Based on an ancient Chinese legend about a young woman who poses as a soldier to save her father's life, Walt Disney Pictures' new animated adventure MULAN is visually striking, funny, exciting, and very moving at times. Although it upholds the importance of family, courage, self-sacrifice, honor, and country, it includes scenes of ancestor worship and spirits of dead people coming alive and a disturbing homosexual subtext.
(B, C, Pa, L, V, S, NN, A, D, M) Light moral worldview of familial love with hymn singing & some pagan elements; 3 mild obscenities; woman slaps man & implied death by bicycle accident; implied fornication; brief side male & female nudity; alcohol use; smoking; and, some rebellious attitudes, a girl runs away from home & a gross scene of a pregnant woman's water breaking.
The talented and beautiful Ming-Na Wen and Lea Salonga give voice to the title character in MULAN. Mulan is a young woman in Ancient China who takes her aged father’s place when the Emperor drafts one member of each family to help fight an invading Hun army. Before the order comes down from the Emperor, Mulan disgraces her family when her grandmother’s “good-luck” cricket, Cri-Kee, creates hilarious havoc in the home of the village matchmaker, who is trying to arrange a marriage for Mulan. Disappointed, her father still comforts his daughter, telling her that some of the most beautiful blossoms are late bloomers. One of her father’s legs has been permanently injured from a previous war. Earlier in the family tombs, he had prayed to the family ancestors to help his daughter with the matchmaker.
When Mulan takes her father’s armor to pose as a man and join the army in his place, her parents pray to the ancestors to watch over Mulan. At this prayer, the “ghosts” of the dead “ancestors” come alive and hold a family meeting. One or two of the “ancestors” complain that Mulan is damaging traditional families by “cross-dressing.” The ancestors awaken a small stone dragon named Mushu, voiced by funnyman Eddie Murphy, and order him to awake the large stone dragon in the garden to be some kind of “spiritual guardian” to Mulan. Mushu wants to go, but they deny his request because the last time they sent him, a family member lost his head. Reluctantly, Mushu tries to wake the dragon, but the stone crumbles. Hiding in the bushes, Mushu holds up the head of the stone dragon and, in a deep voice, pretends to be the bigger dragon.
Accompanied by Cri-Kee, Mushu finds Mulan, who is upset that the ancestors sent her such a puny helper. Together, they find the Emperor’s army. Mulan eventually proves herself to the good-looking drill instructor Captain Shang, voiced by actor B.D. Wong and singer Donny Osmond.
In the second half of the movie, they encounter the Hun army in a snow-covered mountain pass as well as at the Emperor’s palace in the Forbidden City in Beijing, a.k.a. Peking. Will Mulan be able to overcome adversity, save her country and bring honor to her family? Of course, but not before some exciting derring-do and several deeply poignant moments.
The good news about Disney’s new animated extravaganza MULAN is that it is the best animated entertainment they have produced in several years. The movie is visually striking, funny, exciting, and very moving. The bad news is that, although it exhibits some strong moral values, it includes scenes of ancestor worship and the spirits of dead people coming alive. MULAN also contains a homosexual subtext that some adults and teenagers may catch, but may escape the conscious notice of little children. Even so, many moral values are very strong throughout.
Some of the visual artwork in MULAN may be the best animation Disney has ever done in all its history. Particularly noteworthy are the scene where Mulan expresses her desire to be accepted, set amid images of her reflection in the tombs of her family ancestors, and the scenes of the battle in the mountain pass and the exterior of the Emperor’s palace. Led by producer Pam Coats and directors Barry Cook & Tony Bancroft, Disney’s creative team combines this wonderful work with a compelling story filled with powerful emotions. Composer Jerry Goldsmith deserves a lot of credit for helping to bring this story to life, as do actors Ming-Na Wen, Soon-Tek Oh, Eddie Murphy, James Hong, and B.D. Wong, and singers Lea Salonga and Donny Osmond.
MULAN clearly has a strong moral worldview that upholds the importance of family, courage, self-sacrifice, responsibility, honor, freedom, and country. It also demonstrates the value of honoring one’s parents, one of God’s most holy commandments in the Bible. Furthermore, it shows the need that a daughter has for her father’s blessing. There need to be more movies presenting such traditional values in high-quality stories.
Regrettably, the creative team at Disney felt the need to push the theological envelope by including scenes of ancestor worship and spirits of dead people coming alive. They don’t stop there, however. They also include two lines that mock those of us who are concerned about modern society’s acceptance of cross-dressing and other similar perversions that undermine the traditional values of the Bible. Moreover, at one point in the movie, Mulan’s three soldier buddies dress up as women in order to fool some Hun guards. The depiction of their characters doing this, especially their facial features, is done in such a way that it seems to deliberately evoke the drag queens of the homosexual advocacy movement.
True love does not delight in such evil, however. Instead, it rejoices in the truth. The truth is, cross-dressing does help to destroy the traditional moral values of the Bible, and the Bible condemns the practice with the very clear command, “A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this.” (Deuteronomy 22:5)
Those biblical values are based on God’s Law of Love, and Mulan’s posing as a man may be acceptable because she does it in a military situation in order to fulfill a higher moral law — saving the life of her father, just as God commended Judith and Esther who both dressed as men in military situations to fulfill a higher purpose. However, that does not give Disney the right to include a homosexual subtext that condones cross-dressing, especially in its films for children.
God’s Law of True Love also condemns ancestor worship. God forbids consulting the dead in Deuteronomy. 18:11, although that does not mean that Christians should never give honor to our dead ancestors. The Apostle Paul himself gives honor to his Jewish forbears in Chapters Four and Nine of Romans.
Finally, God’s Law of True Love rejects the idea of the “ghosts” or “spirits” of people coming to life on earth. The only spirit Jesus Christ wants to live in His disciples is the Holy Spirit, the righteous counselor and comforter who teaches all things and expresses spiritual truths in understandable spiritual words (John 14:26 and 1 Cor. 2:13).
Thus, MULAN rates a strong caution from MOVIEGUIDE. Please discuss these issues if you see this movie, with or without your children.
Since You’re Here…
We’re sustained by donations averaging about $25. Only a tiny portion of our readers give. If everyone reading this right now gave $7, our fundraiser would be done within an hour. That’s right, the price of one movie ticket is all we need. If Movieguide® is useful to you, please take one minute to keep it online and growing. Thank you.
Movieguide® is a 501c3 non-profit and all donations are tax-deductible.