Turning Red is the latest Pixar film released directly to Disney+ under Bob Chapek in the last couple of years after Soul and Luca. This hasn’t been a very popular decision in the minds of Pete Docter and the filmmakers of these great animated films. Sometimes things are just about business, and as far as that’s concerned, some business decisions aren’t good for the people involved in them. Disney+ is a big pushing point for the stockholders, and they need things that can get help subscriptions. That being said, Turning Red is finally coming out. Let’s see if this film deserved a theatrical release or not.
Meilin “Mei” Lee (Rosalie Chiang) is a thirteen-year-old girl who’s the pride of her mother Ming Lee (Sandra Oh) and has a group of good friends in school. She is a very good student in her own right. She is also very focused for a young lady such as herself. What she doesn’t know is that her family has a curse on it and what it consists of is when a young lady in this family comes of age, they turn into a rare red panda.
If she gets emotional such as very happy or angry or sad, the panda comes out. The only way she can control it is by being calm and not letting her emotions get the better of her. The thing is, that’s easier said than done. Teenage girls can notoriously get very emotional at the sight of their favorite band or musical heartthrob. They can’t resist themselves, usually because of their ages.
Having been around children my entire life, I can attest to this adage. This film gets the idea of how teenage girls act and how emotional they can get regarding something they love, such as a young boy, or as I mentioned, a heartthrob of their youth such as an actor, singer, or band. Teen girls can be quite hysterical at times. In this case, it’s not a good thing because she turns into that giant red panda.
This film deals with Asian lineage. The background of these people is at the forefront of this film. How the filmmakers deal with this is a key to how this film transcends. The characters are fascinating. This story pushes Asian life to the forefront, using this premise as its way to do so. Even though these characters live in Toronto, Canada, they are distinctly from Asian backgrounds.
Domee Shi is an animator who has worked on Inside Out and Incredibles 2, but her big break was when she won the Academy Award for the Best Animated Short film in 2018 for Bao. So it makes sense she would get the opportunity to direct her first feature-length animated film, Turning Red. And it makes sense she would focus on her Chinese lineage. This film has a very distinct flavor and background that is important to her.
Another Academy Award-winner, Ludwig Goransson, composed the score of the film. He has been busy lately with The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett. He once again does a great job creating an original sound for this film using instruments familiar to Asian cultures. The film also has original songs from Billie Eilish and Finneas. The music all around is fantastic in Turning Red.
Great animated films also have great voiceover talent attached to them as well. This film has a lot of legendary Asian voices that portray the characters in it. Other than the two I mentioned, the film has James Hong, Wai Ching Ho, and Lori Tan Chinn in it. The film is only as strong as the cast, and they are all fantastic in this film. Newcomers and old alike everybody does a great job in this film.
Turning Red has a nice animated style to it. The Pixar animation is very similar to Shi’s other film Bao. That’s fine because the animation is as good as the story within the film itself. I am here to say that both are very good and that this film has got shortchanged. This film deserved a theatrical release. Its quality from the story, animation, voiceover, music, and overall direction is fantastic. Still, Shi has a hit in her hands no matter how you look at it, and people need to watch it on Disney+ to prove Pixar films deserve theatrical releases once again.
4 1/2 Stars
Dan Skip Allen
Founder/EIC disappointment media