Turning Red 2022′ tackles the mess of adolescence with refreshing honesty – How
Turning Red 2022: Three years ago, writer-director Domi Shea won an Oscar for her delightful Pixar animated short, Bao.
In telling the sweet and surreal story of a Chinese Canadian mother and a bubbly dumpling coming to life, it captured something funny and poignant about the cultural and generational differences that can divide Asian immigrant families.
With her debut feature, Turning Red, Shi delves further into the complexities of the Asian parent-child relationship – and this time, she comes with even more conceit.
If you lump Carrie and The Joy Luck Club together, and somehow still get away with a PG rating, this is what this movie might sound like.
The story is set in the early 2000s, and follows a 13-year-old girl named Meilin Lee, voiced by Rosalie Chiang, living in Toronto’s Chinatown.
Mei is an obedient overachiever, a straightforward student who spends her free time helping her parents run a temple built to honor their Chinese ancestors.
While Mei’s father is shy and mostly out of the way, her mother, Ming – a terrifying Sandra Oh – is attentive to the domineering talk. (Turning Red 2022)
In addition to being highly involved in Mei’s studies, Ming strictly controls her daughter’s social life, in the hope that she will not be too influenced by Western methods.
But while Mei may look like the ideal daughter, she has her own interests, just like any teenager. She’s starting to notice the boys, and she and her friends are especially obsessed with ‘n Sync-style boy bands.
And then one morning, in a twist on Kafka’s The Metamorphosis and countless werewolf movies, she learns that she has turned into a giant red panda with bright red-orange fur and a long, bushy tail. She immediately walks out.
Director Xi, who co-wrote the screenplay with Julia Cho, delivers an honest approach to the filth of adolescence that is fresh in the world of studio animation.
Mei’s transformation is clearly a metaphor for the onset of puberty, when your body betrays you and becomes unrecognizable overnight. (Turning Red 2022)
But it is also a metaphor for something else. As it turns out, the Red-Panda Effect is the result of some very ancient Chinese magic that has been passed on to Mei through the women of her family.
It may be a ridiculous setup, but as is the case with most Pixar movies, even the most outlandish plot devices have their own narrative logic.
Mei soon learns that her panda personality is driven by intense emotions; Whenever she is calm, she turns back to her human self. (Turning Red 2022)
His mother instructs him to suppress his feelings and Panda with him. But then something weird happens: His friends learn about Panda, and instead of being weirded out by it, they think it’s the cutest, best thing ever.
Soon, Mei is the new popular and having the time of her life, and she begins to wonder: What if the panda, far from some embarrassing aberration, is actually the truest expression of her happy, goofy, emotional self?
And so Turning Red tells a story about shame, repression, and social anxiety—areas that I, like some Asian Americans, know a thing or two about. (Turning Red 2022)
Throughout the film, I find myself sometimes winning recognition over Mei’s stress and embarrassment as she is torn between her family and friends.
I even leaned into moments that seemed exaggerated for comic effect, especially when it came to Mei’s mother, who was clearly conceived along the lines of the controversial “Tiger Mom” stereotype. (Turning Red 2022)
All of this goes to say that Turning Raid gives you a lot of ideas that you can grapple with. It also gives you a lot to see.
Director Xi and his colleagues enjoy incorporating East Asian influences into the story and animation.
You can see touches of Japanese anime in the character designs; Mei’s Panda has the fluffy, oversized proportions of Hayao Miyazaki’s Totoro. (Turning Red 2022)
The action-heavy climax manages to salute kaiju films like Godzilla and martial-arts epics like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
Turning Red knows that teen life can sometimes feel like a monster movie and that sometimes it’s an action movie — and now, happily, it’s a Pixar movie, with more bold films to come along in a while. is one of. (Turning Red 2022)