Mulan

mulan

Mulan
Rating: G
Run Time: 88 minutes
Released: 1998
Director: Tony Bancroft, Barry Cook

Cultural Ratingpawpawpaw

Overall, this film does an excellent job of questioning rigid gender roles regarding femininity. Further, although the film may generalize “Chinese culture,” it does present a culture that is rarely represented in the media.

 Summary

To save her father from serving in the war against the Huns, Mulan disguises herself as a man to take her father’s place and ultimately proves herself to be an honorable Chinese warrior.

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Maleficent

maleficent

Maleficent
Rating: PG
Released: 2014
Run Time: 97 minutes
Directed By: Robert Stromberg

Cultural Rating: pawpawpawpaw

This film does an excellent job of constructing strong, complex female leads. The film also dispels the myth of heterosexual love as perfect and necessary for happiness.

Summary

Maleficent, the villain in Sleeping Beauty, reveals her side of the story regarding the curse she put on Princess Aurora.

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Into the Woods

into the woods

Into the Woods
Rating: PG
Run Time: 125 minutes
Released: 2014
Director: Rob Marshall

Cultural Rating: pawpaw

The film challenges traditional gender roles and media narratives regarding femininity and masculinity but does little to engage with cultural identities regarding race, sexual orientation, the body, and disability. Additionally, the film is full of moral lessons about taking responsibility for your own actions.

Summary

A young couple heads into the woods to release the curse placed on their family.

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High School Musical

high school musical

High School Musical
Rating: G
Released: 2006
Run Time: 98 minutes
Directed By: Kenny Ortega

Cultural Rating: pawpawpaw

            Overall, this film engages with different racial/ethnic identities. Also, the film challenges the rigid cultural construction concerning traditional masculinity.

Summary

Troy and Gabriella struggle to maintain their current friend groups while auditioning for the high school musical.

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Hercules

hercules

Hercules
Rating: G
Run Time: 93 minutes
Released: 1997
Director: Ron Clements, John Musker

Cultural Rating: pawpaw

Overall, this film does not seriously engage with marginalized cultural identities; however, Meg, the main female character, challenges traditional gender roles regarding femininity in some ways.

Summary

This Disney film, based on the classical mythology of Hercules, shows Hercules’ transition from a young boy into a hero. As Hercules tries to reclaim his immortality, he fights against Hades, the Greek god of the underworld, and falls in love along the way.

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Frozen

frozen

Frozen
Rating: PG
Run Time: 102 minutes
Released: 2013
Director: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee

Cultural Rating: pawpaw

Despite the popularity of this film, it is very neutral regarding cultural progressiveness. While some traditional gender roles are challenged by the lead female characters, the movie does not engage with racial diversity, disability, sexual orientation, or the body.

Summary

Two sisters torn apart by their differences must find a way to reconnect.

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Brave

brave

Brave
Rating: PG
Released: 2012
Run Time: 93 minutes
Directed by: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, Steve Purcell

Cultural Rating: pawpawpawpaw

Overall, this film does an excellent job of challenging traditional roles regarding femininity.

Summary

Princess Merida and her mother, the Queen, don’t always agree on the ways princesses should behave, but when Merida seeks out a witch to change her mother, changes occur that she never expected.

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Aladdin

aladdin

Aladdin
Rating: G
Run Time: 90 minutes
Released: 1992
Director: Ron Clements, John Musker
Cultural Rating: paw 

Overall, this film mostly adheres to traditional gender roles and reinforces stereotypes regarding race. While it is noteworthy that Disney attempts to portray a non-white non-western culture, the construction of the people of Agrabah as a generic Middle Eastern “Other” culture is problematic as elements of numerous Middle Eastern cultures across time and space are reduced to a singular stereotype.

Summary

In this Disney classic, the penniless Aladdin of Agrabah (a fictional depiction of a Middle-Eastern empire) attempts to impress the beautiful Princess Jasmine with the help of a genie.

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