Pssst, want to check out Turning Red in our new look?
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I didn't realize animated films out of the big houses could be as personal as Turning Red. Sure, they tend to be culturally specific these days (and that's for the good), but they don't feel like the personal vision of a certain director. Domee Shi's beautiful short Bao WAS personal, and I'm glad its success paid off and allowed her to make a movie that's specifically about her own early teenage years in early 2000s Toronto. What it translates into is a 13-year-old's perspective through and through (or else how could a boy band feature this prominently?), and a metaphor that is partly about getting one's first period at the exact age where everything makes you feel like you'll die of embarrassment. The magical element of the red panda that hulks out during times of emotional turmoil isn't allegorical and represents many things - shame, sexual awakening, teenage rebellion, becoming one's own self - so don't try to push any one filter onto the proceedings. For once, it's not some adventure quest, but rather a comedy that's cousin to something like Freaky Friday, building understanding between generations and coming up with a perhaps unexpected lesson. Perfect family fare since it engages both parents and kids, and should lead to important conversations. Even if you don't have kids, the hindsight is relatable, and perhaps you're even the right age to wax nostalgic about 2002 (makes ME feel old that it's now a retro period, honestly).
Mei-Mei's friend group is so damn cute. The movie started a bit too hyper for me-- a lot of narration and jokes coming a mile a minute. But that's just the intro. It eventually settles into a rhythm that breezily reaches a climax that is emotional, funny and exciting in equal measure. So not the best Pixar film out there, but still immensely enjoyable. Definitely recommended.
I also wanted to address that strange review that caused a big commotion for saying that the movie's worldview makes its target audience pretty small: being a thirty year old South American male, I can assure you I had no fucking problem relating to this film. The theme (growing up around controlling parents) is so universal that the guy who wrote -and later deleted- that idiotic review must have been grasping at straws to accuse the film of being "woke" or "pushing an agenda". This is completely apolitical and harmless... which are less than desirable qualities, in my opinion... but what do I know? Just don't believe the click-bait and enjoy this children's movie instead of mistaking it for a liberal boogeyman.
For those of you who didn't follow the controversy-- this is what I'm talking about: “I recognized the humor in the film, but connected with none of it. By rooting ‘Turning Red’ very specifically in the Asian community of Toronto, the film legitimately feels like it was made for [director] Domee Shi’s friends and immediate family members,” O’Connell wrote in the since-pulled review. “Which is fine — but also, a tad limiting in its scope.”
O’Connell doubled down on his opinion of the film in a since-deleted tweet that accompanied his review. The post read: “Some Pixar films are made for universal audiences. ‘Turning Red’ is not. The target audience for this one feels very specific and very narrow. If you are in it, this might work very well for you. I am not in it. This was exhausting.” Here's a link-- https://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/turning-red-cast-responds-controversial-review-pulled-offline-rcna19725
you better don't forget your pads
to see which of your friends have seen this movie!