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Monday, May 27, 2024
The Observer

'Turning Red': Get your paws on it now

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Image sources: Disney Plus
Image sources: Disney Plus


When I first saw teasers for the new Pixar movie “Turning Red” directed by Domee Shi, I was super excited. Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved Pixar movies. They hold a special place in my heart because they tell magical and memorable stories. 

In “Turning Red,” 13-year-old Meilin “Mei” Lee (Rosalie Chiang) hits puberty — a time we all reach, but seldom in the way she does. When her “red peony blooms,” (as her mother puts it) Mei turns into a giant red panda. Terrified of what she has become, Mei hides away as her mother (Sandra Oh) offers her sanitary pads and painkillers. Mei tries to control her transformations, but with constant bursts of emotions, she loses control. Mei then finds out that the panda is a gift to her family ancestor that has been passed down through the women of her family.

Mei is a Chinese-Canadian schoolgirl, but she does not have out-of-this world dreams like some Disney heroines. She has desires and dreams that any young girl would have. Mei loves math, has a bubbly personality, hangs out with a great group of friends and loves her parents. She is confident in who she is and is not afraid to show it. Even without the panda chaos that ensues, “Turning Red” is a fun, humorous and cute film. When the panda does come, her parents are accepting and do not stress as much as she does. She finds out that under the next blood moon, she can lock away the panda. The movie subverts conventional plotlines: Mei learns how to control her panda very quickly, instead of struggling with it throughout the movie. Now, all she has to worry about is getting her friends to their favorite boy-band’s concert.  

This is the first Disney movie to openly talk about periods. It does a great job of showing how periods are a natural thing that women go through and that they are just a part of life. It also discusses the importance of growing up and how nothing stays the same forever — that we all will change overtime and how we should accept our changes. The friendship in the film of Mei with Miriam, Priya and Abby is beautiful, fun and important. This friendship allows for Mei to control her panda and for Mei to accept her changes, while her mother cannot at first. I love friendships like this because it is unconditional and loving. The film does an amazing job to show the importance of friendship and family. 

The representation in the film as well is vital to children as it portrays characters from different backgrounds such as Mei with her Chinese culture, in addition to diabetes representation and so much more. Representation is important so that children can see themselves in characters and see their stories told. Representation helps break down stereotypes and allows for children to see themselves on screen in a positive way. Also, "Turning Red" is the first Pixar film with an all-woman leadership team.

I truly loved this film. It reminded me of growing up into an awkward teenage girl, the love that comes from friends and family and why we should all accept ourselves, red fur and all. This film is important, beautiful and magical. Everyone should see it! I am disappointed that the film was not released in theaters and missed the timing to be Oscar nominated for best animated feature because I definitely believe it deserves to be seen by a wide audience and deserves to be nominated for that award. Still, it is currently available on Disney Plus and you should check it out. 

Title: “Turning Red”

Starring: Sandra Oh, Rosalie Chiang, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Ava Morse, Hyein Park

Director(s): Domee Shi

If you like: "Toy Story," "Monsters, Inc.," "Finding Nemo," "Wish Dragon"

Shamrocks: 5 out of 5