Turning Red Review


Photo courtesy of Disney+

“All my life I’ve been her perfect little Mei-Mei …  but what if I like this new me?” 

This token quote from “Turning Red” describes a pivotal point in Pixar’s 25th animated film, in which the main character must decide whether to follow in the footsteps of her parents or forge her own path. This newest addition to Pixar’s repertoire —  which aired on Disney+ on March 11 — stars Meilin, a 13-year-old perfectionist. 

With her three best friends by her side, Meilin is ready for anything eight grade throws at her … that is, until she is not. An unfortunate family quirk leaves her cowering in the bathroom after she has turned into an enormous red panda, a transformation that occurs whenever her emotions get the best of her. This transformation throws off all her plans for acing her last year of middle school and prevents her from meeting the expectations her mom places on her. It is a perfect metaphor for the teenage years — a period of time that sometimes feels like an endless cycle of one crisis after another.

Many movies have been created to describe teenagehood, but Pixar’s animated coming-of-age film is like no other. “Turning Red” explores the sometimes uncomfortable topics that populate one’s transition into adulthood, and further addresses the cultural and family pressures many adolescents have to face. Meilin and her friends are some of Pixar’s joyously imperfect characters, leaving viewers in stitches.

Overwhelmed by the struggle of controlling her emotions, Meilin loses  her focus in school as she waits anxiously for the blood moon, which is when she can dispel her panda spirit and become ‘herself’ again. To top it off, her favorite boy band is in town, unfortunately, the concert is the same day as the blood moon. Meilin must make an impossible choice: staying the perfect daughter in her family’s eyes and performing the blood moon ceremony, banishing her panda spirit, or doing what her heart desires and keeping her panda, all while keeping her emotions in check. 

Overall, “Turning Red” is a delightful coming-of-age film about self-discovery that perfectly addresses the trials and tribulations that are all too common during a teen girl’s adolescence.  As the film’s protagonist tries, fails and tries again to accomplish her goals, she explores what it truly means to be independent.