Turning Red showcases the new direction Pixar is going for

What, you don’t turn into a red panda when you hit puberty? 

On March 11, Pixar released Turning Red on Disney+ instead of a theatrical release. The story follows 13 year old Mei Lee in Toronto, Canada. She goes about being a confident, independent 8th grader, and then flips the switch to obedient doting daughter around her parents. Her life seems to be on track, until her strong emotions cause her to turn into a red panda which is caused by her ancestors. 

Turning Red is a great exploration into puberty, showcases Pixar’s expressive animation, and continues down the path of Pixar’s more personal approach.

Mei Lee is honestly refreshing as a main character since she feels like a person I would meet. It very much helps that Rosalie Chiang, who plays Mei Lee, gives a performance that really conveys Mei’s plight. I enjoy watching films from different perspectives, and Turning Red did a masterful job portraying the perspective of a Chinese teenage girl.It is very important to have representation for everyone, even if some people in the audience might not find it ‘relatable.’ Also, periods are brought up in the movie which is not inappropriate since some people get their period as soon as 8 years old. It is a normal thing people go through, and it only becomes taboo when people make it taboo. This only adds to how this film feels like something that would happen in the real world, except for the whole turning into the red panda thing. 

Mei Lee is honestly refreshing as a main character since she feels like a person I would meet. It very much helps that Rosalie Chiang, who plays Mei Lee, gives a performance that really conveys Mei’s plight. I enjoy watching films from different perspectives, and Turning Red did a masterful job portraying the perspective of a Chinese teenage girl.”

— Nicole Nantz

The greatest aspect of this film is the animation. I love how modern day 3D animation has become so much more expressive. The physical comedy from just the facial expressions from the characters alone were great. It is amazing to see how the creative team created such a colorful 2002 boy band world that still relates to our current day. 

This film was especially interesting to me since it reminds me so much of actual teenage girls and people I have met in my real life. These girls remind me of all the phases I saw other people go through. The boy band craze, rebelling against their moms, doing dumb stuff and coming up with schemes. The friendship between Mei and her friends Miriam, Priya, and Abby is refreshing since they have such a genuine and realistic bound. 

However, there are some issues with the film. There are some forms of tonal whiplash with how the Red Panda is treated. While I myself found the mom character, Ming Lee (Sandra Oh), really enjoyable, I can see why people find her unlikeable. I also felt as though we could have spent more time with Mei interacting with her friends. I wish they delved more into the generational trauma angle the film was going for. Overall, I just wished for more. 

Though I do believe the film has its problems, I still enjoy it. You can only watch the film on Disney+, and you don’t have to pay any extra price like with other at home Disney releases. Throughout Pixar’s latest films, Onward, Soul, and Luca, though different in quality, have shown a current trend where they take fantastical and unusual situations to convey very human and realistic messages. I look forward to the future of Pixar’s films as they continue to make original stories instead of unnecessary sequels (please don’t be bad Lightyear). I would rate this 4 stars out of 5 stars. 

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