Movies

Turning Red Movie Review

Domee Shi just made one of the best Disney movies in a long time!

A relatable story about growing up

Everyone goes through growing pains. Some people get hair in places that used to not have hair. Others’ voices change while others turn into giant red pandas.

The movie features Mei Lin Lee (voiced by newcomer Rosalie Chiang) a 13 year old Chinese-Canadian girl who is studious and is the living example of what Chinese parents consider the “perfect” child.

What’s Turning Red all about?

The story takes place in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 2002. Mei helps manage the temple with her mother Ming and her father Jin.

Mei’s friends are the shy Priya, wild Abby and the cool Miriam.

One day, Mei or Mei Mei (meaning little sister in Mandarin), suddenly turns into a giant red panda when she experiences strong emotions like excitement for the upcoming tour of boy band “4-Town.” The band is a mix of boy bands from the late 90s and early 2000s.

Throughout the movie Mei learns to discover her true identity while keeping in touch with her family’s culture as well.

Now I don’t want to enter spoiler territory so I’ll stop explaining the plot here.

How’s the story-telling?

Wow. Oh wow. Oh wow. This movie is so relatable!

What can I say? As a child, you always want to be the model for your parents. The ideal child. However trying to be perfect can take its toll. You want to find your way in life and everyone goes through it in different ways.

I used to listen to boy bands like Backstreet Boys, and I still do, but I also opened my mind to bands like Linkin Park. Now I’m a lifelong LP fan.

I can relate a lot to Mei’s struggles as a child of Chinese parents who want the best for their kids but don’t really understand that people will change inevitably.

Domee Shi and the entire crew of the film did an amazing job telling the story of the child of an immigrant family and trying to retain your culture but at the same time finding your real self.

It doesn’t matter that you like boy bands. You can still enjoy that Chinese drama with your parents. Embrace your weirdness.

I heard the animation is weird

Poster by Dingding Hu

Don’t listen to critics who judge the animation on the base level. You can clearly tell there are tons of inspirations in this movie. The facial expressions of the characters come from anime while the character movement reminds me of modern day Pixar films like Soul and Luca.

Even the way Mei ‘s body moves when running is so detailed. Even the fine little details like Ming removing her shoes to chase a transformed Mei in Toronto’s Chinatown is great! PS You know you’re in an Asian house when everyone is wearing slippers at home 😉

The crew of Turning Red gets all the little details down to the point. When Mei and her family are about to have breakfast, you can see the little Tim Hortons box with fresh Timbits and the early 2000s logo. The main phone at the time was the iconic Nokia 3210 (called Jokia for copyright reasons) and did I mention the Tamagochi?

The animation is wonderful for the film because you get a fusion of 2D and 3D mixed with anime influence while still creating their own style.

How’s the Voice Acting?

Rosalie Chiang brings a balance of affection and annoying as Mei Lin Lee (Screenshot from Turning Red’s Twitter)

Perfect. I have no complaints on the voice acting. Rosalie Chiang shines as the dorky Mei Lin Lee.

Sandra Oh doesn’t pull any punches as the overbearing Ming. The rest of the cast delivers excellently in their roles too.

The character of Abby stood out the most for me. Abby is voiced by animator/actor Hyein Park. She delivers lines in the most over the top manner and it makes the character even more entertaining.

How’s the movie as a whole?

Turning Red is a relatable story about growing up and trying to find your true self. Whether you’re a kid losing your mind over the biggest boy band in the world or watching dramas from your homeland to embracing what makes you unique, Turning Red is a must-watch for everyone!

Final Score: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Turning Red is now showing in cinemas in the Philippines and streaming on Disney Plus worldwide

Steven Maxwell Tan

Steven is an e-commerce employee by day and hockey/comic book/pro-wrestling fan by night. He loves to listen to Linkin Park and the latest hockey podcast while working. You can find him on Twitter @steviesaidyup where he shares hockey rants and more!

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