Disney and Pixar’s Turning Red introduces Mei Lee (voice of Rosalie Chiang), 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 (voice of Sandra Oh), 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 (which is practically ALWAYS), she “poofs” into a giant red panda! Directed by Academy Award® winner Domee Shi (Pixar short “Bao”) and produced by Lindsey Collins.
KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katherine S. comments, “Turning Red is a vivid and dazzling animated story of friendship, parenting, adolescence, and boy bands. Director Domee Shi makes her feature film directorial debut and gives us her unique take on puberty and parenting. Kids and adults alike will find this movie enjoyable given the relevancy of the topics and relatability of the characters.” See her full review below.
By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14
Turning Red is a vivid and dazzling animated story of friendship, parenting, adolescence, and boy bands. Director Domee Shi makes her feature film directorial debut and gives us her unique take on puberty and parenting. Kids and adults alike will find this movie enjoyable given the relevancy of the topics and relatability of the characters.
Set in Toronto in 2002, this beautifully-animated movie follows Meilin “Mei” Lee (Rosalie Chiang), a confident 13-year-old girl who is torn between staying her overprotective mother’s obedient daughter and being an independent person with her own interest. And if that is not enough, whenever she feels a powerful emotion, she turns into a giant, fluffy red panda.
The world-building is phenomenal, specifically that of the boy band that Mei and her friends are obsessed with. 4-Town, the boy band, perfectly captures the essence of a boy band with corny love songs, crazy fanatics and, of course, cute boys. Along with that, Turning Red captures the complexity of mother-daughter relationships across generations with both comedy and drama. The animation is visually stunning as it mixes Eastern and Western animation techniques together to make a fresh, new style while still staying true to Pixar’s recognizable animation form and style. My favorite performances are that of Sandra Oh (Ming) and Rosalie Chiang (Mei) because there is such a strong chemistry between the characters in how the actors portray a real-life, genuine relationship.
The message of the movie is to honor your parents, but make sure to be your own person while doing so. The movie animates the idea of suppressing your emotions and personality for others. It also highlights the power of friendship and the key role it plays in your life.
I give Turning Red 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18, plus adults. Turning Red releases exclusively on Disney+ on March 11, 2022.
Keywords: Domee Shi, Julia Cho, Julia Cho, Sarah Streicher, Lindsey Collins, Rosalie Chiang, Sandra Oh, Ava Morse, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Hyein Park, Orion Lee, Wai Ching Ho, James Hong, animation, adventure, panda.