As a highly nostalgic '90s baby, I was unsure of how the live-action remake of Mulan could top the animated version of my childhood without Eddie Murphy's Mushu or the iconic (though toxically masculine) jam "I'll Make a Man Out of You." But dang, Disney did it, and it did Mulan even better. In 2020, Mulan (Liu Yifei) doesn't need Mushu for assurance, and her legendary story doesn't need to be set to fun songs — she's an empowered badass, and all she needs is to harness her own mental and physical strength to unleash the fierce warrior she is. This live-action movie is one I can't wait to watch with my kids one day, to show them that what a person is told they can't or shouldn't do as a result of gender stereotypes is all a fallacy — they can be whoever and whatever they see fit.
That said, as the film is live-action and not an animated movie filled with comic relief, there are a few small things to be aware of before sitting down to watch with your young kids. Poke through those footnotes ahead, then gather your family for a Mulan movie night — you can purchase the film on Disney+ now!
What Parents Should Know About the Live-Action Mulan Remake Before Watching With Kids
- As the film is live-action, the weapons are real and the battles are more intense. While Mulan and her fellow soldiers are in training, there isn't too much action aside from a couple of sword fights, but once the Imperial Army heads into war, the heat turns up. There are cannons, swords, spears, and arrows; buildings smoke; explosions occur; and soldiers on horseback charge at each other. Of the two battles, the first one is a bit more intense, though during the second, a man falls a looong way to his death. It's not shown in a scary way, per se, but it's clear what happens.
- There's a new character, a witch, who is a bit frightening. Xian Lang — a powerful, shapeshifting witch — is introduced as a somewhat evil character who should be feared (she can turn her fingers into talons like a cooler Wolverine!). She's an ally to the film's villain, Bori Khan, and appears to be helping him in his attack against China and its emperor. However! Without spoiling too much, her storyline becomes one of my favourites when we learn she's maybe not so scary after all.
- There's some blurred nudity. After being told she desperately needs to shower (rude!), Mulan wades naked into a lake in the dark, her body shown from behind but blurred out and slightly hidden behind cherry blossoms, so you can't really see anything. During the rest of the scene, Mulan desperately hides all of her bits to avoid being found out by Chen Honghui, who abruptly enters the lake — also naked — and stands within a 10-foot distance of Mulan while they have a brief chat.
- It's a bit long. The runtime on Mulan is two full hours, and while you don't have to worry about choosing the right scene to miss in order to run to the bathroom at the theatre, it's still a long time for a young kid to sit still. But don't worry: there are plenty of opportune times to pause and take a bathroom or snack break.
- There are a few themes that could spark meaningful conversation. This one isn't exactly "something to be aware of," but it's worth noting that the concepts in this film — gender roles, family honour (and dishonour), lying, etc. — are all things that could lend to thoughtful conversations with your kids. Do you feel there's a difference between lying to protect your family — as Mulan does — and true dishonesty? How does Mulan's gender play a role in what she's assumed to do as a young woman, as opposed to what is expected of men of the same age? Depending on the ages of your kiddos, these discussions could turn into really awesome ones!