Turning Red is Turning Heads

Written By Elizabeth Funderburk, Staff Writer

Turning Red Displayed on Disney+
Turning Red displayed on Disney+

This review contains spoilers for Turning Red.

Turning Red is an adorable Pixar film centered around a girl who can turn into a red panda, yet it has attracted controversy from many viewers. In my opinion, however, you should ignore the reviews that suggest that Pixar’s Turning Red is too narrow to be relatable or too inappropriate for children because it references girls getting their periods (nothing graphic at all, by the way, just a scene that shows the main character’s mother trying to console her daughter and offering her pads)– and give it a watch: this is a movie that has something for everyone. From an absolutely adorable giant red panda to the power of female friendship to boy band songs written by Billie Eilish and her brother, Finneas O’Connell (who plays Jesse of 4*Town), Pixar’s 25th movie is a hit for the whole family!

The film, set in Toronto in 2002, follows  13-year-old Meilin (“Mei”) Lee as she is torn between fitting her mother’s image of a “perfect daughter” and having fun with her friends as they obsess over the boy band 4*Town, hoping to go to the band’s upcoming concert. On top of all of this, she discovers that she spontaneously turns into a giant red panda when she feels overly emotional, as a result of a blessing (or curse, depending on how you look at it) from her family’s ancestors. There is a cure, however: on the night of a red moon, a ceremony must be performed by the family that will trap the panda and prevent it from coming out. Unfortunately for Mei, the next red moon is on the same night as the 4*Town concert in Toronto. Hilarity ensues as Mei adjusts to her changing body (as in, literally changing, from human to panda and back again), navigates 8th grade with her friends, and crushes on the members of her favorite boy band. Along the way, she learns that she can be a good daughter and spend time with her family while also making time for fun with friends and self-discovery.

As I watched the movie, I couldn’t help but think of my own adolescence. Although I  never turned into a giant red panda, I saw parts of myself in Mei. I too, wanted to feel more independent from my family, worried about what my peers thought of how I looked, and tried to hide parts of myself I didn’t want seen. As much as I enjoy Toy Story or Cars, I certainly can’t say that their characters are anything like me. Mei, on the other hand, is a girl entering her teenage years; I’m a girl leaving hers behind. But I’m not so old that I can’t remember what it feels like to be 13, in all its messy, emotional, cringe-worthy glory.

Turning Red is currently available to watch on Disney+.

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