Turning Red Review: Panda pop - SciFiNow

Turning Red Review: Panda pop

An odd genetic trait changes the course of young Mei’s life in Pixar’s new coming-of-age adventure, Turning Red. Read the SciFiNow review…

Turning Red

Puberty is a tough time for the best of us. But for Mei (Rosalie Chiang) in Pixar’s latest, Turning Red, puberty means a lot more than bodies changing and uncontrollable crushes – a family ‘curse’ means she turns into a giant red panda when her emotions get out of control. And for a young person on the precipice of teenagehood – those emotions get out of control. A lot.

For Mei, turning into a giant red panda (we never said this was a subtle metaphor) marks a turning point in her oh-so-planned out life. Suddenly her pin-point focus on schoolwork starts to get interrupted by boys (specifically, boy band 4-Town and their catchy song that we wish you all the best of luck getting out of your head); those private, niggling thoughts in her mind start to unexpectedly find a voice; and her relationship with her mother (Sandra Oh) swiftly gets complicated as they systematically clash and make up again.

Those who remember the adorable Academy Award-winning short story Bao will not only recognise the name behind Turning Red, Domee Shi, but will also be familiar with the movie’s off-kilter comedy and the ability to side-swipe you at any given opportunity. Indeed, don’t think you’ll be prepared for Turning Red from the synopsis above. This is a Pixar film that isn’t afraid to confront the uncomfortable, so expect awkward feelings of uncontrollable lust, bumbling conversations about period pads and volatile, confusing relationships with… well… pretty much everyone.

Moreover than that, Turning Red is funny. The kind of Shrek funny that only some animated movies find a special place in – where both the kids and adults are laughing, and usually at totally different things. Couple that with an impressive voice cast and a few emotional moments that will have you frantically pushing that lump down in your throat, and you’ll find yourself with the best Pixar movie in years.

Shi was the first female director for a Pixar short film and she’s not done smashing boundaries yet. Turning Red stands apart from the Pixar pack for being unafraid to show puberty in all its uncomfortable glory, while being funny, charming and pleasantly poignant at the same time.

Turning Red releases on 11 March 2022 on Disney +