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Western Animation / The King and I

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A very loose Animated Adaptation of Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical released on March 19, 1999 by Warner Bros. Family Entertainment and animated by Pentamedia Graphics and Rich Animation Studios, in association with none other than Rankin/Bass Productions. The looseness of the adaptation includes such additions as a magical illusion-creating gong, dragons, an Ethnic Scrappy, evil statues, and a monkey. The result was unrecognizable enough that the estates of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein have refused to allow any of their other musicals to be made into animated films.

The King and I contains examples of:

  • 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: The dancing Buddha statues in "A Puzzlement", and all the ships. Also, the rickshaws and hot air balloons.
  • Adaptational Context Change:
    • One of the film's most infamous scenes is its depiction of "I Whistle A Happy Tune". In the original musical and its other adaptations, Anna sings the song to Louis when they first arrive in Siam, encouraging him not to be afraid about coming to a new country and meeting its intimidating King. In this version, Anna, Louis and the sailors on the ship sing the song, with the original lyrics completely unchanged, to scare away a magical sea dragon attacking their ship.
    • In the musical, Mongkut - on his deathbed - names Chulalongkorn the new King of Siam, and succumbs to his illness immediately after. A similar scene is included in this adaptation, except that Mongkut is merely injured after his hot air balloon crash, and he only temporarily passes his royal duties to Chulalongkorn until he recovers, which he does.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Though still commented on, the King's temper and his insistence on following tradition is downplayed in this adaptation, allowing him to be more easily redeemed. While he does still come close to flogging Tuptim, he is much more remorseful after deciding against it, then goes out of his way to rescue her and Chulalongkorn in the climax.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Kralahome is an Evil Sorcerer who schemes to steal the King's throne. In the play, while stern, he is loyal to the king and not an outright villain.
  • Arranged Marriage: The King plans to invoke an old tradition of choosing his son's future wife, unaware that Chulalongkorn wants to marry Tuptim.
  • Asian Buck Teeth: Master Little has these, oddly for a movie that came out in 1999.
  • Badass Arm-Fold: Anna and the King on the movie cover, as pictured above.
  • Blatant Lies: Anna tells the King she is 150 years old, then claims to have been born in the 18th century. This was likely because she was offended at being asked her age (as she hints at during the scene), but it’s still a weird moment.
  • Butt-Monkey: Master Little, Kralahome's Minion with an F in Evil.
  • Canon Foreigner: Master Little again, along with most of the accompanying animal sidekicks.
  • Composite Character: The crown prince in this version is a composite of the original Prince Chulalongkorn, who was a perceptive child, and Lun Tha, who was the love interest of Tuptim. The animated Prince Chulalongkorn is a young adult and falls in love with Tuptim himself.
  • Dancing with Myself: During “Shall We Dance”, Anna dances with the ghost of her dead husband, who it’s hinted no one else can see (and who she may just be imagining).
  • Denser and Wackier: The original musical, and most other adaptations of it, is completely grounded in a realistic setting, in part due to being loosely inspired by the true story of Anna Leonowens and her time in Siam. This version explicitly adds magic, dragons, animal sidekicks and various other fantasy elements, and the tone is much more lighthearted and comedic.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: The King's response when Anna calls the barbaric claims against him a lie.
    The King: A FALSE lie!
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • Throughout the film, Kralahome plots to convince Anna that the King is a ruthless barbarian, hoping that she would then prompt Sir Edward to come and depose him. However, Kralahome's various schemes usually involve directly putting Anna herself in life-threatening danger, such as summoning a dragon to attack her ship before she's even arrived, despite the fact that her death would be directly counterintuitive to his plans.
    • In the climax, Kralahome goes up into the guard tower and locks the gate behind him, in order to prevent anyone from following or interfering as he sends fireworks to shoot down the King's balloon. It doesn't occur to him that this locked gate was also his only escape route, as he is quickly cornered by Sir Edward's men and arrested without a struggle.
    The Nostalgia Critic: (singing to the tune of "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch") "You lack focus, Kralahome! You need some Adderall!"
  • Disney Death: In the climax, the Kralahome shoots down the King's hot air balloon, and everyone but the King manages to jump out to safety. The family mourn him after finding his body in the wreckage, but he turns out to be alive.
