Parents' Guide to

Mulan

By Betsy Wallace, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 5+

Disneyfied but dignified tale of Chinese warrior.

Movie G 1998 90 minutes
Mulan Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 6+

Based on 40 parent reviews

age 6+

Like Every Disney Movie, Mulan (1998) is Made for Everyone

Like most Disney movies, Mulan is layered. By this I mean, it has a storyline children can follow while also having references, jokes, and a deeper message for older audience members. Most children will likely get the basics: Girls can do anything boys can do; practice makes perfect; etc. As they get older though, they'll start to understand the deeper aspects. In middle school, they might start to understand the bath scene better--the strategically placed animation, the "couple of things I [Mushu] know[s] they're [the soldiers] bound to notice!" This is when they'll also start to understand the concept of war. As young adults, they might pick up on smart alack background dialogue from soldiers, and begin to better appreciate the gravity of the plot, and the ruthlessness of the enemy Mulan faces. They may also pick up on symbolism, like late blooming flowers and the Great Stone Dragon. Adults watching this film with their kids should be able to pick up on most, if not all, of what I just listed, making this movie just as engaging and fun for them as the kids. For families, it's fun for everyone at whatever stage they're at. For educators, the layers of this movie could make it a great introduction to concepts like main idea, theme, plot, symbolism, and cultural values.
age 6+

Too many moments are stuck in 1998

I have never been much of a fan of animating people and when animating people from a non-Western place I typically cringe at the stereotypical disasters that await. Mulan fights a lot of adversity to somehow become a skilled warrior and her shrewdness allows for her and the army to be victorious over the Huns. The Emperor and thousands of people in the Forbidden City bow to her. Whatever happened to all that patriarchy that offered the conditions in which she felt compelled to conscript herself in the army to begin with? I guess we're just gonna ignore all that...the fight scenes are strong, but this does feel a bit 1998.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (40 ):
Kids say (104 ):

Disney took a gamble on Mulan -- she doesn't fit the princess mold, and most moviegoers had never heard of her -- and the end results are a bit mixed. The songs and supporting characters aren't particularly memorable, but the settings are gorgeous, and Mulan herself is one of a kind in the Disney canon (it's too bad that in the end she still needs to be married off to a "Prince Charming" who saves the day).

Still, many aspects of Chinese culture are incorporated into Mulan -- such as reverence to one's ancestors, the significance of dragons, and the importance of honor. The DVD includes a feature that shows how the filmmakers researched not only the Mulan legend but also Chinese art, architecture, history, and culture. There's also a feature for kids that explains the film's many cultural references, as well as deleted scenes and songs.

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