Turning Red Review

Warning: This contains spoilers of the 2022 Disney Movie

Trinity Mackenzie

Initially, I was going to write a Batman review, but this movie had so many things I wanted to talk about, so here we are. Firstly to summarize, the movie follows a thirteen-year-old Chinese American Meilin Lee in 2002. The film is about her misadventures with her friends as she tries to go to her favorite band’s concert. All the while, she is taking control of a generational gift of turning into a giant red panda when feeling emotions of any kind.

This film was a beautiful slice of life that perfectly encapsulated the awkward, cringey and fun times of being a young teenager. Each character in the story is unique in their own way. From Mei’s Tamagotchi, to her mild obsession with her favorite band, 4-Town, her character is absolutely lovable and relatable to the time. Her friends, Abby, Priya and Miriam are adorkable in their own way. Abby is a Korean American, she’s fiery and intense about her love for 4-Town and for her friends. Miriam is a full-out tomboy, who is a master at cheering up Mei with a serenade. Finally, Priya, my favorite character, is a chill girl who loves Nightfall, a spoof of twilight.

Mei’s family is crazy, in a loving way. Her aunties shower with love and interrogate Mei about her life. Her grandmother has a prominent scar along her eye and is stern and very intimidating and only wishes for Mei to rid of her panda powers. Her mother, Ming, only wants for Mei to be just like her and it’s cute for a while, but their differences are quite large. Ming is calm, cool, and collected. She is very knowledgeable and very overprotective of Mei, she wants her to be “mommy’s little girl” for as long as possible. She is overbearing and hard to please, but Mei would do anything for her. Mei’s father, Jin, is a man of few words, but he clearly has a lot of love for Mei and Ming, my favorite scene is when Jin is cooking and it shows the beauty of Chinese cooking.

Now for the spoiler section, if you’d like to watch Turning Red please avert your eyes from the rest of the review. This movie is really adorable, however, the biggest problem I have with it is the sheer second-hand embarrassment I got from watching parts of this movie. For example, Ming dragging Mei to show Devon drawings that Mei fantasized about was actually physically painful to watch. I also have to critique the casting of Ming. I love Sandra Oh, but I think Disney should have gotten a Chinese voice actress to play Ming, not a Korean one. This movie was alarmingly realistic, which is what made it so wonderful to watch. It touched on subjects like generational trauma, menstruation, and maturity. These subjects made this movie that much more lovable.

Straying away from the plot or the characters, the music in this movie is great. All of the songs from 4-Town are bangers, considering Finneas and Billie Eilish wrote the songs. Jordan Fisher sings as the lead of the boy band,  Robaire, and he is fantastic.

The ending of this movie was really silly but also had some really sad moments. When Ming invades the concert as her panda form, Mei acts silly and goofy to contain her. However, when they meet in the fox realm, we meet teenage Ming. This part of the movie made it worth watching. When Ming cries and says, “I’ll never be enough for her”, this makes the connection between the generational trauma deeply rooted in this family. Her sobs show weakness in what seemed a strong character; it made her seem vulnerable, which is something we have never seen in Ming before.

Honestly, I’ll give this movie a solid 8/10 it had me smiling and on the brink of tears. It was realistic for the time and was goofy, which made me love the characters and the animation. It’s a fun and unique slice of life that is relatable in many ways.