Sigh…the more I think about this film, the more I hate it! Sorry, you can already tell that this is going to be a negative review.
Pixar’s 25th film, Turning Red, was the third Pixar film in a row to be released on Disney+ instead of theaters. At first, I wasn’t supportive of this decision, but after seeing this film, I think it was the right thing to do. Without further ado, let’s take a look at Turning Red!
Warning: There will be spoilers ahead!
The film takes place in Toronto, Canada in the early 2000s. Teenager Mei, voiced by Rosalie Chiang, is an ace student, loves to do and say what she wants, and is in love with the boy band, 4*Town.
She also does her best to make her Chinese immigrant parents, voiced by Sandra Oh and Orion Lee, proud. She assists them with their family temple and is an obedient daughter overall, despite her and her mother often having differing opinions on certain things.
One day though, Mei awakens transformed into a giant red panda, the result of a family curse. She discovers that whenever she experiences strong emotions, she turns into the panda, but when she calms herself, she reverts back to a human. Fortunately, there is a ritual that can be performed in about a month’s time that could get rid of the red panda spirit for good. Until then, Mei tries to live a normal life while dealing with her teenage feelings for guys, her differing opinions with her mother, and deciding whether to keep her inner panda hidden or not.
Yeah, I really hated this movie! The overall plot was very loose resulting in something random being thrown in every now and then to further the plot. The animation was nothing special either and at times looked not quite finished. But, the biggest issue I had with the film is its overall message!
The film ends with Mei deciding to keep her red panda spirit, but also with her requiring her parents to accept any and all decisions that she makes. I feel it pushes the idea of a teenager basically telling her parents that she can do or say whatever she wants and they just have to submit to that, accept, and allow it to happen. Mei becomes the boss of her own life and obeying her mother is thrown out the window.
I feel this promotes Western ideals and culture while looking down on Eastern ideals and culture. It treats the Western ideals and culture as sensibly “right” and the Eastern ideals and culture as emphatically “wrong” rather than appreciating and respecting the differences in both.
I never thought I would ever praise Pixar’s Brave, but at least that movie treated the differing mother/daughter dynamic in a much better way! In Brave, both the mother and daughter are willing to compromise with each other. In this film, there is no compromise! Rather it’s the 13-year-old saying “My way or the highway” and her mother being forced to just accept that.
I feel the film promotes rebellion as a good thing in all situations and doesn’t promote any level of self-control or self-discipline. If I had behaved towards my parents in the way Mei did to hers, they would not have tolerated that level of insolence from me! But again, my whole upbringing and ideology are what the film is criticizing in the first place as “brainwashing” anyway.
Did I like anything about this film? Well, I liked Mei’s friends. I thought they were cool characters and probably would have preferred that the movie be about them instead. Besides that though, this is definitely my least favorite Pixar film!