Mei Lee is a 13-year-old girl who is torn between being her mother’s obedient daughter and the chaos of her youth. As if that were not enough, when she gets too excited, she turns into a big red panda.
Turning Red has some surprisingly mature undertones but manages to be witty and charming in its execution just enough to please youngsters, as all Pixar’s films find the balance to do. Director Domee Shi gives the film imaginative visuals and unique use of culture for an animated film. Rosalie Chiang shies in her first ever voice performance as Mei, and Sandra Oh proves herself a fantastic voice actress as her mother Ming, who embodies the mother who expects big things of her daughter but forgets to let her live a life of her own, which may be exactly what her character did in another Disney movie, Raya and the Last Dragon. The movie portrays youth in a lively way that involves the frights of adolescence, and the journeys of growing up with your friends and being obsessed with boy bands with them, for some. This leads to a lot of charm from the youthful side of the film, as well some some wit in the execution and the way the music ties into the film’s mood. Ludwig Goransson of Black Panther, Creed and Tenet fame again proves himself one of the most exciting film composers, and Billie Eilish and Finneas contribute to the lyrics of the fictional boy band 4*Town’s songs. This coming-of-age fantasy comedy doesn’t rank among Pixar’s stronger works but it proves that they’re still at the top of their game with new ways to bring sweet, relatable themes to the screen, in this case about loving your family while staying true to yourself, and embracing your flaws whether that be anxiety or rebelliousness.