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My House is Divided Over the New Mulan Movie

Published on September 22, 2020 8:10 AM EST
My House is Divided Over the New Mulan Movie

We are huge Disney fans in our house. I have every Disney movie from my childhood on VHS tapes still. My children have watched them all since they were toddlers, and when they began making these life action remakes, we were thrilled, and honestly, a little skeptical.

“If it ain’t Baroque, don’t fix it…” However, Beauty and the Beast, my husband’s favorite, won us over. The Lion King pleased my son, who knows that movie inside and out, word for word, and Aladin has us singing in the theater.  

My House is Divided Over the New Mulan Movie

Mulan is my teenage daughter’s favorite movie. The fact that she stayed home with us to watch it proved how excited she was! However, after watching the film, we all had a heated debate over Disney’s latest live-action remake’s merits and shortcomings. 

The biggest critic

My teenager was displeased, and vocally so, throughout the entire movie:

“Mom, there is no Mushu!”

“Yes Paige, remember I told you there was no Mushu.”

“This is dumb, why did we spend $30!”

Then it was:

“Mom, they messed up the matchmaker scene!”

“Why does Mulan already know how to fight?”

“OH MY GOD MOMMY THERE IS NO MUSIC!”

And on and on she went for the entire length of the film. Now, I was thrilled by her reaction because my almost-adult child faded away in my mind, and I could see five-year-old Paige dancing and singing along in the middle of the living room. This is her movie, and she could recite it to you with no help. 

I laughed at her antics but didn’t realize how upset she was until the end. She turned to her girlfriend, who she had already begged to stay and watch this movie, and said: “I know we were going to go out, but can we stay here and watch the real Mulan?”

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After an affirmative response from her girlfriend and her little brother, they put the original on. Paige sat curled on the couch, engulfed in her blankets, sang at the top of her lungs, and watched the movie without messing with her phone.

She didn’t have a single pleasant word to say, and I wonder how long it will take for her to forgive Disney for this “mockery of her favorite movie.” Ouch…

The biggest fan

As much as Paige didn’t like this movie, my 11-year-old son can’t get enough of it. He has watched it multiple times. He doesn’t care that there is no Mushu and thinks the randomly flying Phoenix is cool. He doesn’t care that the Huns are no longer the Huns and are instead the Rourans. He likes the realness.

He wants to know everything there is to know about how this other lady is a witch. I don’t have the answers, so he thinks the problem with this Mulan movie is my lack of knowledge. 

He thinks the fight scenes are fantastic. His biggest question related to the original involved figuring out who was Yao, Ling, Chein-Po, and why Cri-Kee wasn’t a cricket. 

The adults

My husband and I were smack dab in the middle of both kids. The movie, as a movie by itself, was excellent. The film, as a remake of Mulan, was not so good. The action was significant, but the witch lady needed more of a story because she was an exciting addition. I would have liked to have been able to explain her point and storyline a little better to my son.

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The bottom line for me was this was a great movie… it just didn’t feel like Mulan. I would recommend watching it because the acting is superb, and I mean… Jet Li! I spoke with a friend of mine, and her house was not divided; they all agreed: “Great movie, not Mulan.” Her husband even yelled “Mushu” every time the Phoenix flew into the frame. 

Like the witch, the film introduced the idea of Chi but didn’t expand on it enough, other than to mention it repeatedly. It felt a little forced and awkward. There are some different situations regarding the film that have nothing to do with the storyline, causing Disney some grief.

Politics

According to Ryan Faughnder and Alice Su, “The online uproar escalated this week when it was revealed that Disney filmed part of “Mulan” in Xinjiang, a region where China is believed to have detained at least 1 million Muslims — mostly ethnic Uighurs — in internment camps.”

Politicians all over the country have weighed in on where the filming occurred, thanks to the ending credits. Disney gave thanks to the Publicity Department of the CPC Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomy Region Committee. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) wrote a letter detailing how, “Your decision to put profit over principle, to not just ignore the CCP’s [Chinese Communist Party] genocide and other atrocities but to aid and abet them, is an affront to American values.” Double ouch…

Now the film was primarily filmed in New Zealand, which was also thanked in the credits. Still, a few other things made people mad like “Chinese American star Yifei Liu (a.k.a. Crystal Liu) for siding with Hong Kong police over pro-democracy protesters last year during a crackdown on demonstrations.” Our national house is divided on the subject of China, so I am not sure how much of this noise has to do with the movie. 

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My husband and I were aware of these political undercurrents surrounding the movie but decided to ignore the #BoycottMulan movement and give it a shot. 

I’m glad that we did because I appreciated the diversity in these times. I enjoyed the movie, but I asked myself why I had spent the extra $30 to watch a Mushu-less Mulan early. I mean blue Will Smith as a genie worked wonders, why couldn’t we have a CGI Mushu? 

I didn’t tell my child, but I was thrilled we got to watch the animated one right after. Not only did it take me back to 5-year-old her, but it reminded me of myself when I was just a little younger than she is now—singing at the top of my lungs while my little sister and I watched the magic that was Mulan for the first time in 1998.

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