A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
In addition to positive lessons about teamwork and friendship, kids will learn a bit about Chinese culture (albeit a Disneyfied version).
Ultimately, the movie's messages are about the importance of working hard and working together, being honest, and trying your hardest. Additional themes include humility, teamwork, and challenging gender stereotypes.
Positive Role Models
Mulan is brave and resourceful. While pretending to be a man, she displays crude and stereotypical male traits, but it's bravado and is played for humor. She demonstrates perseverance, integrity, and courage. Some of the male characters have old-fashioned ideas about what females are capable of, but they learn the error of their assumptions in the end. Mulan disobeys her father, but she does it to help and protect him. She also deceives her friends, but also for reasons that she thinks are right at the time.
Violence & Scariness
Mulan joins the Chinese army during wartime. She learns to fight with weapons. The Huns destroy Chinese villages and kill people (not shown). Some of the battle scenes are scary and intense. Tense sword battle at the climax. Explosions.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some flirting. Shirtless male characters.
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Products & Purchases
Mulan is a Disney Princess, whose brand reaches far and wide. Expect to see princess branding on consumer merchandise, food products, etc. as well as in books, websites, and other media.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
One character smokes a long cigarette.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that although Mulan is a decidedly Disneyfied take on a Chinese fairy tale, elements of Chinese culture and history ring true. It also offers kids a strong female character who (like Moana and Merida) stands out from the Disney Princess pack and offers a positive gender representation for young viewers (even though gender-related stereotypes are also sometimes played for laughs). Expect some scary/intense battle scenes, weapons use, explosions, sad moments, and a very menacing bad guy. The Huns destroy Chinese villages and kill people (not shown). There's a bit of flirting/romantic tension. While Mulan ultimately becomes a hero and helps her people, she does so by rebelling against authority, which is worth discussing. But in the end, this is a story about perseverance, teamwork, and courage that's bound to choke up dads and daughters everywhere. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.