Review: Pixar’s ‘Turning Red’ original, unconventional

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Courtesy of Disney News

Pixar’s “Turning Red” was released Feb. 21 on Disney Plus. TRL’s Audrey McCaffity explains the missed audience of “preteens and up” in the film’s advertising.

In Pixar’s first film of 2022, “Turning Red” explores becoming a teenager in the early 2000s. The film was released on Feb. 21, but it skipped a theater release in favor of Disney Plus. 

The movie follows Meilin “Mei” Lee, a 13-year-old girl of Chinese heritage, who faces average challenges of an adolescent girl, as well as a very large and unique “inconvenience.” One morning, Mei wakes up and finds herself to be a red panda. Her mother later explains the spirits blessed their ancestor, Sun Yee, with the ability to transform into a red panda, a trait that only women in their family inherit. Mei strives to control strong emotions while facing the decision to undergo a ritual concealing the red panda forever.

The film does a great job of showing the change young girls go through as they become teenagers. It showcases topics that are not often covered in films like periods and highlights the changing dynamics of families as their children grow up. The tension between Mei and her mother’s relationship is shown well throughout the film. Near the end, Mei and her mother get into a huge fight, but this only brings them closer in the end. The film shows that even though Mei is finding her own path, her mom is always going to be in her life.

The animation of the film is high quality, and Pixar adds detail in every scene that makes the movie aesthetically pleasing. The giant red panda that Mei turns into is cute, and the fact that she transforms when she feels almost any emotion is important. The film ends up using this to validate showing your emotions at the appropriate times. 

One thing that Disney and Pixar could have done better was changing the advertising. There has been some controversy that the film handles topics that are too mature for the intended audience, but I think this stems from advertising. The movie should be targeted towards preteens and up, but some of the ads may have made parents believe the film was meant for their elementary school-age children. Nothing in the movie is “inappropriate,” but if parents understood more about the movie before making the decision, the controversy could be avoided. 

Much of the feedback that this movie has received has brought up some of the “cringe” scenes that take place. While this is true, it is very clear that the point of the movie is to help move beyond these moments and show people that their struggles will not last forever. 

Overall, I think that the movie tells a good story for its intended audience. While it is certainly not for everyone, it develops an important story of understanding that many would benefit from.

Rating: B+