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'Turning Red' Review: A Fun, New Pixar Film

Courtesy of Pixar Studios

Turning Red is the newest Pixar film directed by Domee Shi and is about a 13-year-old girl named Mei Lee who tries to be both the perfect daughter for her mom and be like her friends. During all of this, Mei turns into a giant red panda when she gets too excited. It’s something all the female members of her family go through at a certain age. The film is currently on Disney Plus instead of theaters.

Pixar has made a lot of my favorite animated films. Movies like Toy Story, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, and Monsters, Inc are some of my favorite animated films. The only Pixar film I do not care for is Cars 2. Recently, Pixar has gone back to focusing on original ideas after spending half the 2010s making sequels to previous films. Turning Red is another solid Pixar film that adults and kids will likely enjoy. Like previous Pixar films, it deals with certain subject matters in a creative, entertaining way. Here, Turning Red tackles emotions of excitement and anxiety and expectations parents have on their children.

Turning Red’s voice cast does a great job. Rosalie Chiang as the main character Mei is great in her voice performance. Mei Lee is a bright middle school kid that has personal interests her mom does not approve of, so she tries to hide them. Sandra Oh as Mei’s mother, Ming Lee, is also great in her voice performance as the over-protective, strict mom. Ming Lee loves her daughter, but wants to believe she can do nothing wrong. The film’s setting in Toronto, Canada during the early 2000s works well and captures certain things that were popular around that time including boy bands. The film also does a very good job of capturing Chinese culture. Something Pixar has gotten better at the last few years is showing other nationalities and cultures in their films and exploring them.

The film does follow the classic Disney trope of characters not getting along or not agreeing with their parents. In this case, it’s Mei and her mom that have a conflict with each other. For example, Mei likes this boy band that her mom does not approve of and wants to see their concert. It doesn’t make the film bad, but does not add anything new. Another trope used in a lot of Pixar films, including the previous Pixar film Luca, is friendship. The friendship between Mei and her friends that her mom does not approve of was one of the stronger aspects of the film. Similar to Luca, the main characters are kids, but Turning Red does not dumb the film down or make it too childish.

All in all, Turning Red keeps the Pixar brand strong. They keep the message of friendship in the Pixar brand strong. I wish Disney released it in theaters and hope this is the last Pixar film to go to Disney Plus. It’s not the best Pixar film nor my favorite, but I enjoyed this film a lot. While the family drama could be a familiar trope, Pixar still finds a way to make this film unique. Families will enjoy the film and I highly recommend it.

Final Grade: B+

What did you think of Turning Red? Let us know in the comments down below.

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