Turning Red (2022)

turning red poster 2022 movie
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Some good ideas, tries to be more adult

Themes of the film are over played, stereotypes that aren't challenged and somewhat enforced by the story

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Turning Red

Studio:  Pixar Animation Studios/Walt Disney Pictures

Genre(s):  Animated/Comedy/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Family

Release Date(s):  March 1, 2022 (Premiere)/March 11, 2022 (US)

MPAA Rating:  PG

turning red panda temple mai mother costume

A more realistic red panda would be one that sleeps all the time in a tree because that is all they do at the zoo…

Meilin “Mei” Lee is just a thirteen-year-old trying to get through school as she helps her smothering mother run a temple/museum in Vancouver.  Things are changing for Mei, and she’s starting to have all sorts of strange feelings.  When she wakes up one morning and discovers she’s turned into a giant red panda, she learns her family is afflicted with a curse.  Despite the curse, the biggest thing in Mei’s life might not be the red panda but the coming of her favorite boy band 4*Town…and the red panda could ruin everything.

Directed by Domee Shi, Turning Red is a Disney family animated comedy.  The Disney-Pixar movie followed Pixar’s Luca in 2021.  The film premiered on Disney+ on March 11, 2022 and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated feature.

turning red panda party

Ain’t no party like a Red Panda Party!

I kept meaning to watch Turning Red, but I never got around to it.  The film did have some controversy for implying that children stop being children at some point and face puberty…which was a radical idea for a Disney movie.  Turning Red despite its very slightly more adult theme feels a lot like other Disney-Pixar features.

The story is a story of friendship which of course is one Disney’s common themes.  This movie combines the theme of friendship with the obligations of families.  Mei is in the tough place of wanting to branch out…and the red panda just exacerbated the situation by giving her mother more control over her through her experiences while it gives Mei freedom to be herself.

It is also notable that the people giving Mei the hardest time about her appearance is her family and not her friends who are much more accepting of the red panda.  The movie hits you over the head with the message of acceptance, but overall it is a good, positive message.  It feels ridiculous that a kid would risk her future by wanting to attend a concert, but it also is something that is real and important to a thirteen-year-old.

turning red mai vs mother 4 town concert rosalie chiang sandra oh

Remember that time we went to that 4*Town concert and that huge giant red panda attacked and that girl became a red panda and fought her with 4*Town? That was weird…

The movie looks good, but also faced some criticism for the animation.  It is definitely more stylized than some of the other films which go for a more “real” look to their animation designs.  This could be either seen as good or it could be seen as cheap…I do like some of the designs of the panda and the massive panda near attack at the concert.

Turning Red will not win everyone, and it feels like the film is a step in the right direction…but it also feels like it dives in too hard and loses any sense of subtlety.  While it does also portray different cultures and people, it could also be argued that the plot revolves around stereotypes instead of changing them.  Overall, the movie is fine…but it is not outstanding.  Turning Red was followed by the Toy Story spin-off film Lightyear which was also released in 2022.

Related Links:

The 95th Academy Award Nominations

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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