At thirteen, most adolescents are dealing with the trials and tribulations of puberty. For Mei, experiencing the awkwardness of becoming a woman comes with a twist — whenever she gets too emotional, she becomes a giant red panda.
Pixar and Disney’s latest animated film, Turning Red, is a culturally rich and delightfully inventive story about growing up. Some of the metaphors are super on the nose but it does not detract from the adorable awkwardness of the characters and beautifully bold animated visuals. I found it hard to resist Domee Shi’s heartfelt depiction of growing pains and embracing one’s true self.
Any woman who has been a teenager (so basically everyone) can relate to the film’s exploration of a mother-daughter’s complicated relationship during this crazy time, and Turning Red certainly does a fantastic job addressing this. I definitely found myself remembering some of those uncomfortable arguments as I tried to learn who I was becoming.
Pixar never shies away from complicated subjects, however, this felt super risky. It’s an acute premise that has universal relatability. And BIG KUDOS for having a Disney movie openly address periods. Like, yes. Normalize it.
It’s certainly not Pixar’s finest work and I couldn’t help but cringe a little during the over the top third act including the line: “my panda, my choice.”
However, the energy is infectious and you can’t help but smile and remember to embrace your own inner panda.
Final Thoughts: Turning Red is imperfect yet simply irresistible. Just like one of Mei’s boy band loves.