Disney's latest instant classic, "Mulan" tells the tale of a young Chinese woman (Ming-Na Wen) who takes her father's place in the army to preserve the old man's life. Little does she know that fate has conspired to make her a hero. Even with the aid of a small dragon (Eddie Murphy) sent by her ancestors to protect her and a lucky little cricket, she still has her work cut out for her. Luckily, this determined soldier is up to the challenge.
Although Mulan is rumored to have been a real person, the film bearing her name contains all of the usual Disney embellishments. The songs, with two exceptions, aren't terribly memorable, but they do fit in nicely with the theme of the film. Comic relief is supplied by a wise-cracking Eddie Murphy, without whose presence the film would be much less fun than it is. The animation quality is predictably high, with some stunning computer-animated sequences.
My only complaint with the film is that the mystique of the Orient is barely in attendance after the filmmakers' finished squeezing the story through the usual Disney formula. To their credit, though, this approach seems to have made the subject matter more palatable to Western audiences, judging by the reactions of the kids at the advance screening.
"Mulan" is suitable for, and will be entertaining to, audiences of all ages. Miss it and you'll be missing one of the sweetest treats of summer.