TURNING RED (2022) – My rating: 6.5/10

The poster shows a corkboard with various decorations, stickers, sticky notes, a magazine, as well as images of Mei, her classmates, and other characters, with the larger image showing Mei as a giant red panda and her classmates, with the Toronto skyline in the background. The tagline on top reads "Growing up is a beast." The film's logo is shown on the bottom along with its MPA Rating.

Turning Red is a computer-animated fantasy comedy produced by Pixar Animation Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. It was directed by Domee Shi (in her feature directorial debut) and produced by Lindsey Collins, from a screenplay written by Shi and Julia Cho, and a story by Shi, Cho, and Sarah Streicher. The film marks the first Pixar feature film solely directed by a woman. The plot follows a 13-year-old Chinese-Canadian student who transforms into a giant red panda when she experiences any kind of strong emotions, due to a hereditary curse. Because Turning Red was nominated for an Oscar, I was obligated to see the film, which I thought was a little over the top but still an entertaining story.

In 2002 Toronto, 13-year-old Meilin “Mei” Lee (voice: Rosalie Chiang), who lives with her parents, Ming (voice: Sandra Oh) and Jin (voice: Orion Lee), helps take care of the family’s temple dedicated to their ancestor Sun Yee, while she works to make her mother proud. Mei hides her personal interests from Ming, such as the fact that she and her friends Miriam (voice: Ava Morse), Priya (voice: Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), and Abby (voice: Hyein Park) are fans of the boy band 4*Town. One night when Ming, who is strict and overprotective, discovers Mei’s crush on Devon (voice: Addie Chandler), the local convenience store clerk, she haphazardly humiliates Mei in public. That night, Mei has a vivid nightmare involving red pandas. When she wakes up the next morning, she has transformed into a large red panda.

As if turning into a red panther isn’t weird enough, this story takes turns into some very interesting places. Turning Red gets a little crazy while managing to become magical and even silly at times. Mei’s adventures can seem over the top but all is effectively explained in every frame of the movie. The story is also a little bold and may make some children feel skirmish, not being familiar with how the female anatomy works. Mei learns some lessons about managing her newfound position and the reaction of other children in her school. In this movie, the village is very much involved with resolving Mei’s issues and Ming also learns a lesson or two.

As of September 2022, Turning Red has earned $20.1 million outside the U.S. and Canada. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 95% of 280 critics’ reviews are positive, with an average rating of 8/10. The website’s consensus reads, “Heartwarming, humorous, beautifully animated, and culturally expansive, Turning Red extends Pixar’s long list of family-friendly triumphs”. I think  Turning Red is a good film for the whole family and is streaming on Netflix — Check It Out!

FYI:  (read below before letting your child watch Turning Red)

The attention drawn by O’Connell’s review led parents and other audience critics to raise further issues with the film due to the character specificity, bringing up concerns that the film, aimed at a family audience, brings up the issues of menstruation, teenage crushes, and sexuality, and disobedience towards one’s parents, which these people felt were topics best left for parents to discuss with their children on their own.

[TURNING RED is Oscar-nominated for Best Animated Feature Film at the 95th Academy Awards for a total of 1 nomination]



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