When Turning Red was first announced at Disney Investor Day 2020, I was initially skeptical but after learning more about the film and seeing the trailers, I began to look forward to its release. Well, I was fortunate enough to see it recently and it surpassed my expectations in every way. This is truly one of Pixar’s finest outings. In short, Turning Red took the Incredible Hulk and made it more kid friendly. In true Pixar fashion, the animation, stellar voice cast and wonderful setting in Toronto made this film truly unique but it is the underlying messages of the film that were the true gems. Let’s get into why I loved Turning Red.
Turning Red is probably going to be one of the most relatable Pixar films for viewers because it is all about growing up during the awkward teen years. Most people can relate to this time in their lives and younger audiences will get a sneak peak at what’s in store for them. The film dives into some of the awkward conversations and situations teens find themselves in, the challenges of becoming independent and the need for parental approval. All of this is further complicated by the fact that the 13-year-old main character, Meilin, is a first-generation immigrant of Chinese descent who must navigate having one foot in both worlds.
This is a movie of firsts for Pixar. It is the first movie to take place in Canada and the first Pixar movie to be directed by a woman. Both long overdue in my opinion but worth the wait. Another plus in this movie is the mother-daughter story that is the heart of this film. It depicts the complex relationship between a kind but oppressive mother and a spunky but dutiful daughter. This isn’t the first time we have heard this story, but its focus on an Asian family is a new and welcome change. With all of this, Pixar’s most mystical and diverse movie yet doesn’t struggle to find its identity and it all comes together to deliver a completely unique and charming film.
Something else I loved about the movie is the diversity. The film consists of a predominantly female cast which we don’t see very often in this genre. While the main family is of Chinese descent, the rest of the characters are from various ethnicities. This is also reflected in the cast of voice actors. While the main roles are voiced wonderfully by Rosalie Chiang (Meilin) and the incomparable Sandra Oh (the mom), the rest of the cast includes people from Korean, Tamil, Hindu and Cantonese backgrounds. I was heartened and inspired by the diversity and representation in this Pixar film. It is a step in the right direction and an accurate representation of the multicultural environment that Canada is known for.
The writing in this movie also stood out for me. It was sharp, witty, funny and very heartwarming. Each character was written to perfection and given a moment to shine in the film. Screenwriters Julia Cho and Domee Shi did an excellent job portraying the angst of the teen years with some humour and heart. That’s something that has been attempted often but rarely done with such great success. In my opinion, they nailed it!
This film probably hits home for me the most because it takes place in my home of Toronto. Director Domee Shi is also a fellow Torontonian, and, in many ways, this feels like a love letter to our city. The creators made great efforts to make this film authentically Canadian and even more effort to make it reflect the city of Toronto. The tiny details like the Daisy Mart and the TTC are sure to be appreciated by Torontonians everywhere. It was very cool to see my city represented in a big-budget film from a studio like Pixar. I know Canadians everywhere will appreciate and get a kick out of this.
Overall, I really enjoyed Turning Red. I was smiling and laughing from beginning to end and I think you will be too. This is a must see so make sure to check it out when it releases later this week on Disney+! You won’t regret it.