Monday, December 28, 2015

You don't meet a girl like that every dynasty.

You know how for the last few weeks you couldn't stop thinking about Christmas? Well, neither could my students. And as we limped headed toward holiday vacation, it became increasingly difficult to get them to pay any attention to what I was teaching them. Though to be fair, that's not exactly something new, so let's not blame eight pound, six-ounce Baby Jesus, in his golden, fleece diapers for their inability to focus. No. Trust me, the problem is much bigger than a day on the calendar.

Anyhow, on the final two days of my social studies class, I decided to show a movie. Clearly this isn't any sort of revelation in my classroom, but I am always at least a little leery as to what I'll put on for them. I like it to be that priceless combination of interesting and topical, with a dash of not terrible

And what I chose? Well, let's just say I totally nailed it. 

Talk about a Christmas miracle...

I had never seen Disney's Mulan prior to the Tuesday before Christmas break, and somewhat surprisingly, neither had many of my students. Being that the vast majority of people in the room were born five years after the film's 1998 release date, it's safe to say this was a new experience for most of us (as was learning anything about ancient China - though we'd been studying it for most of December), even if the formula wasn't.

I'm sure everyone knows the story, but just in case, here's the short version, as told by a moron: Equal parts angry and ugly dudes invade China and the Emperor needs to build an army - quickly. Messengers head to even the remotest of villages to recruit one male from every family. Our heroine, Mulan, an only child, takes the place of her aging father in this new ragtag unit of farmers turned soldiers. But, but...she's a girl! Exactly, and a hot one at that. 

Being that No Girls Allowed isn't only for hillbilly tree houses, young Mulan cuts her hair and tapes 'em down, thereby transforming herself into Ping, a likable, unquestionably effeminate dude. Don't ask him, and he won't tell you, okay?

From here, it's your standard hero's quest, complete with rousing score and sing-a-long songs. Obstacles will be overcome by determination and a glorious montage, and eventually Ping/Mulan will become the best soldier they have. But, and there's always a but, even though she's established how badass she is, there will come a point when her secret's (read: boobs) revealed and everyone will instantly forget how she saved them all from sure death. Maybe if she'd save all of China (not just a half-dozen morons), she could possibly be forgiven for, you know, having a vagina - but I doubt it.

Also unlikely, is any joy being derived from the Yays and Boos. Initially we weren't going to bother with reviewing Mulan, but then we remembered not only our principles but our principals, and decided to take a lot of notes, remaining/looking very busy the entire time.

I'm thinking maybe, just maybe...
...she could've fired a little bit earlier.
  • Okay, so that's the best way ever to feed the chickens, right?
  • The Bad Guy is just insanely evil. In fact, one of my students was like, What is this guy? Is he even human? To which I responded, like I do most questions from children, I don't know. Give me a minute.
  • Mulan's guy voice is pretty rad. Even if it's more manly than mine is.
  • Possibly my favorite line ever: Punch him. That's how men say 'hello'.
  • Oh, man. When Mulan gets the arrrow? So sweet. Suck on that, handsome Leader Guy. Suck on that with your incredible strength and grace, manly chin, and well-toned pectorals.
  • That Grasshopper typing sound was very cool (even if the kids didn't know what a typewriter is).
  • Yo, A Girl Worth Fighting For has to be up there with some of the better 'serious' Disney songs of all-time (Love is an Open Door currently holds the 'not serious' title, by the way).
  • Wow, that avalanche maneuver ruled. Good thing that one rock was there!
  • I don't even know his name, but Big Guy was easily my favorite. 
  • Violence! Uh, that one dude was blown to Chinese Hell a million times over. This I approve of greatly.
  • And finally, kind of everything about this movie, honestly. It was exactly what I needed. On topic, school friendly, and all kinds of engaging (they are sixth graders, after all). And, and, my hardcore group of students? Hell, they actually enjoyed it more than my honors class did. Like, they almost demanded that I let them stay and we immediately fire up the second one. They had gym staring them in the face and they were like No. Write us all passes, Mr. Brown. More Mulan, please.
I feel bad for Mushu.
He's the ugliest good character ever.
  • Man, Finishing School Lady was a real...uh, not nice person.
  • Please bring honor to getting married? You know how few ladies there are in China? The dude should be honored, not the lovely young lady.
  • Could you really cut your hair with a sword? Cause if whole life has been wasted.
  • So...that was a lot of naked guys swimming all around Mulan. Like, way too many. That whole seen was very...flappy.
  • I don't ever want to see a naked man again! Damn straight, girl. Damn straight.
  • Zombie Huns! AAaaaaah!
  • Ugh. The typically lame 90's style party-music ending strikes again. I mean, yeah, it was totally tubular and all, but good God...this movie ended in ancient China...and we get this? Stevie Wonder? Yes. 98 Degrees? No. Hell no.
  • And finally, Eddie Murphy. Look, it's not his fault, but he's Donkey. Forever. They should go back and George Lucas him out of this one, because it's ridiculous to see Donkey, be a dragon. He can make sweet love to a dragon, sure, but he can't be one, you know? It ain't right.
The good news is that when the credits rolled on this one, it essentially meant that I had made it, Christmas break had begun. The bad news? Christmas break has begun. Four days ago. I don't even know what I'm going to teach next Monday. That means I've only got six days left...and then I'm back. 

With them. 
And without Mulan least the first one, anyway.


  1. That's what I like about homeschooling. When you reach that point when you realize nothing else worthwhile is going to get accomplished, you're allowed to just throw in the towel until after the holidays. I watched this recently with Patricia Elizabeth. It wasn't terrible -- and it was certainly a step up from a "typical" Disney princess, but I thought they could have done a lot more with it.

    1. If I had that kind of wiggle room, I probably would have shut it down earlier. Say...the week before...Halloween. Of last year.

      Oh they could have certainly done a lot more with it, but for a nineties Disney flick, I thought it was pretty good...maybe even a little...edgy.

      We'll see what they do with the dreaded live-action remake. It could be good, I guess. Or it could be Alice in Wonderland. *shudder*

  2. A little surprised your kids haven't seen Mulan before. The kids I work with are younger and when we put it on during the summer many started talking about how much they love it before it even started. Enjoy the rest of the break.

    1. You too, Dell...right? You're off, yes?

      As for the flick, yeah, not many of them had seen it, but those that had, swore by it (thereby earning it some much needed street-cred at the time). I'm assuming when we get back, they'll all tell me about the second one. Can't wait.

      (that last bit was sarcastic)

  3. That's shocking your kids didn't see Mulan, I thought that was a very widely seen Disney film. I love this one, it's always been one of my favorites.

    Enjoy Christmas break!

    1. White Chicks? Check. All Saw/Insidious/Fast and Furious films? Check check...check. But Disney classics? Not really. Strange how them kids do these days. Strange indeed.

      As my first time through, I gotta admit, I really liked it. I didn't think I would.

      Thanks! You too!

  4. I love 90's Disney...and yet I never really cared much for this one. I mean, it's decent...but kind of forgettable.

    LOL at the Eddie Murphey comment. And to think this came BEFORE Shrek.

    Oh, and if you want edgy Disney, watch their version of Hunchback. No child should have to see that.

    1. 90s Disney is where I totally checked out. Perhaps that's why i liked Mulan as much as I did...or more likely, it was a quiet two hours with a room full of twelve year olds.

      At least Murphy tried to do something a little bit different. Every time Owen Wilson voices some damn animated character it's like Lightning McQueen outtakes. Boo on all fronts there.

      I thought about taking on Hunchback, as it looks so completely sucky, I feel oddly...compelled?