Turning Red (2022) Review

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.

My Opinion:

First of all, here’s my updated ranking of all the Pixar movies (other than Cars 3, which I never saw):

24. Luca
23. Cars 2
22. The Good Dinosaur
21. Onward
20. Turning Red
19. Cars
18. Incredibles 2
17. Finding Dory
16. Monsters University
15. Soul
14. Toy Story 4
13. Coco
12. Ratatouille
11. A Bug’s Life
10. Brave
9. The Incredibles
8. Up
7. Toy Story 3
6. Toy Story 2
5. Inside Out
4. Finding Nemo
3. Toy Story
2. Monsters, Inc.
1. WALL-E

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

My Top Ten Period Dramas 

Yeah, you know I’m not talking about movies like Pride & Prejudice. No way! I’m talking about movies like Carrie. I’m talking about menstruation. Yep!

This is a Top Ten list I’ve been planning on posting for ages but it just never seemed the right time (of month! HA!). I was partly inspired to finally put this post together thanks to Deadpool having a JUDY BLUME joke in it! I know I was the only old American chick at the showing I went to so I was the only one who got the joke when Deadpool was bleeding all over the place & said “Are you there, God? It’s me, Margaret!”. That joke is still cracking me up. I’m so old school…

It was hard to know what order to put these in but I’ve basically ranked them according to how good/funny/memorable/graphic the movie’s period scene was. I’ve already given away my number one in that first picture but, seriously, what movie other than Carrie could EVER top the Period Movie List? 😉

So here we go! Here are My Top Ten Period (as in, Menstruating) Movie Moments:

10. Pretty In Pink

Okay, so this is the “least period-y” period moment but it’s a cute one. Duckie was so adorable. And I really didn’t want to include something like Superbad in the ten as I find that period scene pretty ridiculous (I’ve included it with some honorable mentions at the end).

9. The Blue Lagoon

Yes, The Blue Lagoon is an absolutely dreadful movie! But at least it’s realistic, I suppose, that Brooke Shields would freak out over her first period since she’s growing up without any adults & has no idea what’s happening to her. Imagine how scary that would be! I’m sure that some girls these days are still not told anything about periods before they start them and that just seems really cruel…

8. A Tale Of Two Sisters

This is a really good South Korean horror (remade by Hollywood as The Uninvited) and I’m pretty sure that the scene in which the younger sister gets her period is symbolic of… Something. But the movie was pretty confusing overall, so, I don’t know. But I’m pretty sure the period scene had some sort of important significance as to what’s actually going on! Right? 😉

7. Boys Don’t Cry

This movie upset me quite a lot as it was a true story & I’ve never watched it again but I remember Hilary Swank’s Brandon Teena having to hide his used tampons/sanitary napkins under his mattress so no one would realize he was a girl? It’s a movie I’d most definitely recommend but it’s one of the heaviest & most depressing that I’ve ever watched so be prepared for that if you’ve never seen it.

6. The Legend Of Billie Jean

Aww. This movie is SO Eighties but I can’t help but have an affection for it. It’s weird to hear Yeardley Smith’s Lisa Simpson voice talking about getting a diaphragm after finally starting her period for the first time while on the run with “fugitive” Billie Jean. 

5. The Runaways

I thought this was a great movie (even though Kristen Stewart, as Joan Jett, was in it) and I had to include the graphic period scene since a drop of blood falling onto the ground (from Dakota Fanning, as Cherie Currie) is the opening shot of the film. Here’s the beginning of the movie:

4. My Girl

I love My Girl and love love love the scene, after Vada realizes that she isn’t hemorrhaging to death, where she pushes Macauley Culkin over after he asks if she wants to go swimming and she shouts “and don’t come back for five to seven days!” Haha! It really is a bloody good movie.

3. Sixteen Candles

I think this scene is absolutely hilarious. What the HELL kind of drugs did she take for her cramps?! I want some of that!!

2. Ginger Snaps

I thought that Ginger Snaps was quite a good & clever film (as far as horrors go) and can’t believe it took so long to make a movie linking puberty, periods, full moons, and werewolves. It makes perfect sense!

1. Carrie

Plug it up! Plug it up! My god this scene is horrifying. I think this scene most accurately portrays what it’s actually like when this happens for the first time. I don’t care what anyone says! “Beautiful” and “all part of becoming a woman” my ass. The first time feels like a horror movie and that’s even when you actually knew it was going to happen eventually (unless you also had a crazy bitch of a mother like Carrie’s…).

Honorable Mentions:

Square Dance (aka Home Is Where The Heart Is) (I think I’m the only person in the world who saw this coming-of-age movie starring a young Winona Ryder)
The Thorn Birds (I love The Thorn Birds! And it’s soooo not a “me” movie!)
Pitch Black (the period bit is a stupid scene within an entire movie filled with outrageous stupidity)
Superbad (I actually think the “perioded on my leg” thing is pretty dumb)

And, finally, Charlie Bartlett: