Pixar’s Turning Red follows Meilein (Rosalie Chiang), a 13-year-old girl who is torn between being her mother’s perfect daughter and being her boyband-obsessed self. This is made even more difficult when she starts turning into a giant red panda whenever she experiences strong emotions.
I found Turning Red to be an extremely sweet film about the hardships of being a young teenage girl. I know that I cringe at myself whenever I think back to those years. You like and do a lot of embarrassing things from ages 12-15. So I found it very refreshing that we have a protagonist that loves boybands and doodles the boys she likes as mermaids. This is typically teenage girl behavior and I don’t think I’ve really seen it embraced in this way before on-screen.
Meilein’s mother, Ming (Sandra Oh), on the other hand, is very overprotective. She believes her daughter can do no wrong and thinks Mei is being taken advantage of when she finds out her daughter has a crush on an older boy. She’s proud that Mei can successfully suppress her panda (though she doesn’t know that Mei only does that in front of her).
Another thing I found relatable in this film is as you grow up, you aren’t as close to your parents as you are as a kid. That is a scary thing. You of course want your parent’s approval, but you also want to do things on your own, mainly drooling and complaining about boys with your best friends.
Like Encanto, there is not really a villain in this film. The main obstacle in the film is overcoming the fear that adults may have about you changing and embracing puberty. This kid’s movie that talks about periods! Periods for some reason are still considered taboo. Another thing I really enjoyed was the female friendships in this movie. Mei has a small group of best friends who like to sing, dance, and freak out together.
The biggest detriment to this film I believe was the lack of development between Ming and her mother (Mei’s grandmother). I think this would have given us more insight into why Ming is so protective over her daughter. We find out that all the women in Mei’s family have turned into a giant red panda and performed a ritual to get rid it. We also learn that Ming and her mother got into a huge fight that they never really got over, but this is not really explored.
I really wished I had this film when I was 12. While I didn’t love everything about Turning Red, namely the weird third-act battle, I know this will be a special film for a lot of young girls. I still remember and carry my giant red panda within me, and I think we should all embrace it every once in a while.
I give Turning Red a B.