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turning red

★★★★★

starring: rosalie chang, sandra oh, ava morse, and james hong

 

REVIEWER: lyall carter

A 13-year-old girl named Mei Lee turns into a giant red panda whenever she gets too excited.

Due to the ongoing pandemic Turning Red follows Soul and Luca as the third Disney Pixar feature film to debut exclusively on Disney Plus. Some have said that Disney is undervaluing Pixar in doing this but I see it another way. Not only is it a pragmatic decision to release Turning Red straight to streaming as families have been largely reluctant to return to cinemas but I’d argue that this shows that Disney values Pixar very highly indeed.

 

Understandably Disney wants to grow its streaming platform. What better way to attract families to it than with new content from one of its most beloved and recognizable brands, Pixar? And there’s a very good reason why. Pixar has done it again. With stunning animation and a whole lot of heart, Turning Red is a thoroughly entertaining and trailblazing film telling a story unlike any Pixar has told before.  

Disney and Pixar’s Turning Red introduces Mei Lee, 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, 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, she “poofs” into a giant red panda!

Pixar has always been different. When others were making animated films with dancing and singing heroes and villains, they gave us the non-singing Woody and Buzz and often with no real ‘baddie’ in sight. Now Pixar, who seem to be constantly pushing themselves in terms of animation and storytelling, have not only broken new ground but have hit it out of the park. 

Turning Red is a coming of age tale as Mei Lee hits puberty with all the normal teenage angst around relationships with her family and culture, friendships, and bodily changes that go with it. And Pixar isn’t shy about any of it. In a world where periods are still spoken about in hushed tones and period poverty exists, the fact that Pixar talks about it so openly and in such a normal way is a very good thing indeed. 

Pixar’s design work on the red panda that Mei turns into is breathtaking. Every single strand of fur seems full of a life of its own and the panda is pretty darn cute as well. Every single design detail of everything from its Toronto setting to the family temple pops off the screen in a way that only a Pixar film could. 

Pixar has done it again. With stunning animation and a whole lot of heart, Turning Red is a thoroughly entertaining and trailblazing film telling a story unlike any Pixar has told before. 

★★★★★