Time: 100 Minutes
Rosalie Chiang as Meilin “Mei” Lee
Sandra Oh as Ming Lee
Ava Morse as Miriam Mendelsohn
Maitreyi Ramakrishnan as Priya Mangal
Hyein Park as Abby Park
Orion Lee as Jin Lee
Wai Ching Ho as Wu
Tristan Allerick Chen as Tyler Nguyen-Baker
James Hong as Mr. Gao
Director: Domee Shi
A thirteen-year-old girl is torn between staying her mother’s dutiful daughter and the changes of adolescence. And as if the challenges were not enough, whenever she gets overly excited she transforms into a giant red panda.
I remember Turning Red in the lead up to its release. It came out much earlier in 2022, however I just never got around to watching it. After it got nominated for best animated movie, I thought I might as well check it out, and I thought it was good.
Admittedly when the movie started, I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about it; it does have a bit of a rocky opening. From the moment protagonist Mei turns into a red panda however, that’s when it really picked up. There are plenty of animated family dramas and coming of age stories, but something about this movie makes it stand out. There’s something so genuine here; it’s very earnest and is a relatively grounded and smaller movie, with some earned emotion. This is a personal story, with it being inspired by the director’s experiences growing up, and you can really feel that throughout. It balances the humour with the emotions, and it tells its story about growing up very well. It’s also helped by the pitch perfect cast (including Rosalie Chiang and Sandrah Oh) who play their distinct characters very well. The third act does have a very by the numbers and generic climax, but it still has an emotionally satisfying conclusion for the film.
The movie is directed by Domee Shi, who previously directed the animated short film Bao, and her work here is great. The animation is unique and vivid, separating it from other Pixar movies. It’s very detailed and stylistic, with sharp editing, fluid sense of movement, and a constant amount of energy throughout. While much of the climax is generic, it does get particularly visually stunning there.
Turning Red is enjoyable, energetic, genuine, stylistically and gorgeously animated. It was a real shame it wasn’t distributed that well and was dumped onto Disney+, because it would’ve benefited from being shown on the big screen. It’s really well worth checking out.