Coming of age stories seem to dominate the movie scene – they’re something that a lot of the audience can relate to. And while it doesn’t seem like one where a teenage girl turns into a giant Red Panda would hit viewers in the feelings – Turning Red has something special in-store.
The movie is directed by Domee Shi who created the animated short Bao, which played before Incredibles 2. And this story, much like Bao, tackles the generational relationship between immigrant parents and their children who are growing up here in the United States. It doesn’t have quite the shocking moment that Bao gave viewers, the movie comes with another emotional punch that audiences can not only relate to but could actually start conversations with their own parents.
Turning Red follows the story of Mei, a young girl in Toronto who’s devoted to helping at the family temple and her friends. She’s at that age where she thinks she’s an adult, but her parents are even more strict because they know she’s not old enough to tackle the world yet. Mei has a close-knit group of friends, a Tamagotchi-like pet she keeps alive, and an obsession with a boy band 4*Town. Life as a thirteen-year-old is fine – until she wakes up one day and finds that she’s now a giant Red Panda. Her red panda comes out whenever she is upset, and Mei has to not only learn to control her emotions but balance her life outside of her house – and try to be a normal teenage girl.
The movie feels like the story was taken from personal experiences. From the obsession with boy bands to the group of friends you can always rely on, to the complicated relationship between mothers and daughters- Turning Red has so many nostalgic and personal notes it’s hard not to love the film.
Turning Red feels like it’s a love letter to girls experiencing those awkward teen years. To the girls of the 80s and 90s where technology hadn’t quite taken over our lives yet and most of all. And to the girls who are struggling to find their own voice in their world despite what their parents have planned for them. With a touch of nostalgia, the movie is not only relatable to parents who went through this but also girls who are going through it now. It doesn’t matter if the situations aren’t exactly what you grew up with, the movie is relatable and a good reminder that these struggles are similar for both parents and children of different generations.
Unfortunately, like all of the other releases Pixar has had in the last couple of years, Turning Red is only being released on Disney+. While this makes the movie more accessible to a larger audience, this is a beautiful movie that would have done well on the big screen. There are times that the line between animation and hyper-realism is blurred and the details would pop on a large theater screen. Mei and all of the characters are animated just slightly cartoony, when the light hits her face when she’s in bed you’d swear you’re looking at a sleeping child. The animation skills for this and every recent Pixar release have been amazing, making you wonder why it keeps being pushed to streaming other than the current covid numbers.
About Turning Red:
Disney and Pixar’s “Turning Red” introduces Mei Lee (voice of Rosalie Chiang), a confident, dorky 13-year-old torn between staying her mother’s dutiful daughter and the chaos of adolescence. Her protective, if not slightly overbearing mother, Ming (voice of Sandra Oh), is never far from her daughter—an unfortunate reality for the teenager. And as if changes to her interests, relationships and body weren’t enough, whenever she gets too excited (which is practically ALWAYS), she “poofs” into a giant red panda! Directed by Academy Award® winner Domee Shi (Pixar short “Bao”) and produced by Lindsey Collins “Turning Red” launches on Disney+ March 11, 2022.