A young girl is in for a change in her life in the latest Disney-Pixar production that brings to mind a certain 80’s cult classic.
Meilin is a girl who has celebrated her 13th birthday. However, she feels alienated that she can’t spend much time outside of school with her friends because of her overprotective mother, Ming. Ming and her husband Jin run a local temple in town where they talk about the legend of a spirit named Sun Yee, an ancestor who has the spirit of a red panda. An accidental confrontation between Ming and Mei’s crush leads Mei to be completely embarrassed in front of everyone, including bully Tyler. This leads to something shocking the next morning.
Mei wakes up to discover she has turned into a red panda. Mei learns that when she gets angry, the transformation takes place. To make matters worse, when she turns back to human form, she now sports red hair. When Ming has learned of Mei’s transformation, the truth is revealed. Sun Yee had granted the transformation to generations of her female descendants and only a ritual on the night of the Red Moon can reverse the spell. However, Mei and her friends soon discover the transformation has made her popular among her peers. Mei must soon decide whether she can get rid of the curse or embrace her newfound powers and what her choice can cost.
This latest Disney-Pixar film is an enjoyable look melds Chinese traditions with a bit of stereotypes that only the protagonist could go against. This comes when she has her newfound power of turning into a red panda at moments of anger only to eventually control the power. This brings to mind the Michael J. Fox-led 80’s cult classic Teen Wolf. After all, the story of a protagonist undergoing a change and learning to accept it until an incident forces them to question whether to embrace it or change.
Meilin, voiced by Rosalie Chiang, finds herself an outcast who only relies on her besties because her overprotective mother, Sandra Oh’s Ming, always is on her back. Ming is the definition of a “tiger mom” when compared to Scott Howard’s father Harold, who is a good-natured hardware store owner who wants Scott to be himself. Meilin’s first transformation is reaction is one of the most hilarious ones and even brings in more hysterics when a fellow classmate discovers her in panda form. Hyein Park’s Abby is hilarious as well and gets major props as her reactions to certain situations has her outbursting, sometimes in Korean to boot.
Like Teen Wolf, Meilin goes through a stage where her popularity increases once she begins to embrace the Panda like Scott does with the Wolf. Even the bully Tyler, voiced by Tristan Allerick Chen, eventually finds himself accepting Meilin in a way and goes as far as inviting her to appear as the Panda to his party. Of course, there is also the tradition side of things, upon learning that she is not the only female descendant of the family to become the Panda. The third act, set during a concert with 4-Town, a boyband Meilin and her besties adore, brings in some serious insanity and hilarious antics that brings Godzilla to mind and scores that final lesson in what we see in Disney-Pixar films.
Turning Red is hilariously fun and if you are a fan of Teen Wolf among other “protagonists change and become popular” riff, then this is your cup of tea. All round fun! Another winner for Disney-Pixar!
WFG RATING: A
A Disney/Pixar production. Director: Domee Shi. Producer: Lindsey Collins. Writers: Julia Cho and Domee Shi; story by Cho, Shi, and Sarah Stretcher. Cinematography: Mahyar Abousaeedi and Jonathan Pyke. Editing: Nicholas C. Smith and Steve Bloom.
Voice Cast: Rosalie Chiang, Sandra Oh, Ava Morse, Hyein Park, Maltreyi Ramakrishnan, Orion Lee, Wai Ching Ho, Tristan Allerick Chen, James Hong, Finneas O’Connor.