Review: Turning Red
While some Christians may take issue with its themes, Pixar’s latest effort gives audiences a lot to think about.
From undersea worlds to monster workplaces to the inner sanctuary of human emotions, Pixar has taken audiences to faraway places to tell stories about human experiences. Their latest movie turn redlooks at adolescence, puberty and family relationships.
turn red is the story of Mei, a young Chinese-Canadian girl who lives in Toronto. Mei wants nothing more than to attend her first concert with her closest friends, but risks offending her mother who doesn’t want her to go. All of this is complicated by the fact that Mei discovers that she has a family curse (or possibly a gift) and will turn into a giant red panda at times when she experiences strong emotions.
Do not run away from adolescent clumsiness, turn red is charming in its frankness. As the first Pixar film directed by a woman and with a strong Chinese representation (the character’s parents maintain a local Buddhist temple), the film is unique, but has strong themes that a wider audience can appreciate.
Once again, Pixar has outdone itself with turn redthe visuals. The film captures the setting of Toronto in a unique way, showing the city skyline, city cars and sights like the Skydome. Setting the film in 2002 means it offers conscious nostalgia, with nods to the fashions, technology and features of the time. There are some anachronistic parts of the film’s dialogue, but these may be necessary to play to the younger part of its audience.
Perhaps predictable, turn redThe puberty and period references (along with its treatment of parenthood and religious themes), made the film something of a target in a culture war. As Aja Romano writes for Voicehowever, some of the debates on the film’s themes tell more about the people debating:
…It could be a sign of the peculiarity turn red is that it attracts the kind of reviews that aren’t controversies at all, but rather bewildering, individualized emotional outbursts in response to a movie that disobeys expected rules of what it’s supposed to be.
Mei and her friends are loving, unapologetic fans who don’t have to overcome their stupid passions to find self-acceptance and social acceptance. Mei is not the stereotypical “devoted Asian child”, and her mother is not the overbearing “tiger mom”. turn red gives us a parent figure who doesn’t have an easy path to self-acceptance and doesn’t have all the answers, but ultimately recognizes that parenting is more important than a leader. team than like a tyrant.
Perhaps that’s the real offense of the film: it offers lessons for parents, as well as their children. Your willingness to listen can make all the difference whether it leaves you embracing its idiosyncrasies or…turning red.
Although there may be aspects with which Christians disagree turn redof worldview (like praying to ancestors), the story has a lot to say about honoring yourself while honoring your parents, the tension between staying true to tradition and new circumstances, and family ties. Parents would do well to show the film to their children, but be prepared to sit down and talk to them about these themes afterwards.
Become red | Official trailer – YouTube
Turning Red is now streaming on Disney Plus