For anyone that hasn’t read any of my other reviews, I’m kind of a Disney fan. Disney plus Pixar pretty much guarantees you are in for a fun ride, and Turning Red does not disappoint
Turning Red is an emotional, heart-warming movie worth a watch. It brings issues that everyone deals with to the silver screen, and it doesn’t shy away from uncomfortable topics. While I felt it was cringey and awkward at times; it was funny and a good family movie.
Whenever Disney decides to make the setting of a movie the greatest country in the world, my bias comes out a little bit.
What is Turning Red about?
Turning Red follows the story of Mei Lee, as she enters the “adult” world of 13-years-old and begins to deal with pressures and stress. Among the normal pressures the world places on a new teen, Mei has an extra dilemma. She just so happens to turn into a very large Red Panda every time her emotions get too high or low.
Mei tries to balance school, her friends, going to see 4 town, her parents, and their temple, while trying to hide her Red Panda from the world.
Who’s in Turning Red?
Turning Red has 5 main characters, all very present in Mei’s. Mei Lee, voiced by Rosalie Chiang, is our quirky protagonist. She tries really hard to please everyone, and quickly learns that isn’t always possible. She has 3 really close friends, Miriam (Ava Morse), Abby (Hyein Park), and Priya (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan). Miriam is the clear leader, the mother bear if you would. Abby is passionate and cares for her friends, and 4town, immensely. Priya is the quietest group member, but when she talks the group listens.
The greatest influence in Mei’s life comes from her mother, Ming Lee (Sandra Oh). Ming is a strong woman who has been through more than she cares to share and she does her very best to protect her Mei from those experiences. She falls under the helicopter parents category, but her intentions are pure.
Disney and Pixar working together creates immense expectations, but they usually don’t miss. Turning Red is no different. The movie has some really solid characters and the style of animation is awesome. While I didn’t expect it, there are times we resemble Raya and The Last Dragon. I can remember watching Bao in theatres years ago, and I’m happy to say Domee Chi’s full length film is better than her nominated short. Turning Red does have the same up front and honest tone to it that made Bao weird, but it works wonderfully when the plot has time to grow.
The first half of Turning Red is nothing special and is honestly boring. The awkward humour doesn’t work until we get to know our characters, and the last hour is so much funnier. The character development in the first half is what makes or breaks this movie, both plot-wise and comedically, and this could have easily flopped without some smooth writing.
Mei’s panda takes a minute to actually appear, even though it is a major part of the film, and I thought that was a great decision. By seeing Mei’s life before the panda, it shows the health and unhealthy progress that occurs in subtle ways. Watching certain things deteriorate and certain things improve 10 fold as a result of fitting into your own skin is something everyone can related to.
Once you survive the set up of the first 50 minutes, Turning Red becomes much better. I really enjoyed the mix of action and drama we get to end this movie. There a few scenes in the last 45 minutes that make this feel like a two act film, and I didn’t mind it. The scenes that create this tone shift are so much more engaging and entertaining than the beginning was. It really redeems this movie in my mind.
From the rebellion to realizing where her heart truly lies, Mei takes us on a journey that many of us struggle along ourselves.
Go check out Turning Red on Disney +