The brilliance of Pixar’s “Turning Red” lies in the hands (or paws) of the protagonist Meilin Lee. The 13 year old girl is one of the best protagonists we’ve seen on screen in a long time. She succeeds because she’s more than a caricature. Director / writer Domee Shi has infused the character with life (often drawing from her own experiences).
Everything feels authentic for Meilin – from her friendships with her pack of BFFs, to her complicated relationship with her family, to dealing with antagonists at school. The most exaggerated part of the film is of course the fact that when she gets over emotional she turns into a giant red panda…
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“Turning Red” and Getting It Right
Moments in “Turning Red” feel real, as they so accurately capture the roller coaster of emotions that can be puberty. We so rarely get to see such a genuine expression of what growing up at that age can be like. Even more rare is seeing it through the lens of a female protagonist who is so well rounded. While she may be animated it felt like watching Meilin felt like watching an actual reflection of ourselves on screen.
It’s a real treat to get to witness a film like this come out. It’ll serve as an amazing touchpoint for younger audiences when it comes to the little discussed aspects of puberty. For older audiences it will hit some folks right in the nostalgia bones. Even older viewers will have plenty to recognize as well – and who knows maybe it’ll even help connect generations.
The animation style is something fun and new from Pixar. It draws its influences from Japanese animations like “Sailor Moon” fused with the zaniness of Tex Avery. The music from Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell does a spectacular job of capturing the boy band laden sounds of the 90s. The voice work of Sandra Oh, Rosaline Chiang, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, James Hong, Wai Ching Ho, Addie Chandler, and Jordan Fisher is superb.
We couldn’t recommend “Turning Red” more highly. It’s available streaming on Disney+ starting March 11th, 2022.