Chris Hicks: ‘Lion King,’ ‘Whale Rider,’ ‘Mr. Mom’ receive Blu-ray upgrades

“The Lion King” gets a Blu-ray reissue this week, and “Mr. Mom,” “Whale Rider” and others make their Blu-ray debuts, while a couple of vintage Westerns are on DVD for the first time.

“The Lion King” (Disney, 1994, G, original and sing-along versions, audio commentary, featurettes, art galleries). Young lion cub Simba is destined to become king of the jungle after his father, Mufasa, is killed, but Simba’s evil Uncle Scar has other ideas. Taking cues from “Bambi” and “Hamlet,” this animated hit (one of the all-time biggest pre-Pixar box office blockbusters) still looks great, boasting stunning visuals. It also still seems a bit rough for its G rating and has some weaknesses, but there’s no denying the film’s entertainment value as it nicely balances drama, comedy and jaunty songs.

“Whale Rider” (Shout Select, 2002, PG-13, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes, poster/photo galleries). Keisha Castle-Hughes is utterly winning in this outstanding family film (which should be PG; the PG-13 is far too harsh for one brief drug moment). She’s a young New Zealand girl living with her traditional Maori grandparents, and she feels that she is meant to be a leader, despite the fact that women never have been allowed to take such a position. Don’t miss this one.

“Mr. Mom” (Shout Select, 1983, PG, featurette, trailer). There’s a sort of TV-movie/sitcom feel to this somewhat dated (or maybe not-so-dated) look at a housewife (Teri Garr) who goes to work when her husband (Michael Keaton) is laid off, forcing him to take over raising the children and doing the household chores. The script has some amusing contrivances but would never rise above superficiality were it not for the stars, whose chemistry and superior comic talents are palpable. Ann Jillian and Christopher Lloyd co-star, and John Hughes wrote…

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