Quick Reviews: Turning Red

Turning Red is the latest Pixar movie to hit Disney+ this Spring. It tells the tale of Mei Lee, a Chinese Canadian living in the year 2002.

Mei is now 13 years-old and wants to be treated as her own woman and doesn’t want to live her life based on what her mother wants. However, when an old family tradition changes Mei’s view of herself and the world around her, will she still be the same person she was before?

Turning Red to me was a mixed bag, it had some beautiful animation and great songs, but the story wasn’t there for me.

We’re thrusted into this world via narration from Mei, explaining what her family does and how some kids have to do everything their parents say.

Introductions to side characters like Mei’s friends are flashy and remind me of how the individual Spider-People were introduced in Into the Spiderverse.

To say it was set in 2002, you wouldn’t really get that feeling except for the emphasis on Tamagotchi and the rip-off Backstreet Boys style boyband.

As I briefly mentioned, the story wasn’t as strong for me. The tradition of turning into a red panda felt like it was rushed together and somewhat pulled me out of the scene. There was never any set up for it, all we knew was that Mei’s relative, who they pray to, had a great relationship with red pandas.

I also feel like the red panda side of Mei should have shown more aggressive moments like the scene at the house party, it showed that there was a danger to this side of her that was similarly seen with her mother.

Yet, we only see the house party scene as the extreme part and just smaller outbreaks where Mei speaks her mind.

I think seeing Mei get taken over by the anger and aggression would have made a great third act, with her mother relating to it and trying to comfort her in the spiritual realm. Then Mei would have to fight this aggression to keep the good.

Like her anger doesn’t control her, as we see even before her panda-isation, that she does hold a lot of anger in everyday life.

I also don’t necessary like how horny this movie is, there’s a lot of butts being thrown at the camera as well as a lot of sexualisation of characters. But knowing they’re 13 and still children feels weird to watch.

I know why they did this, it’s because as the audience you’re meant to relate and know you were similar. But again, knowing they’re children just makes me feel weird.

Also calling your main character a “Pervert”, felt a little odd too.

They also rely on this butt gag throughout the movie, even using it as a prominent part of the ending. I really despise the ending of this movie, at first it felt strong but the moment you see a red panda shaking it’s ass at a giant red panda, it loses all seriousness and momentum.

I wish they didn’t include that and swapped it with something that held more of an emotional impact, because as it stands, I didn’t feel anything for this movie.

Usually with a Pixar movie I cry at some point during the movie, with Turning Red I didn’t. I didn’t feel any emotional impact but that could just be me, I didn’t relate to everything in this movie so maybe that’s why I don’t feel any great emotional trauma because of it.

Each to their own, I suppose.

One thing I do love about this movie is the animation, I had no doubts that it would look bad: especially with Pixar’s track record.

I love how emotive the characters are, their designs allow for so many expressions it's so cartoony yet real. It took me a few minutes to get used to the style, as movements and scenes are so fast paced, but it’s very easy to fall in love with it.

The comedy was decent, I wasn’t laughing for the entirety of the film but there were some good gags every once in a while.

I also greatly enjoy the boyband’s song, which seems to be the only song that band made considering we never hear them sing anything different.

Overall, it’s not my favourite Pixar movie ever made but it isn’t the worst, that spot will always belong to Cars 2.

I like to think there’s always something someone can relate to in a movie, no matter what it is. And I think that’s the case here, there’s something for everyone to relate to and that’s worth giving it a watch.

Turning Red gets 3 out of 5 red pandas from me.

Turning Red is streaming on Disney+.

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