Yet another Pixar film has gone straight to Disney+ and skipped cinemas entirely, and just like with Soul and Luca, Turning Red would be so much better on the big screen. From its beautiful animation to its charming characters and narrative, it’s a film that really deserves the big screen experience.
Turning Red is a captivating coming of age story looking at themes of puberty and adolescence as we meet our main character, thirteen-year-old Mei Lee (voiced wonderfully by Rosalie Chiang). Straight away from a fast-paced opening narrated by Mei we learn that she’s her own person. Or at least she wants to be. She’s got a good group of friends, is obsessed with the boy band 4*Town that all the other girls love too but she’s also got to follow the rules of her strict parents.
But she doesn’t just have all the usual awkwardness of being a teenager to deal with because when she gets too excited, she turns into a giant red panda. She must choose between her overbearing mother and her family and becoming her own person and doing what she wants, whilst also coming to terms with being able to turn into a giant red panda.
In classic Pixar fashion, the animation looks stunning to the point that watching it on Disney+ and not in a cinema is a real disservice to all the animators that worked on the film. The giant red panda that Mei turns into looks absolutely adorable and each individual piece of fluff looks so textured and real. Yet again Pixar have managed to improve the animation from their previous films to the point where now it really is flawless. Even the animated food in the film looks divine.
Much like all of Disney and Pixar’s other films, there’s plenty of both heart and humour in Turning Red. Its fast-paced narrative helps keep the film moving with lots of jokes coming at you, and the emotional crux of the film is poignantly portrayed. Even if you’re not a teenage Asian-Canadian girl or if you’ve never been a teen girl, there is still plenty in this film that we can all relate too. Just like in every single Pixar film, the animation studio have managed to tackle a universal story and put it through one specific lens to make for a really entertaining and enjoyable film with some really great lessons in it.
It is inevitable that due to the incredibly impressive body of work that Pixar have produced over the past 30 years that Turning Red isn’t one of the best films, and it probably sits somewhere around the middle of their filmography but nonetheless, it’s an impressive film full of heart and emotion and is really just a joy to watch. The voice cast all nail their roles, it moves along rapidly never leaving you bored and it’s really entertaining. And the giant red panda is really cute. Like *really* cute!
Turning Red is streaming on Disney+ now.
DIRECTOR: Domee Shi
STARS: Rosalie Chiang, Sandra Oh, Ava Morse
RUNTIME: 100 minutes