"Mulan" Review
© 1998 Fontaine L.
- spoiler warning -

The story of heroine Mulan was simple, according to my memory. It was composed of childhood bedtime stories and elementary school textbook images. At times I tried to paint Mulan with the colors of my own imagination but I have never really succeeded. Mulan remained a character, a legend, a cardboard cutout.

Leave it to Disney to multicolor Mulan. They utterly "Disneyfied" it, if there is such a word. Allow me to explain. Mulan now has two adorable sidekicks - a dragon that speaks Ebonics and a cricket that twitters. The main characters burst out in song and Mulan's ghostly ancestors wisecrack. Of course, every Disney girl has a prince charming, and Mulan's was her commanding officer. This complete change of the Mulan story that was etched in my brain took a while to get used to. At first I was skeptical about the historical accuracy of this movie. Nowhere in my memory had Mulan taken such an important place in Chinese history, nor had the leader of the Huns ever took the Emperor himself hostage. At times I was offended by their belittlement of the war - very little of what was actually going on was shown, and the end of the Huns seemed to easy, too. . . cartoonish.

But these minor qualms that I had were all swept away by the time Mulan first kneeled before her ancestors' graves and decided to go to war. It was a truly touching scene that brought tears to my eyes, and I saw a little bit of my own determination in hers. Throughout the movie it was the constant combination of majestic scenery (beautifully animated - duh, this is Disney!) and striking music (I liked the score better this time than the showtunes) that moved me, reminiscent of the African plains in "Lion King." I suppose children will find Moo-Shu the dragon and the lucky cricket very 90s-oriented and utterly charming, as I did. I think Moo-Shu just outdid Robin Williams's rapping genie. I was never bored for a single second, whether I was busying ROFL or wiping tears.

Although it is a cartoon, Disney once again proves that my faith in them is not misplaced: "Mulan" is not only an entertaining cartoon but one that touches adults to the core (especially women, I might add). Some extreme feminists might cringe at Mulan's final decision of going back to her hometown and becoming a good wife (as she was meant to be?), but now I'm more proud of her than ever I had been when she was just a blurry part of my memory. Now she's not just Mulan, but someone I can look up to and admire, someone who represents the dreams in all of us.

Rating: A- (First viewing, 6/19/98)