Review: "Turning Red"

Turning Red
Posted on 04/01/2022
Review: Tuning in to “Turning Red”
Lili Graff
Staff Writer
[email protected]

Pixar Animation Studios released its newest film “Turning Red” exclusively to Disney Plus on March 11th, 2022. The director of the film, Domee Shi, creates a coming of age adventure that comedically breaks barriers for Asian representation in the film industry.

Turning Red follows the life of thirteen-year-old Meilin Lee, who is balancing the chaos of teenage life and puberty, while simultaneously attempting to remain dutiful to her overbearing mother. As Mei “Mei Mei” comes of age, she inherits a unique family curse that turns her into a giant red panda any time she gets too excited. It perfectly encapsulates the awkwardness and curiosity associated with growing up, as Mei Mei finds herself constantly gushing over teenage boys and boy bands.

In just its first week of release, the 1 hour and 40 minute movie has already received a 95% from the critics of Rotten Tomatoes and earned 4 out of 5 stars from the film reviewers of Common Sense Media.

The film attempts to demonstrate the tension in a Chinese-Canadian household as Mei Mei feels pressured to appease her mother and overachieve in all aspects of life; she especially strives for academic validation in school. Meilin finds outlets of happiness, like her group of girl friends, that help to tame the internalized stress and emotional “red panda” within her.

The accomplishments this film has made for the Asian community in film creation has been significant. Shi is Pixar's first solo female director, and it's the first Asian-led film by the studio. Behind the screen, the cast is composed of a diverse group of Asian actors including Sandra Oh (as Mei Mei’s mother) and Rosalie Chaing (as Mei Mei).

Personally, I found this movie to be delightful for the whole family, young and old. It is extremely witty and entertaining as it enlightens the audience on a culture that does not receive proper representation in the film industry. However, I must warn parents with young children that their are a lot of scenes relating to effects of puberty and sexual curiosity, a normal but offten sensored part of Disney films. If anything, I find it commendable that Shi makes light of topics that others are often too timid to talk about and it normalizes the changing behaviors during adolescence.

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