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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Mulan II is a 2005 Disney animated movie. There is some cartoon violence and peril throughout the film, but what shines through most is the theme of love being a decision made not by external forces, but by the heart itself. Besides the occasional violence -- fighting with swords, tridents, fists, and feet -- a girl sings about wanting to "bounce around in [her] underwear" during a musical sequence. Two of the main characters hang precariously off a rickety wooden bridge. There also is a large array of Mulan-themed action figures and plush toys for sale that tie in with this movie franchise.
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What's the story?
In MULAN II, it's one month after she's saved China from the Huns and Mulan (Ming-Na Wen) joyfully becomes engaged to her former captain, Shang. But they are quickly summoned by the emperor for a special mission. To seal an alliance with a neighboring nation, the emperor will send them his three daughters for marriage. Mulan, Shang, and a trio of misfit soldiers accompany the princesses to ensure their safety. The princesses quickly fall in love with the soldiers, however, and don't want to go through with the plan. Thanks to dragon Mushu's meddling, Mulan and Shang break up and must seal their own alliance even as they figure out how to save China again.
Is it any good?
Good voice actors such as Ming-Na Wen as Mulan and Pat Morita as the emperor return for the sequel to the much-loved Mulan, but it has it problems. Clearly the creators had some difficulty figuring out how to build on the legend. Mulan II plays like a Saturday-morning cartoon, with a lightweight story that has China's savior playing matchmaker to three princesses. Although in the first movie Mulan's independence and sense of self led her to disobey her father to protect him and save her country, here "following your heart" means that characters fall in love instantaneously and then disregard agreements made with their parents. Instead of strong, they seem selfish and flighty.
Adding to the silliness is Mulan's watchful dragon, Mushu. It's difficult to understand Disney's decision to include even more of this annoying character the second time around. Here, out of jealousy, he stirs up misunderstandings and eventually a grave conflict between Mulan and Shang. In the end, events and feelings sort themselves out, but the process isn't very pleasant to watch. The trouble he causes isn't funny, it's sad. The DVD includes a shadow-identifying game that may prove difficult for kids. The "World of Mulan" feature is fun and educational, with an exploration of Chinese cultural symbols.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the importance of respecting others and how fulfilling your responsibilities sometimes shows even more inner strength than doing what you want.
How are musical numbers used in this and other Disney films? What lessons do these songs try to teach?
What similarities and differences do you see between this film and other more modern Disney animated films?
- In theaters: February 1, 2005
- On DVD or streaming: February 1, 2005
- Cast: Lucy Liu, Sandra Oh, Ming-Na Wen
- Director: Darrell Rooney
- Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Adventures, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs
- Run time: 79 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
- MPAA explanation: all audiences
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.