Turning Red Review
When I saw the first trailer for Turning Red I have to say I was very unimpressed. The animation style seemed so far removed from the likes of Pixar's previous classics--it just looked like an average animated movie. But it wasn't just how it looked that felt off to me. Turning Red looked like something from any other animation studio in Hollywood, both as far as style went as well as content...it certainly didn't look special in any way (no trace of that Pixar touch so far as I could tell). Then came the rave reviews leading up to its release claiming it to be one of Pixar's best films in years while simultaneously being the ultimate metaphor for periods and adolescence. I became even more skeptical. I was not really eager to see a film with this subject matter and I went in prepared that I probably wasn't going to enjoy it.
Turning Red follows Mei Mei, a young 13-year-old girl who lives a simple life in Toronto until one day she discovers that she turns into a giant red panda whenever her emotions are out of control. Early on, the film was what I was expecting. An unlikeable protagonist, with unlikeable friends, who together all obsess over a silly boy band. Couple that with some teenage angst and unbearable embarrassment due to mommy issues and voila! You've got yourself Turning Red. A scene ten minutes in where her mother mortifies her was so cringeworthy, it felt like it HAD to be a dream...and yet the movie continued on. I felt as though I was in for a long ride ahead. But as the film went on, at some point my annoyance kind of melted away more into amusement, and I couldn't help but smile and laugh at some of the antics to be found here. In the end, it won me over because I couldn't help but find its oddball quality endearing.
While I do find the subject matter to be a bit old for a children's movie, there's definitely an audience for it and most of it goes over the really young kids' heads anyway. For its intended audience, the film is a hoot. Turning Red is really funny and deals with adolescence in a comical, yet relatable way. That said, it's not the instant classic many are claiming and it does have flaws. I do think that a lot of the praise is mostly due to people respecting its boldness in even going here, but just because the film takes on these topics doesn't automatically give it the quality some are claiming it has. While I think Mei Mei and her mother Ming are strong characters, the rest feel underdeveloped and merely caricatures. While the friendship at the core of the film is supposed to be what grounds her, we as the audience kinda just take their word for it. It could have also benefited from a tighter edit as things really lag in the middle and before the film's climax. It felt a lot longer than it actually was.
Turning Red may not end up having the broadest appeal that previous Pixar films have, but it's still enjoyable if you can let go and enjoy the ride.