Pixar’s Brilliantly Creative Exploration of Puberty



Turning Red takes a transformational moment for girls into a hilarious and brilliantly creative exploration of adolescence. The film uses a family’s greatest secret as an ingenious allegory for reaching puberty. Getting your first period should not be an embarrassing or taboo subject for discussion. Growing up is a whirlwind of physical and emotional changes. Turning Red embraces that awkwardness with CGI humor and heart. Pixar continues to be groundbreaking.

Turning Red is set in 2002 Toronto, Canada. Meilin “Mei” Lee (Rosalie Chiang) is a thirteen-year-old girl who thinks she’s got everything figured out. If only her mother, Ming (Sandra Oh), wasn’t so strict and demanding. Mei has to hide her true feelings. She’s madly in love with Devon (Addie Chandler), the cute cashier at the local pharmacy. She’s also desperate to see the boy band 4-Town with her goofy best friends (Ava Morse, Hyein Park, and Maitreyi Ramakrishnan).

MOVIEWEB VIDEO OF THE DAY

Mei’s family runs a temple that gives tours about their ancestors. The red panda is their spirit animal. A spectacularly humiliating incident causes Mei to panic. The flood of emotions leads to a shocking surprise. Mei turns into a big red panda when she’s agitated. What initially seems like a curse becomes a source of strength. But Mei’s newfound confidence does not sit well with her protective mother.

Turning Red And Themes

Turning Red tackles many themes with a deft touch. Mei’s Chinese heritage plays a big part of her life. She has nothing but respect for her elders. The problem is that her mother views other influences as corrupting. Ming’s efforts to control every aspect of her daughter’s life results in more rebellious behavior. They see the red panda in different ways. Letting go and allowing a child to find themselves is terrifying for a parent. Ming also matures with Mei on her journey. These scenes are superbly written.

Director/co-writer Domee Shi, who won an Oscar for her 2018 short “Bao”, is exceptional in her feature debut. Mei and her besties are knockdown funny nerds. Their 4-Town concert schemes are a laugh riot. Shi nails the silly antics of obsessed teens. She captures the innocent sweetness of being young and having your first real crush. Her greatest accomplishment is referring to menstruation without any character speaking directly about it. It’s handled with visual cues and slapstick comedy. This is a fantastic way to deliver a straightforward message to younger audiences. More than half of the population have periods. There is no shame to a biological fact of life.

Turning Red has wonderful animation. Anime elements are used at certain times to evoke specific responses. Mei and her friends get googly eyes every time they banter about boys. Domee Shi also uses hard cuts when Mei gets mischievous. These scenes are markedly different from the red panda action. It’s a dynamic use of style that gives the film an original and captivating look.

Pixar thankfully keeps Turning Red lighthearted throughout. You won’t be bawling buckets like Up and Inside Out. Turning Red is an absolute joy to behold. I can’t think of a children’s or family film that handles puberty this cleverly.

Turning Red is a production of Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures. It will be available to stream on March 11th on Disney+.

The Batman’s Paul Dano Makes Surprise Appearance in SNL Sketch with Zoe Kravitz

Read Next

About The Author

Julian Roman
(1477 Articles Published)

Julian Roman has been with Movieweb for nearly twenty years. An avid film buff, he feels lucky to have interviewed and written extensively about Hollywood’s greatest talents. In his spare time he plays guitar, treasures good company, and always seeks new adventures.

More
From Julian Roman

You can view the original article HERE.

The People Who Never Stopped Loving Tenet | Features
More Commentary Than Comedy, But Still Funny
Madame Web Star Dakota Johnson Might Watch the Highly Criticized Movie “Someday”
Berlin Film Festival 2024: Dahomey, My Favorite Cake, A Traveler’s Needs | Festivals & Awards
Beyonce Has a Number 1 Country Song! Certain Dudes Are MAD
Elizabeth Warren says The Rock would be in her dream blunt rotation
Bong Joon-ho’s ‘Mickey 17’ lands 2025 release date
‘Helldivers 2’ success leads to ‘Starship Troopers’ resurgence
Resident Alien Season 3 Episode 2 Review: The Upper Hand
Blade Runner 2099 Series Back on Track Following Production Delays
Good Trouble Season 5 Episode 18 Review: All These Engagements
Ewan McGregor & Charley Boorman Now Making Another Motorcycle Series
Steph ‘100%’ thinks he, Klay, Draymond will end careers with Warriors
2 adults charged with murder in Chiefs parade shooting
Report: Vikings unwilling to give Cousins fully guaranteed contract
Lerner says Nationals no longer for sale
Tell Me Más: Meet Puerto Rican Indie Artist Neysa Blay
‘Home Alone’ Star Devin Ratray Pleads Guilty in Domestic Violence Case
Unpacking the Child Abuse Case Against YouTube Influencer Ruby Franke
Beyoncé’s Country Music Celebrated By Black Women Artists
Stella Maxwell & Alexander Skarsgård Front Mackage Campaign
Ubah Hassan Helps Talbots Kick Off Its 10th Partnership With Dress For Success
Gucci Meatpacking Store Targeted By Thieves, Beyoncé’s Brand Is Here
Why Ambra Is One Of NYC’s Hottest Reservations