Turning Red

I think that everyone knows that those early teen years were…confusing…to say the least. Everyone has had their own traumatizing experiences from that time (whether you choose to remember them or not). However, there is a sense of comfort knowing that we all went through it and somehow made it out alive.

"Do not sleep on this one. Everyone will find something to enjoy in it. And above all: EMBRACE YOUR PANDA!"

Some films have been close, but very few in the past have really been able to accurately capture the essence of those times. Bo Burnham’s 2018 directorial debut, Eighth Grade, did a magnificent job – so much so that some scenes border on being too hard to watch due to how painfully accurate and relatable they are. And in the mainstream animation realm, the only movie that even come close that caliber would be Pixar’s own Inside Out, which only scratched the surface. After directing her first short for Pixar in 2018 with Bao, Domee Shi’s feature debut, Turning Red brings all of the crazy, awkward, confusing, heartwarming, and amazing things about being thirteen to the forefront in this fun and honest coming-of-age movie.

Meilin "Mei" Lee (Rosalie Chiang) is thirteen-years-old. She’s an overachiever. Great grades, great daughter, has a great group of friends (who are all obsessed with the boyband 4*Town), and has a great attitude about everything. But of course, that all changes when, one day, she...turns into a giant red panda. To make matters worse, after having the initial panic about it, Mei’s overprotective mother, Ming Lee (Sandra Oh) reveals that this…inconvenience, runs in the family. But there is a ritual that will rid Mei of the panda, and until that night, Mei must avoid having any strong feelings, otherwise the panda will come out! The only problem is that Mei and her friends actually like the panda. Should Mei hide the panda or embrace the panda?Turning Red

Turning Red is a very fun movie with a whole lot of heart. It captures everything about the awkwardness of pubescent years in both a hilarious and sincere fashion, while also highlighting the complicated nature of family and friendship. The pressure that Mei feels by wanting to continue to make her mother proud but also wanting to enjoy things that a thirteen-year-old enjoys (like bad, catchy pop music) is a dynamic that will resonate with viewers of all ages. The level of relatability in this film is so strong, and one of the things that makes this film work so well. Especially for any girl or woman out there, at some point, they will be able to recognize themselves in Mei’s embarrassing and wonderful moments.

And of course, in true Pixar fashion, there are some moments and jokes that will completely go over many kids’ heads, like when Mei runs by the corner store while full-panda, and involuntarily shouts “AWOOOGA!” upon seeing the cashier she has a crush on. Moments like this make the movie that much more enjoyable and extremely clever.

Do not sleep on this one. Everyone will find something to enjoy in it. And above all: EMBRACE YOUR PANDA!

Turning Red is now streaming on Disney+.

4/5 stars


Film Details

Turning Red

MPAA Rating: Rated PG for thematic material, suggestive content and language.
110 mins
: Domee Shi
Domee Shi
Rosalie Chiang; Sandra Oh; Ava Morse
: Comedy | Animated
Growing Up is a Beast.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Stripper music?... What's wrong with that?"
Theatrical Distributor:
Disney/Buena Vista
Official Site: https://movies.disney.com/turning-red
Release Date:
March 11, 2022 (internet)
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:

Synopsis: Disney and Pixar’s “Turning Red” introduces Mei Lee (voice of Rosalie Chiang), a confident, dorky 13-year-old torn between staying her mother’s dutiful daughter and the chaos of adolescence. Her protective, if not slightly overbearing mother, Ming (voice of Sandra Oh), is never far from her daughter—an unfortunate reality for the teenager. And as if changes to her interests, relationships and body weren’t enough, whenever she gets too excited (which is practically ALWAYS), she “poofs” into a giant red panda!


Turning Red