Reviewing the sensational Disney movie “Turning Red”

A culturally inclusive and action-packed animation


Brooke Herstein / Talon

Brooke Herstein, Staff Writer

Prior to watching “Turning Red,” every person I talked to about the movie told me how sweet and realistic it was. I wanted to see if this description was true, so I sat down with some popcorn and started watching.

The first few scenes of the movie was a photo reel of the childhood of the main character, thirteen-year-old Meilin Lee, otherwise known as Mei. Right in the beginning, I could see that the animation was really intricate. The introduction of Mei was super cute and showed her outgoing and confident personality. 

The film follows Mei and her maturation into liking boys and disobeying her overbearing parents — everything a teenager is known to do. Mei and her close group of friends are even seen fan-girling over a boy band group called “4-Town” throughout the movie. 

I noticed Mei’s relationship with her mother and I found it interesting, as it definitely relates to many teenagers today. Mei’s mother tends to think that her teenage daughter is still her little girl, and she expects her to do whatever she says. Mei feels like she needs to be free and is tired of her mother constantly looking over her shoulder, which should be taken literally, as Mei’s mother is seen watching her daughter through binoculars multiple times in the film. Mei’s escape from her mother is her red panda. 

This giant red panda is the main image of the movie. Mei and her female ancestors turn into red pandas when they experience any powerful emotion, positive or negative. I believe it represents part of a person that one keeps hidden from the world. The idea of letting one’s inner beasts or red pandas show is a really great message and I think it displays wonderfully how many teenagers feel that they can’t let their true selves show.

I also want to touch on the amazing representation of multiple different ethnicities, cultures and the overall diversity that is shown throughout the film. There are students seen wearing hijabs and many students that are seen wearing glucose monitors for diabetes. Chinese culture is also explored in addition to other Asian cultures. I think that all of this representation is so important to have in a film, especially in a young person’s film like this. I think that having this representation could make children of any culture or background feel like they can relate to the movie, and understand its important message. 

The director of the film, Domee Shi, is Pixar Animation Studios first solo female director for a feature movie. I think that this female representation in filmmaking is important, and it is a huge step into equal representation for women in the film industry. 

“The idea for ‘Turning Red’ came from me wanting to make a movie for that 13-year-old Domee who was struggling with her body and her emotions and fighting with her mom every day and wanting to understand what was going on at that time, but in a fun and unique and magical way,” Shi said to Huffpost