Movie Review: “Turning Red”


The Catalyst / Disney

The official “Turning Red” poster features Mei in red panda form.

Pixar’s newest film, “Turning Red”, made its debut on Disney Plus on March 11. Originally, the movie was supposed to be released into theaters, but for financial reasons, Disney decided to make “Turning Red” exclusively available on their streaming service.

The movie’s star is 13 year old Chinese-Canadian Mei Lee. She, along with her mother and father, lives in a red-panda temple, which they open up to tourists after Mei finishes school each day. One morning, Mei wakes up to find that she has transformed into a 9 foot tall red panda. She soon finds out that becoming a red panda is part of a curse that has been passed down through her mother’s family for centuries.

Mei was voiced by Rosalie Chiang, a 16 year old beginning her acting career. The voice cast also features Maitreyi Ramakrishnan from “Never Have I Ever”, “Grey’s Anatomy” star Sandra Miju Reys and songwriter FINNEAS. The movie was especially groundbreaking due to the work from Domee Shi, the director of“Turning Red” and the first woman to solely direct a Pixar movie.

Like most Disney movies, different scenes and characters resonate with different age groups, so there is something for everyone. The movie was creative and entertaining, and features a demographic that has been left out of many children’s movies until recently. It did well among critics as well, with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 95% The unique characters and concepts stand out.

Turning Red focuses on themes like difficult parents and the clash between family tradition and fitting in at school. Mei struggles with deciding between pleasing and fitting in with her friends and staying loyal to her loving but controlling mother. Living in a Chinese-Canadian family that runs a temple does pose some challenges. The movie highlights a struggle that children in ethnically diverse households face, a theme that is represented through Mei’s red panda and various scheduling conflicts that come front and center during the movie.

“In Turning Red, it’s kind of like her Chinese heritage is her character, and I think part of the metaphor in the movie is her moving past that,” said Senior Brooke Horvai. “But just in general, I want to see Disney and animation studios in general producing movies with POC characters where their ethnicity is not their defining feature”