Uncle Lope then adds that he was actually killed by another elephant named Maximus (voiced by Matthew Mercer), who wants to marry Savannah himself and become King of the Jungle. Leo stays with Savannah after she gives birth to twins (who are connected via their tails). Savannah then sends Leo to find the Elephant doctor. A fire breaks out and Leo gets the idea to take the elephant twins to the Heart of the Jungle where they should be safe. Along the way they're accompanied by various other animals like a zebra foal, a leopard cub and a monkey.

Not to be confused with Kimba the White Lion's main character, who is called "Leo" in Japanese. Or the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer mascot. Or the 1994 Direct to Video Leo the Lion: King of the Jungle.

Leo the Lion has examples of the following tropes:

  • All-CGI Cartoon
  • All of the Other Reindeer: It doesn't really amount to much in the long scheme of things, but Leo was (naturally) ostracized by other lions over his vegetarianism.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: The turtle Leo encounters sounds a lot like a stereotypical Jewish Mother.
  • Animals Lack Attributes: The mother zebra averts this by having mammaries. However, they're in the wrong place.
  • Artistic License Biology:
    • The first moments of the film shows that Leo's pride has five male lions in it.
    • Similarly, Savannah had an elephant husband, and Maximus, another male elephant, plans to marry her. Male elephants don't stick with female elephants. They enter the herd once to mate with a female, then leave afterwards.
    • A lion cannot choose to be a vegetarian as lions are obligate carnivores. Though, considering how emaciated Leo looks, he certainly doesn't seem to be thriving on that diet.
    • Due to the way embryos are formed, it is impossible for animals to be connected via their tails.
    • Elephants don't nurse on their sides like dogs and they don't nurse that low on their bodies. They actually have breasts surprisingly reminiscent of those found on humans, located between their front legs.
      • Similarly, while zebras DO nurse low on their bodies, they don't have nipples on their stomach like cats or dogs, but rather an udder between the hind legs.
    • Savannah's children are referred to as cubs. The proper term for baby elephants is calves.
    • Crocodiles don't have their teeth hidden inside their mouths like lizards.
    • It pretty much goes without saying that Leo and Savannah's lion/elephant hybrid offspring seen at the end of the film would not be possible in real life.
    • Spots is said to be a cheetah, but she and her mother more closely resemble leopards.
  • Babies Ever After: The ending shows that Leo married Savannah and had a couple of kids with her.
  • Big Bad: The main villain of the film is an elephant named Maximus who wants to be King of the Jungle.
  • Butt-Monkey: The poor cheetah cub who seems to be the little monkey's favorite target for his pranks.
  • Cats Hate Water: Leo has a fear of water, which he loses once he gets to the Heart of the Jungle. Justified, as his mother died in a waterfall when he was a cub.
  • Conjoined Twins: Savannah's calves are connected by the tails. At the end of the movie, this connection gets undone by magic.
  • Cruel Elephant: Maximus is thoroughly wicked and the rest of the elephants, while they more or less come through in the climax, are shallow, stupid, and useless.
  • Disney Death: Uncle Lope gets seemingly killed by Maximus, complete with a flashback montage to drive the point home. However, it doesn't last, thanks to the chameleon; given her uncanny shapeshifting abilities, actual magic was likely involved.
  • Dub Name Change:
    • Maximus' original name is "Zanco" in the Italian version. The Mexican dub kept his original name however.
    • Also, in the original Italian dub Savannah is named Avoria
  • Elephant Graveyard: At one point, Maximus ends up getting lost in one.
  • First-Person Peripheral Narrator: The movie has two: Leo's friend, Uncle Lope, and an older Leo.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The fact that story is partially (see above) told by an older Leo tells the audience that he will survive the dangers his younger self faces throughout the main story.
  • Heinous Hyena: Leo and company get attacked by a group of hyenas who have Mexican accents and speak in rhyme.
  • Hollywood Chameleons: The chameleon at the Heart of the Jungle, who can not only change colors on a whim, but even seems to have the ability to shape-shift (she turns her head into those of Leo's and Uncle Lope's on two separate occasions).
  • Honorable Elephant: Played straight in the case of Savannah, her lost husband, and their children, but averted on the whole.
  • Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action: Leo and Savannah. Lion-elephant babies. Yeah.
  • Informed Species: Spots and her mother look more like leopards than cheetahs.
  • Instant Sedation: Towards the end of the film, where a bombardment of tranquilizer darts drops Maximus immediately. Earlier in the film, he gets hit with one that apparently takes about eight hours to go into effect.
  • Interspecies Romance:
    • It's hinted in the movie that Leo (a lion) has an attraction to Savannah (an elephant). This is confirmed at the end of the movie, when they have children together.
    • Uncle Lope shows hints of being attracted to the shaman, a chameleon.
  • Jewish Mother: The Turtle Leo encounters talks like this.
  • Large Ham: Maximus Elephante steals the show in every scene he's in with Matthew Mercer's bombastic performance.
  • Light Is Not Good: Maximus is a literal white elephant and a violent, merciless individual.
  • A Lizard Named "Liz": An Elephant named Eli Phant.
  • Mischief-Making Monkey: One of the baby animals who accompany Leo, Uncle Lope, the baby elephants and the cheetah cub in their journey is a young orphaned monkey. He constantly enjoys playing nasty pranks on the cheetah cub, but is ultimately a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: Leo and Savannah have lion-elephant kids at the end.
  • Motor Mouth: The turtle Leo encounters after his fall can talk very quickly.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: When the group come across a log bridge over a ravine, a pair of crocodiles lurk in the river at the bottom, hoping for them to fall off.
  • Older Sidekick: Uncle Lope to Leo.
  • Patchwork Kids: Leo and Savannah hook up and the Framing Device shows Uncle Lope telling the story to their kids, who sport vaguely elephantine bodies with some lion features.
  • Pregnancy Does Not Work That Way: Savanna's calves are connected by the tail. This can't happen in real life due to the way animal embryos are formed.
  • Punny Name: A few, such as Eli Phant and (less obviously) Uncle Lope.
  • Really Dead Montage: Subverted. After Uncle Lope is seemingly killed by Maximus, there's a montage of significant moments involving him... but he turns out to have just been knocked out.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: The hyenas who attack Leo and his friends speak in rhyme.
  • Rotten Rock & Roll: Big Bad Maximus is heavily associated with rock music. He has an electric guitar leitmotif and his Villain Song is distinctly rock.
  • Shot in the Ass: Maximus takes a tranquilizer dart to his hindquarters at one point.
  • Shout-Out: Maximus has a Villain Song about wanting to rule over the other animals, including a bit where (in an Imagine Spot) he stands on a rocky precipice looking down at his marching minions. It comes off as very reminiscent of "Be Prepared".
  • Snakes Are Sinister: Averted with the pythons that appear throughout the film.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: Savannah's calves by Eli. Though he may not actually be dead.
  • Tagalong Kid: Whith the sole exception of Savannah's baby elephants, the zebra foal, the cheetah cub and the little monkey who accompany Leo and Uncle Lope on their journey don't really add much to the plot.
  • Talking Animal: Naturally, for the children's movie with animal protagonists. The English dub makes them a little more human by having them make references to things that wild animals shouldn't know about or have access to like iced coffee with soy milk or deodorant.
  • Three-Month-Old Newborn: The babies can speak in full sentences right after they're born.
  • Uncertain Doom: It's unclear whether Eli Phant was captured by poachers or almost captured by poachers and then killed by Maximus. According to Uncle Lope, the latter is true, though most of the other characters believe the former.
  • Vegetarian Carnivore: Leo is a vegetarian lion, and even sings about it a few times. He looks emaciated. . . which is pretty much how a vegetarian lion would actually look.
  • Villain Song: Maximus gets one, which clearly takes some cues from "Be Prepared".
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: The cheetah cub and the baby monkey. The little cheetah is constantly annoyed by the pranks the monkey plays on him and even threatens to eat him a few times if he doesn't stop. However, both are ultimately good friends and, since both are orphaned babies, they get to stay on the fabled Lake of Milk until they grow up.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: The chameleon in the Heart of the Jungle seems to have outright shapeshifting abilities, since she changes her head to resemble that of another character twice.