Turning Red (2022) Movie Review


Movie ReviewTurning Red (2022) and its nerve-wracking way that just ‘hits hard at home’.



Title: Turning Red

Genre: Coming of Age

Director: Domee Shi

Voice cast: Rosalie Chiang, Ava Morse, Hyein Park, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Sandra Oh, Orion Lee

Duration: 1 hour 40 minutes



    After a long wait, Disney Pixar finally released its coming-of-age animation film, “Turning Red”.  This film blew up the internet (especially Twitter) since its release on February 21st, 2022 exclusively on Disney’s official streaming platform Disney+. The hashtag #TurningRed with a red panda emoticon spread around twitter homepage and is blasted out with comments from the audience which is mainly girls around the age of 17 and up to 20. 

    I am a massive fan of Disney films, and their latest Pixar movies such as Inside Out (2015) and Soul (2020) successfully wrecked my heart for the airy yet deep plot. Something about Disney Pixar creating a film involving emotions about adolescence and coming of age successfully drags the audience to relate deeply into the movie plot.


    Turning Red was directed by Domee Shi–also the director of Bao (2018) a magnificent short movie about dumplings–tells the story about 13-year-old Chinese-Canadian girl called Meilin or Mei that has to deal with her puberty, which involves her discomfort that piles up and turns her into a giant Red Panda. Mei discovered that emotions, such as her extreme excitement, could turn herself into a red panda. This is a little bit metaphorical since the age of 13 is the age of unbound excitement where we feel like we can do anything by ourselves because we are grown enough, have a crush on anyone, or even do anything we want to do. 


    The movie is set in the year 2000 in Toronto, an era where boy groups were popular among the teenagers. This movie will surely be relatable among teenagers’ audience as this movie talks about how puberty and adolescence take part especially for young girls who had to experience different changes during puberty such as uncontrollable emotion and even changes in some body parts. In my own opinion, when Mei forms change into a giant red panda, it could be a symbolization of changes in girls’ body parts during puberty. At first, Mei had a hard time controlling the red panda form as it is described as ‘furry and stinky’ by Mei herself. Aside from these two factors, this form is incredibly eye-catching. But despite its weird form, Mei learns to accept it as it is what makes her unique and different from anyone else. This again, is a metaphor about accepting our own uniqueness after the phase of puberty.


    Turning Red is a perfect manifestation of a teenager who is going through the ups and downs of puberty. Mei was involved deeply into the teenager’s bandwagon. In this movie, Mei was described as a bubbly, smart, witty 13-year-old who takes up her mother's perfect personality. She was the epitome of perfection in her mother’s eye, as she does anything that her mother desires and helps her mother take care of the family temple. The unconscious doings of a 13-year-old soon blow up on Twitter, where a lot of people claim they did unusual things that just did not make sense when they were thirteen, just like Mei. 


    As someone who enjoys watching Disney movies, I would say that this movie is worth every minute. The other unique thing about Turning Red is the official soundtrack from 4TOWN, a boy band that is adored by Mei and her friends. It brings back the music from the late 90s. 


    You might want to watch this movie because of the light plot, and to enjoy the bright animation. When I watched this, my head somehow told me that this wasn’t realistic at some point, and it was hard for me to find the relatable part despite other reviews saying that the movie undoubtedly ‘hits hard at home’ especially for us who lived under the family roof of Asian households. The plot is intriguing and it is fun to follow Mei’s little adventure. 

    Overall, this movie conveys a deep metaphorical message wrapped neatly under a light bubbly plot of a 13-year-old girl. If you are tired and need something to knock your mind off the reality, you might want to consider switching into Disney+ and hop on into a vast track to go back home, to a place where Mother prepares a warm cooked meal and scolds you because you did something unpleasant to her eyes. 


Writer: Ghinaa Atsiil Rachmania

Editor: Ias Aprilia