Turning Red: “Panda”monium

This charming family film is sure to resonate with more than just the kids.

Danny Cen

This charming family film is sure to resonate with more than just the kids.

Nicholas Calindro and Danny Cen

Director: Domee Shi

Music by: Ludwig Göransson

Release Date: Mar. 11, 2022

MPAA Rating: PG

Starring: Rosalie Chiang(Meilin), Maitreyi Ramakrishnan(Priya), Sandra Oh(Ming Lee), Ava Morse(Miriam), Hyein Park(Abby)

Our Rating: B

Entering the lineup of Disney’s animated movies, “Turning Red” is a fresh take on the concept of puberty and adolescence. The story follows Meilin Lee, a 13-year old Chinese-Canadian girl who finds herself stuck in a battle of approval from her mother and her chaotic teenage self. In doing so, she finds that every time she lets any severe emotions get the best of her, she transforms into a large red panda. The director, Domee Shi, who is also credited with directing “Bao”, tackles a tricky phase in the lives of many people and ends up nailing the fundamental truth of growing up.

Not only does “Turning Red” encapsulate the message of puberty well but it also teaches the audience to embrace your inner panda. This film’s innovative visuals and direct take on adolescence is what makes it such a unique Disney hit. The dynamic between Mei and her obedient mother, Ming Lee, drives the movie’s message of self-acceptance. Ming fit the stereotype of “tiger moms” which are the mothers who instill fear into their children if they do not deliver perfection in every regard. The front and center attention between the friction of Mei and Ming create opportunities for growth.

‘Turning Red’ was a visually appealing movie to watch and seeing as it included a serious message with a refreshing take made the movie even better,”

— senior Gian Castro

The fast paced animation and anime-influenced artstyle call back to some of the classics like “Sailor Moon.” This aids in bringing in the audience into the life of Mei and the world she lives in. “Turning Red” embraces the idea of friendship and fandom with warmth, where it becomes further developed by Pixar’s detailed designs. The cartoonish style elevates the film’s lighthearted and uplifting tale of Meilin.

Though this film is well crafted, controversy has surrounded the film because of the behavior it promotes among adolescents. In tune with the motif of self acceptance, “Turning Red” promotes the independence of adolescents as they explore their identity during puberty. Mei Lee is frequently disobedient and her behavior delves further into rebellion as the movie progresses. This aspect of the film has come under criticism as parents claim the film promotes troublesome behavior to adolescents.

The question has also arisen as to whether the film is appropriate because of its portrayal of puberty. The film has been deemed by some viewers as too mature for its PG rating, particularly the scenes portraying menstruation. Parents feel that because of the movie’s message and the manner in which puberty and its effects are portrayed, it should be shown to a more mature audience. However, the criticism of the film’s maturity is limited because ultimately it is the decision of the parents to show their children the film.

“There is definitely the question of whether the movie promotes rebellious and troublesome behavior. But I definitely feel that people shouldn’t be too concerned about their children misbehaving more than usual after watching a Pixar movie,” senior Lucas Aguirre said.

“Turning Red” is an excellent demonstration of Pixar’s stellar animation and provides a unique perspective on the experiences of puberty that is easy for a younger audience to understand. However, the rebellious behavior of the protagonists and the possible inappropriateness of the scenes depicting puberty reveal some issues surrounding the films influence over its younger audience. All in all, the film is a youthful and playful representation of a situation that can resonate with audiences alike.