Pixar is no stranger to bringing a unique and special twist to the human condition. Whether it’s being shown with rats, cars, or fish, the stories are always bursting with creativity and heart. “Turning Red” is another welcome tradition of Pixar films that brings into focus a rich and complex way of life. Focusing on an Asian family in Toronto, “Turning Red” is a coming-of-age film about puberty and family trauma.
The choice to have the lead character turn into a giant Red Panda as a plot device for getting a period is not only genius but will now enter the pantheon of great euphemisms. The themes of growing up will be hard to miss, but the more effective story is the generational trauma that is shared with the women in the family.
Mother and daughter fued as young Mei struggles to cope with the Red Panda and all her mother wants to do is help in her own way. We begin to understand the dynamic that is steeped in tradition and fear. The idea of forging your own path with your burgeoning sexuality and stopping the cycle of fear is extremely admirable and a fresh approach.
Director Domee Shi won the Oscar for her short film “BAO”, which showcased her talent for not only telling an effecting story but also being able to reduce the audience to tears through clever animation. Using her Chinese heritage and infusing what has to be some of her personal life, Shi is able to talk about an important issue that we all experience, while also educating people about a culture that may not have been exposed to.
The animation has a very specific feel, it is very shiny and has a bubbliness that can make the characters feel like they are in a different animated film at times. The positives outweigh the negatives, and seeing another culture on full display is always refreshing.
3 out of 5