Review On ‘Turning Red’


Sherly Chamorro, Staff Writer

     Pixar’s Animation Studios have done it again. They’ve created a movie that really captured the essence of what it’s really like to live as a Chinese-Canadian child of an immigrant. They showed the struggles, the highs, and lows, of there being a cultural expectation to achieve good grades and to be the perfect daughter. 

  Turning Red encapsulated the day-to-day lifestyle of Chinese-Canadian, Mei Lee. 13-year-old Mei Lee, takes care of her family’s temples. Her overprotective mother puts a lot of pressure on her to be the perfect daughter. One day, Lee gets a nightmare about red pandas, and the next day when she wakes up she realized that she had converted into a red panda overnight. Frightened, Lee hides from her mother. 

  She soon realizes that her emotions are connected to this transformation from animal to human, but when she changes into a human her hair becomes a red-orange color to symbolize the panda within her. Her mother informs her about this power, she says that this transformation was due to the fact that their ancestor Sun Yee, cursed their entire generation to transform into red pandas for protection. 

  Mei Lee becomes very distraught because her parents kept this secret from her. Toward the end of the movie,  Mei’s grandmother and her aunts come into town for the ritual to get rid of the panda. When the panda starts to leave Mei’s body, she becomes hesitant and decides that she wants to keep her power.  Mei and her mom argue about the limit of independence that Mei has. Mei accidentally knocks out her mother, leaving her mom unconscious. Mei’s grandmother and her aunt become red pandas to drag mei’s mother into the ritual circle, and at this time mei’s mother is a red panda. In order for her mother to transform back into a human they start doing the ritual,  in this ritual, they have to sing in order to complete the ritual. At the end of the movie, Mei and her mother’s relationship has improved so much, compared to their relationship in the beginning. 

    I enjoyed this film. This film was also way funnier than I expected and they did a great job at being a parody of the early 2000s for there were many throwbacks to that time. 

 They mentioned Tamagotchis, flip phones/and the Nokia brick phone, and boybands.  This film is a good coming-of-age story as it teaches both mei and the audience to accept every part of themselves. There is a lot of controversy surrounding the scenes in this movie. This movie makes references to puberty in girls. experts say the real issue is not talking about periods at all as well as the social stigma. 

  Director Domee Shi and co-writer Julia Cho have devised an effective metaphor to express the confusing experience of becoming a teenager and the changes that occur in one’s body. I applaud this because it is very subtle but it tackles the taboo subject of puberty and the problems that come with being a pre-teen in today’s world. This is the most mature movie that Pixar has made, with references to puberty and its challenges. 

   Furthermore, I applaud the makers of this movie because not only did they show us the relationship between mei and her mother, but they show us the character development within mei and her mother’s relationship.  There aren’t many movies about school-aged kids and even fewer that show young Chinese girls. The majority of children’s films are aimed at extremely young children and do not include any references to puberty. Turning Red is a unique look at what it’s like to be a young girl and how our experiences build who we are. Overall I believe that Turning Red is full of significant lessons that everyone, regardless of gender or race, should hear.