“Turning Red” Film Review


Photo credit: https://pixabay.com/vectors/film-camera-photo-negative-24534/

Teresa Collins, Contributor

Turning Red” is a 2022 animated film rated PG. “Turning Red” was directed by Domee Shi and written by Sarah Striecher, Julia Cho and Domee Shi. This film stars the voices of Rosalie Chiang as Meilin, Sandra Oh as Ming, Ava Morse as Miriam, Hyein Park as Abby and Maitreyi Ramakrishnan as Priya.

“Turning Red” is about a 13-year-old girl named Meilin Lee whose attitude is all about doing whatever she wants. However, in her family you are supposed to worship your parents by doing whatever they ask, so she does everything she can to impress her mother, trying to do everything perfectly. 

The red panda is very important to the Lees; however, Meilin doesn’t truly understand why until one morning she wakes up to find that she has turned into one. She finds out that she needs to learn to control her emotions in order to keep from turning into the red panda and keep it inside. I thought the red panda idea was interesting because I feel like when you’re upset it can be like that sometimes figuratively in real life. 

After letting out the panda in school, upset, Meilin returns home and her mother tells her the story of the red panda explaining their ancestor loved red pandas so much that she wanted to turn into one. At that time it was a blessing that protected the family, now it was a burden. When I saw this part, I did think it was strange that the ancestor wanted to be a red panda, but it made sense with the story and why she turned into the panda.

Meilin and her friends love the band called “4-town,” which her mother abhors. Meilin does not admit to her mother that she enjoys “4-town” to avoid her mother thinking less of her until the girls find out that the band will be coming to perform in their town soon. The girls all make a plan to ask their parents that night. Meilin goes all out with a presentation to her parents and the way she does it really goes along with her personality and shows her need to impress her mom even just to ask permission to go to a concert.

The girls come to school the next day to report that all the parents said no except Miriam’s, who could only go if she paid for the ticket on her own, so the girls decide they cannot go. Shortly after, some girls at school catch Meilin as the red panda at school and love it, so the four girls formulate a plan to raise money for the concert using the red panda by selling merchandise throughout school and making people pay money to take a picture with Meilin as the red panda.

The characters I liked the most were Meilin and Abby. I like how Meilin thought that she was an adult just because she was considered one on her bus pass. I also like how her whole attitude is that she doesn’t care what people think and she is her own person. Abby is one of my favorite characters as well because I think it’s cute how she’s portrayed kind of aggressively. It makes sense when you see the movie.

While I thought this film was good, there has been some controversy regarding this movie. One big thing people are saying they don’t like is the references to a girl’s period. The first time this is referenced is when Meilin is the panda hiding in the shower and her mother comes in the bathroom with pads for her thinking she has started her period and it comes up a few minutes later when her mother shows up outside of her classroom window at school because she said Meilin forgot her pads at home. I can see how that could make parents think this film is not for young children; however, personally, I don’t see a big problem with the talk about periods in this film.  I don’t believe there is a problem with this because, in my opinion, the young children won’t understand the references and may focus more on the big red panda than the pads, and the older viewers either already understand or will learn about it soon from parents or school.

I think that this film is enjoyable. I liked that the events in this film seem different but all connect in one way or another. For example, the girls’ interest may not seem connected to the mother in any way, but it gets connected through the idea of the red panda. I would recommend this film to anyone who likes a good animated movie or young children. You can find this movie on Disney+.