A review on Pixar’s latest experimental film: “Turning Red”

Vincent Le, Entertainment Editor

Pixar has never done anything like they have in their newest installment, “Turning Red”. The film illustrates the story of Chinese-Canadian thirteen-year-old Meilin Lee who, when overwhelmed with emotion, transfigures into a colossal, fluffy red panda.

Amidst the praise for the film highlighting a relatable coming-of-age story, many commentators found issues with the film’s discussions on puberty, menstruation, and attraction. The most controversial scene involves Meilin’s mother offering Meilin menstrual products.. Critics argue that these topics should not be taught through Disney movies—that, in short, Disney has gone too far. 

However, I approached the issue from a different perspective: I applaud Pixar for attempting to eliminate the stigma attached to these topics. Pixar weaves these topics into their films in hopes of encouraging discussions and educating children on topics in which there should be no shame in discussing. “Turning Red” teaches audiences that the line should not be drawn when discussing topics many teenagers experience, and that these experiences, while seemingly embarrassing, are completely normal.  

Another reason for the movie’s intense popularity is that it has been celebrated for its extraordinary inclusion of minority groups. Meilin’s own friend group (including herself) are Chinese, Korean, and  Indian. In a more groundbreaking fashion, the film also features Dexcom patches, hijabs, people in wheelchairs, and characters on several ends of the body-size spectrum. The film’s diversity is not only impressive but is a victory definitely worthy of celebration. 

What I appreciated about the film’s representation is that no character is defined by a certain demographic, like their race. For example, the film presents Meilin’s best friend Priya Mangal—who is Indian and queer—simply as a laidback, gothic, vampire-romance fanatic who happens to have a crush on another girl. Her race and sexual orientation are never emphasized at the forefront of her identity. “Turning Red” perfectly demonstrates what I believe to be meaningful representation.

Pixar has never told a coming-of-age story like “Turning Red”. It displays the teenage hardships of balancing school, family, friends, and getting concert tickets to your favorite boy band. As cringe-worthy as Meilin and her dorky, middle school friends are, they express the freest, most outgoing version of themselves, never acknowledging anyone else’s judgment. As many know, every Pixar movie must evoke some sort of moral cliché; Turning Red’s is certainly to live every day of your teenage years as if you were to graduate tomorrow. 

If you still have no intention of watching the film, or if you stubbornly think you have outgrown Disney movies, think again, and consider giving “Turning Red” a watch. I am sure you will find yourself somewhere in this film, no matter your heritage.