Turning Red is the new movie from Pixar Animation Studios for the streaming platform, Disney Plus, directed by someone who contributed to films like Inside Out, Soul and Luca, yes, I’m talking about Domee Shi. You may also know her from her short film called Bao from 2018. This queen is creating wonders. The film premiered one week ago, on March 11, to be precise and from what I’ve seen on social networks, it left everyone enchanted and fascinated. I include myself in this chat. Such a great option for the weekend.
The creation of Domee Shi, tells the story of a little but big girl named Mei Lee, who at 13 years old, claims to have everything under control; school, friends, scores, relationship with her parents, her likes, and we could even say that she has a vision for the future. Isn’t it too much for her? Of course it is. Let’s add the fact that she is in that stage of life where rebellion is present, plus menstruation, platonic love, wanting to do many things and on the other hand, maintaining the position to honor her parents. I think you can feel identified or maybe a memory came to your mind, right? Well, this is the journey that our protagonist goes though throughout the film. Not to spoil too much, I will say that there comes a point where due to so much pressure, emotions surround and dominate her giving way to that iconic, cute, furry, fluffy red panda, who takes over Mei’s physical appearance. What at first seems to be a tragedy or misfortune, becomes an important part of her life, teaching her to love herself, to accept herself, not to hide her emotions, but at the same time to mature, to learn that there may be many things in our lives, but our priority must always be our happiness and that changes are always for the better.
Let’s start this review by making it clear from the start that this is one of the best Pixar movies in a long time. It’s true that the film studio has been changing over the years, it’s been improving, but this film is something different and I hope I am not the only one who sees it that way. It’s super fresh, current, free, without taboos, different and therefore unique. The first thing that caught my attention was the style, the animation, the colors. I think at first I felt a bit uneasy in the good sense of the word. It wasn’t a product that screamed “I was made by Pixar!”, no, not at all. It was something innovative and left me delighted and wanting to know what the process was like to create those scenarios. On the other hand, when I say without taboos, I imagine that scene where the mother of our protagonist takes out some sanitary napkins and the topic of menstruation is discussed with complete naturalness and the way in which Mei experienced her first crush gracefully also gives extra points to the new instalment of Pixar.
Another highlight is the fact that they showed the diversity, the perfect imperfections of each character, showing us a much more real world. We can see it throughout the movie, but I think the best example for this is Mei’s group of friends. Each one of them has a different personality, I think we have never seen such a divine quartet in which we could feel so identified and at the same time, think or remember the old days at school. I absolutely loved this, but the message that they represented is something that needs to be addressed as well. Those who are your true friends, will always be and will accept every part of you, both internal and external because they know that the most valuable thing is who you are and not how you look. It’s so nice that they rescued these aspects and that children can see it now and realize that there is nothing wrong with them, that there will always be changes, but you will always have that love and unconditional support from your dearest ones. Undoubtedly, the perfect movie for the little ones in the house.
One last thing I would like to comment on is the fact that the director, Domee Shi, intertwined her life or experience as a foreigner with the protagonist, capturing certain aspects or characteristics of Asian culture in the city which the story takes place, that is, Toronto, Canada. These are details that, in my opinion, help to work more on the way you want to tell the story and the intention you want to have with the message since they are worked from an experience already lived by nothing more and nothing less than the director. You can find all this and much more in “Embrace The Panda: Making Turning Red” which is like a documentary where you go into the creation or process of the film, what it was based on, and what the visions of Domee Shi are, and how together with three other wonderful women (Rona Liu, Danielle Feinberg and Lindsay Collins) managed to bring us this masterpiece. I quite liked how they worked, even in the pandemic, in such a natural, fluid way, leaving aside all the stress that comes with producing a film. So it’s true that when you have a team that is supportive, creative and willing to give everything by your side, the result will always be incredible.
Facts: The songs we heard were composed by Billie Eilish and her brother, Finneas O’Connell and the voice of Mei Lee’s mother, was in charge of Sandra Oh.
So, Turning Red is that kind of movie that you can see with whoever at whatever age. In any case, it will teach you. It’s okay to feel, it’s okay to change, it’s okay to be angry, it’s okay to be happy, it’s okay to be you and never hold back your emotions. With that message, I stay and share it with you. I hope you’re already making space in your agenda for this film of one hour and forty minutes. Believe me it’s all worth it. Turning Red, now available on Disney +