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Film Review: Pixar’s ‘Turning Red’ is turning boundaries

Pixar’s new animated release Turning Red is quite possibly one of the best films Pixar has released in recent years. Through its unique metaphorical concept, the movie has the ability to be influential and touching. Additionally, Turning Red incorporates an array of essential and relatable messages throughout the film. It’s monumental in the sense that Pixar is finally pushing their boundaries to becoming more relatable to their audiences. 

Taking place in Toronto during the early 2000s, the film follows the coming of age of a Chinese-Canadian girl, Mei Lee (Rosalie Chiang), who is exceedingly ambitious with her schoolwork and her family while going through normal teenage experiences like being a fan of a popular boy band. Her character is simply relatable and absolutely adorable to watch. As the film embodies the maturity of a 13-year-old girl, it’s easy to sympathize with her predicaments and root for her through her journey. 

Her mother, voiced by Sandra Oh, is such a dynamic character as well, guiding her daughter through dilemmas while also being an overprotective mother. The film gives an interesting backstory for the mother, providing more emotion and depth to the overall story. 

All characters in the film are perfectly developed, illustrating many different personalities and attitudes in the film. Mei Lee’s friends are just as adorable as her, and their on-screen appearances are so exciting and charming to watch. 

The overall message of the film is about puberty, shown in the form of the main character’s sudden and uncontrollable transformation into a red panda when she gets emotional. Through her dilemmas, she relies on her mother and her friendships to course her through her struggles of changing and maturing. During the course of becoming a red panda, she starts to use it for better or worse, striking up more conflicts throughout the film. 

While turning into a red panda may seem unique, it’s relatable in the sense that everyone goes through that unexpected and sudden change in their life, hence puberty. Portraying such topics in a form like this is extremely clever and thoughtful, not to mention entirely relatable as well. 

Pixar’s choice to tackle topics that the younger viewers can relate to may have been one of the best decisions the company has made in quite a while. While most films that tackle these topics can seem cringeworthy, this film’s execution is everything but cringeworthy. With topics like puberty, friendships and evolving romantic feelings, the film does not shy away from presenting the topics with exceptional integrity. 

The storyline is fairly in-depth, especially for a children’s movie. Its overall message is undeniably important and fairly executed though it seems to be targeted more towards the preteen audience. It’s quite a major step for Pixar to develop such an intricate film, but quite honestly an important one. 

Turning Red resonates with today’s pre-teen audience while managing to contribute to a timeless topic. Several moments in the film dwell on the young characters evolving their romantic feelings and have crushes, which is quite normal to show in films but is always important nonetheless. 

There are mentions of menstruation and sanitary products, which had many parents of early showings very concerned. In all honesty, Pixar mentioning these perfectly normal occurrences is taking a step further in adapting its content to their young viewers. While some parents may see the film as overtly amorous in some moments, the film isn’t trying to portray puberty as lustful and inappropriate. Instead, the film’s portrayal of puberty is meant to be informative and sincerely engaging to audiences. 

Masterfully, Turning Red is one of the first major films by the company to represent the Asian community in an animated form. The film celebrates the main characters as Chinese-Canadians and their important family heritage. Representation is another wonderful step that Pixar is taking and should be pursued more in future films. Nothing is more important than kids being able to look up to a character that not only goes through what they go through, but also has some physical resemblances. 

The animation is nonetheless some of Pixar’s best work with incredible details on the hair and fur. Several other details, especially some of the cultural settings and areas are designed with such authenticity and complexion. The extreme use of detail gives the film much more complexity and devotion to its character and story, which is a generous achievement for the film. 

Pixar should be taking more opportunities to showcase morality and maturity for their younger audiences since they have such a profuse influence on young minds. Even older audiences can learn a thing or two from this film as well as spare some sentiment. 

As a delight to watch, the film is fast and consistently comedic while containing and perfecting its heartfelt message of what it’s like to grow up. Pixar proves that children’s films can tackle more mature topics while making it seem fun and engaging. As monumental as this film is, it is not only “Turning Red,” it’s turning boundaries.


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