Turning Red (2022)
Directed by Domee Shi
Starring: Rosalie Chiang, Sandra Oh, Ava Morse, Hyein Park, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Orion Lee, Wai Ching Ho, Tristan Allerick Chen, James Hong
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A 13-year-old girl named Meilin turns into a giant red panda whenever she gets too excited.
First of all, here’s my updated ranking of all the Pixar movies (other than Cars 3, which I never saw):
23. Cars 2
22. The Good Dinosaur
20. Turning Red
18. Incredibles 2
17. Finding Dory
16. Monsters University
14. Toy Story 4
11. A Bug’s Life
9. The Incredibles
7. Toy Story 3
6. Toy Story 2
5. Inside Out
4. Finding Nemo
3. Toy Story
2. Monsters, Inc.
At least Turning Red was slightly better than Luca, I guess?
I adore Pixar. For many years, they could do no wrong. I still can’t exactly say anything too bad since, come on – those top five films I’ve listed are amazing. Damn near masterpieces & better than most non-animated films from recent years. So they were going to have some not so great ones eventually. It’s just too bad that 3 out of the last 4 releases were duds (in my opinion). And the other one was just meh. And the two before those were okay but just sequels yet again. I guess the best most current AND original film they did was Coco, although it’s not a personal favorite. Last one I loved was Inside Out in 2015 (also a coming of age film like Turning Red but a far better example of that genre). So I’m ready for another new Pixar masterpiece to blow me away! I wonder if we’ll ever get another one like that.
Anyway. Turning Red. Hmm. I see there’s controversy online as some dude said he couldn’t relate to this movie or something like that. Or that it didn’t represent him? I don’t know. I didn’t read what he wrote so can’t comment beyond saying that I, as a female, couldn’t fully relate to it either so I hope I’m okay to say that (but that was mostly due to the awful character of the mother in this, which I’ll get to later). I’d say that this movie is much more aimed at girls so I wouldn’t expect most adult males to “relate” to it fully anyway. But they should still be able to appreciate art not aimed directly at them, especially if they’re film critics? With every movie, I like seeing different perspectives and stories and like loads of films where I don’t see myself represented on screen at all so it was kind of a stupid statement. I mean, come on – my favorite coming of age film happens to have no girls in it! And my favorite Pixar movie is about a lonely little post-apocalyptic robot. I love it despite not being a robot. Although things do feel a little post-apocalyptic these days…
I think the issue with Turning Red is that it’s just not that great. At least, it’s not up to all of our probably far too high Pixar standards. To be fair, it’s as good as anything put out by the likes of most other animation studios, such as DreamWorks. It’s not an awful film but, with that Pixar label, it unfortunately has a lot to live up to. I just feel like no one is allowed to say a movie isn’t all that great now. I’m very happy that Domee Shi got to make this film as I of course want to see more women getting equal opportunities in filmmaking. Also, I’m a very big fan of her short Bao. It probably helps that my daughter was completely obsessed with Bao for quite a while, so I’ve seen it many times. I think it’s a fantastic (and bold) short & I could really relate to the whole overprotective mother thing in it. So I was really looking forward to seeing what she’d do with a full-length film.
I think what I found most disappointing in this film was the mother, especially after finding I could relate to the mother in Bao. Believe me, I think I have many flaws as a parent but this character made me look amazing. It may have been a very long time ago but I remember my early teens like yesterday & just how easily you could end up devastatingly embarrassed by some minor thing and oh my god just want to DIE from the embarrassment. Don’t embarrass a teen girl! It’s traumatic. They’ll remember it for life. So, honestly, I don’t think any mother in her right mind would show up at her daughter’s co-ed school waving sanitary products around (sorry, small spoiler!). Good Lord – I could almost die of embarrassment just imagining that happening to me at 13. Ugh! So with that & one other incident with the mother, I found her far too over-the-top. Does anyone have a mother like that?? Maybe. Maybe I was just lucky to have a good relationship with my mom so that’s why I didn’t relate to that relationship in this film.
I feel like I’m going to end up rambling too much as I’m still trying to sort my thoughts out on this film. I think I’m wanting to talk myself into liking it more than I did. There were some things I liked. The main girl was fairly likeable. I think it’s unfortunately too easy to make girls of this age too annoying in movies, which isn’t really fair or realistic. She had a lot of emotions in this without being overly obnoxious. I also liked her group of nerdy, quirky friends. It’s always good to see a nice group of female friends in movies as I wanted that SO bad at that age (my girl friends at that age were back-stabbing bitches so I didn’t luck out in that department). Also, I liked the red panda. Who doesn’t like a red panda?? So those scenes were fun. Oh, and the animation was good. As to be expected with Pixar.
I think the point of the story was just too muddled. The girls in this family turn into red pandas when they come of age & get too emotional? Why didn’t the mother prepare her daughter for that? Oh! I just realised she’s almost as bad as Carrie White’s mother in Carrie! Well, look how THAT ended up. This movie needed some telekinetic carnage! You should prepare your daughters for the trauma of puberty. I won’t go too into the plot & how this ends but I just found it messy & didn’t fully see the point it was trying to make. To just accept what you can’t control? To be yourself? Embrace your period, maybe! Speaking of which, I suppose I should add this film to My Top Ten Period Dramas (yes, that kind of period and, yes, Carrie is number one on the list). And this is a small complaint but the obsession with the boy band was boring but, hey, I admit that I’ve never liked boy bands & can’t relate to girls who get all weird over them & their boring songs. I suppose some girls can relate to that, though. Most of all, I’ll say this: I’m old. No, this isn’t aimed at my age. But neither was Inside Out & I loved it & thought it was brilliant. My daughter, though, is the exact age of the girl in Turning Red & she really disliked the movie (maybe it’s because she hates boy bands too?!). 😉 But she adores Inside Out. And Bao. The person who liked this movie the most in our family was actually my hubby. So much for that one dude’s opinion that got trashed on Twitter! So I guess this movie just doesn’t work for some people & it has nothing to do with being “represented”. (FYI: Hubby even said this was much better than Encanto to which my daughter & I said NO WAY).
But I always say I prefer a divisive film to a boring one, so Turning Red fits that category and I do appreciate Domee Shi letting the story go pretty crazy at the end. Maybe I can talk myself into liking this but I have no desire to rewatch it again anytime soon.
My Rating: 6/10