  • Disneyfication: All adult elements are glossed over to make them kid-friendly; add some fun monkeys and we're good to go!
  • Dramatic Necklace Removal: Done by the King to Tuptim. Prince Chulalongkorn made the mistake of giving her his necklace, which has a medallion featuring the royal symbol, as a token of affection for her. When the villains find out, Kralahome waits until the banquet to point out that the Prince isn't wearing it, and from there exposes his romance with the slave girl to bring out the worst in the King.
  • Dream Sequence: For "I Have Dreamed", naturally enough.
  • Easily Forgiven: After having watched the King very nearly whip a young woman to death in a fit of rage, Sir Edward was quick to overlook this while watching the King save said woman and his son from afar, calling him a "good fellow" when just an hour earlier he was ready to dethrone him for the earlier offense.
  • Empathy Pet: The King's panther, and Louis' pet monkey Moonshee.
  • Everybody Lives: The ending, even after the king crashes his hot air balloon.
  • Evil Chancellor: Kralahome, apparently.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Also, Kralahome.
  • Exhausted Eye Bags: Anna sports these.
  • Expy: The movie's depiction of Kralahome is basically as Jafar's eastern Asian cousin.
  • Gratuitous Animal Sidekick: Almost every major character has one. Louis has a monkey, the King a high-fiving panther, the king's children a cat and Tuptim an elephant.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Kralahome once again! The Nostalgia Critic, in his parody Grinch lyrics, even said "Thank God the person this is based on is dead and he has no estate to sue you, because if they could, they probably would."
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Kralahome probably should not have locked himself in the tower leading to the rockets he uses in attempting to kill the King.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Kralahome accuses three guards of snooping when in fact, that's what he was doing just before they arrived.
  • Just Ignore It: Just whistle a happy tune. The magical sea monster will go away. Granted, the monster in question is purely illusionary, so this makes sense.
  • Large Ham:
    • Kralahome.
    • The King, though his antics come off as more like those of a spoiled man-child.
  • Mind over Matter: Somehow Kralahome has the ability to transform matter through a Magic Mirror.
  • Mr. Fanservice: The King's son is pretty cute, and he's shirtless when they introduce him.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: Despite his alleged menace, Kralahome does none of his own fighting through the film save for his attempt to shoot down the King's hot air balloon in the climax; his sorcery is also easily thwarted by the most unlikely of inconveniences in his various attempts to kill the King. Also, he had no exit strategy for taking over Siam when his treachery finally became clear to the heroes and is easily cornered by his enemies before he's even able to attempt any sort of takeover or getaway.
  • Oral Fixation: Master Little has a weird obsession with his teeth, constantly brushing and flossing. (He's based on a jester of that name [Nai Lek] that Anna described in her book. A skilled juggler and pain-in-the-ass practical joker, he was ugly as sin, but his best feature was his prominent teeth.)
  • Rope Bridge: One has to be crossed in the climax.
  • Royal Harem: Downplayed compared to the stage version, since Anna doesn’t explicitly denounce the King for being a polygamist. However, multiple wives still appear (but only one of them gets any dialogue). The harem itself is the site of a humorous misunderstanding involving Anna’s “exotic” hoop skirt confusing the other women.
  • Running Gag: Master Little losing all of his teeth right down to the last molar, and being hit with mangoes; mostly no thanks to the monkey.
  • Secret Relationship: Prince Chulalongkorn and Tuptim fall in love, but are forced to keep their relationship a secret because of their social status until they are eventually outed by Kralahome in his plot to rule the kingdom for himself.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: The King's illness as depicted in the original play is Adapted Out. The scene where Anna and his children mourn him is still included, when he's presumed dead after his hot air balloon crashes, but he turns out to be okay.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight:
    • The sailors in the opening are remarkably casual about seeing a magical sea dragon appear out of thin air to attack their ship.
    • While Mongkut is singing his rendition of "A Puzzlement", Kralahome summons the giant statues in the room to come to life and attack him. While his pet panther manages to hold them off, it seems Mongkut either doesn't notice them, or is simply too wrapped up in his inner thoughts to care.
  • Verbal Tic: An odd one with Mongkut repeating random words three times in a word like an owl. "Who-who-who?" "WHAT-WHAT-WHAT?"
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Even moreso than the stage and live-action versions, considering how much is changed.