Mulan ★★½

Gorgeous Disney animation, but otherwise pretty disappointing. The themes of family, honor, and breaking through gender roles, all underdeveloped, and the humor and songs generally weak. The whole thing feels overstuffed and undercooked, like they had to make the movie based on the first brainstorming session. The effect is far more corporate-seeming than even the Disney Juggernaut’s present-day output.

I am underqualified to comment with any authority on the issues of cultural appropriation here, but I did feel weirded out by how very American it felt, especially with the two major speaking comic relief roles and the villain being non-Asian. To say nothing of the almost all-white top-line creative team. Something like Coco, nearly 20 years later, showed how a culture can be portrayed with far more deference, sensitivity, and with deeper participation by people telling their own stories. This is not that.