Turning Red: An amazing movie


Courtesy of Disney/Pixar

“Turning Red” is about a coming-of-age story, where a 13-year old girl is exploring her identity, transforming into a red panda when she has repressed feelings.

Lakshya Jaiganesh, Staff Writer

{spoilers ahead}

After watching countless promo clips for this movie, and rewatching the trailer over and over again, I was ecstatic when Pixar and Disney’s newest animated film, “Turning Red,” got released to theaters on Feb. 21, 2022, and to Disney+ on March 11, 2022. And just as I expected, the movie was amazing.

Directed by Domee Shi, “Turning Red” is about a 13-year-old girl, Meilin Lee (voiced by Rosalie Chiang). All her life, she has lived up to the expectations that her mother, Ming (voiced by Sandra Oh), has set for her. However, her ancestor, Sun Yee, had a connection to red pandas (Sun Yee loved red pandas and asked the gods to give her the power to use her emotions and transform into a red panda, so she could protect her village. She passed the gift down to her female descendants.), causing her, and the other woman in her family, to transform into a big red panda whenever their emotions are high. This movie follows the chaos of Mei’s youth, and how she becomes torn between being her mother’s perfect daughter, and her “rebellious” teenage self.

One of the things I like about this movie is that it holds a powerful message inside a comedy-filled and heartwarming package. I really enjoyed the moment where Mei discovered that Tyler (voiced by Tristan Allerick Chen), her (former) enemy, is also a 4*Town (the boy band that Mei and her friends are obsessed with) fan. For me, it symbolizes that everyone has another side to them that you may not know, and I think this is an important thing everyone should be aware of, so they don’t create stereotypes. 

I also loved the fact that Pixar/Disney chose to include Asian and female representation in the film. The cast of the movie is really diverse, and all the Asian characters are voiced by Asian actors. Additionally, the main characters are all female, and the director is the first woman filmmaker credited for solo directing (on a Pixar feature). 

“Pixar has a well-deserved reputation for dudes — movies focused on dudes (20 out of 24 feature films), movies directed by dudes (23 of 24), movies written by dudes (50 of 59 screenwriters),” said Brooks Barnes from The New York Times.

This shows the amount of male dominance in all the previous films, and it obviously isn’t fair to female directors/screenwriters/filmmakers/characters. 

But, if you’ve been reading the news lately, you may see that there is a lot of controversy around the topic of puberty and Mei’s behavior in the movie. 

“…the main character (aged 13) participates in super-risky behaviors that would concern parents with children of any age and doesn’t experience any negative consequences and doesn’t apologize (sneaking out, lying, carrying on weeks-long deceptions),” said a 1 star Google Review for this movie.

However, this is an exaggeration, and I completely disagree with the connotation of those words.  The movie does include these things, but it is not emphasized nor encouraged. And, many people are criticizing the film’s supposed “maturity,” claiming that it is inappropriate. Others say that it’s encouraging children to disobey their parents, and to present their wild side at all times. 

I think most people are criticizing the event where Mei doodles a boy that she has a crush on, and describes the drawings as “sexy.” They believe that it is not suitable for a PG movie, or young children who watch the movie. Another thing is the mention of menstruation. A lot of parents don’t want younger kids to ask questions, or learn about that from the movie. Due to this, I would probably recommend ages eight and up to watch the movie. 

I think the movie “Turning Red” is fabulous. It has witty humor, incredible animation, sweetness, feminism, and the relatability factor for some teens/tweens, all in one. I highly recommend this movie to everyone. Hopefully, you will be as pleasantly surprised with it, just like I was.