Pixar’s “Turning Red” is turning heads


Photo via Disney

Pixar’s new movie, “Turning Red,” began streaming on Disney+ on March 11. I was holding my breath watching the disastrous red panda make its way into Toronto’s streets, and it was worth it. In the film, 13-year-old Meilin “Mei” Lee (Rosalie Chaing) strives to make her family proud, especially her mother, Ming Lee (Sandra Oh). Mei develops a strange genetic “inconvenience” that gives her the ability to turn into a red panda when she feels any intense emotion. Her mother tries to coach her through the tough time while Mei ventures out, discovering things about herself that she never knew and finding independence all while jeopardizing her family’s morals.

Pixar really outdid itself with “Turning Red:” the cinematography and soundtrack were already impressive on their own. The different connections and interactions between Mei and surrounding characters such as her family and friends all made perfect sense with her character. Seeing her grow beyond those connections, though, was what truly made this movie a masterpiece. 

I loved seeing the complexities of her mother, Ming, especially how the mother-daughter relationship she had as a teen impacted the image she now has for her daughter. A lot of Mei’s fears and insecurities — “generational trauma,” if you will — came from her mother Ming.

The red panda that Mei becomes has some symbolism of growing up, seeing as her outbursts and slip-ups from her perfect agenda and persona is something a lot of teenagers can go through. What first came across as a curse to Mei turned into something beneficial for her, followed by going behind her mother’s back for said benefits and causing the start of her teenage rebellion. 

I liked seeing Mei step out of her comfort zone and rebel a bit against her responsibilities, despite Ming’s attempts to keep Mei in line along with all her duties through trial and error, not to mention the outbursts when tensions between the two rose.

I found few flaws in Turning Red as everything lined up perfectly. I’d like to see more of Ming’s backstory, but that’s not necessary for the plot of the movie since it was summarized already. I’d recommend this film to anyone that’s considering watching it.