Movies

Turning Red Review and Reflection (with Spoilers!)

Movie Review:

Turning Red (2022)

Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

Warning: Spoilers Ahead!

Overview

Pros

  • helps to normalize talking about periods
  • Great animation
  • Creative concept
  • Even though I did not find the characters especially relatable, many preteen and teenage girls would
  • Nice to see an underrepresented culture on screen
  • The friendships between the teenage girls were touching
  • The music was cute

Cons

  • Requires a lot of suspension of disbelief

Review and Reflection

Turning Red is a 2022 movie about a 13-year-old Chinese-Canadian girl named Meilin, who turns into a red panda when she feels any strong emotion. Her ancestors were blessed by the ability to turn into large red pandas to protect themselves and others, and this ability has been passed down through the women of each generation. Once a blessing, it now happens to be a major problem.

As you know, our ancestor, Sun Yee, had a mystical connection with red pandas. In fact, she loved them so much that she asked the gods to turn her into one. It was wartime. The men were all gone. Sun Yee was desperate for a way to protect herself and her daughters. Then one night, during a red moon, the gods granted her wish. They gave her the ability to harness her emotions, to transform into a powerful mystical beast. She was able to fend off bandits, protect her village, and save her family from ruin. Sun Yee passed this gift to her daughters, for when they came of age. And they passed it to theirs. But over time, our family chose to come to a new world. And what was a blessing became… an inconvenience.

Ming

When Meilin first turns into the red panda, she tries to hide this from her parents. Her mom wrongfully believes Meilin’s period has started. Now, most movies wouldn’t touch the topic of periods with a 10-foot pole, but this one embraced that part of growing up. I feel like normalizing that topic is important, since it is just a part of life, and so many people go through it.

I saw some reviews complaining that parents had to explain what a period was to the boys watching, but I do not see that as a con. Boys SHOULD understand what a period is. It is a part of biology, and besides, guys who don’t understand how periods work can be extremely judgmental. I know that many teenage boys wrongfully believe that girls can just “hold it” and control their period, when that is certainly not possible.

Meilin’s mom, Ming, is so clueless that it is obnoxious. She tells Meilin she forgot her pads in the middle of a class after apparently spying on her through the window. Ming recognizes a teenage boy from Meilin’s drawings and accuses him of being romantically involved with Meilin. It’s hard to imagine that an adult could be that out of touch with the social ramifications of her behavior for her child.

Even though many people could relate to this movie, I personally did not find Meilin relatable. From her obsession with boy bands to her intense crushes, many of her experiences were not as relevant to me. As a teen, I only ever had mild crushes on anyone, and boy bands never interested me in the least. I never had a celebrity crush.

Additionally, she grew up with really strict parents. Even though my parents were protective of me and I was somewhat sheltered, I never felt pressure from them to be perfect. Almost all of the pressure I felt was self-imposed, even though it was intense.

The friendship between the four girls was touching, and the fact that Meilin could control her inner panda by thinking of them was really sweet. That was another way my early teenage years were different. I didn’t have a strong friend group in my early teenage years. It was not until college that my social life really took off.

But I know it was a really good movie, even if it wasn’t always the most relatable for me.

I kind of wish Meilin had taken a little more time to learn how to control the red panda. She got the hang of it really quickly, and it wasn’t super believable. Also, the way that everyone mostly just accepted that a girl could turn into a big red panda was not believable either. Furthermore, when 4*Town and the audience of the concert sing to help turn Ming back into a human after her inner panda goes rogue, that stretched the believability of the movie as well. After all, if a giant monster red panda was going on a rampage, I don’t think that many people would stick around and sing.

The animation and the music were superb and cute. I thought it was interesting that some of the aspects of the movie were similar to anime, with eyes that got large and bright in response to things that were cute or funny.

Overall, I really enjoyed this movie and feel like Pixar is on a roll. I would recommend it for ages 12 and up mostly because it is super awkward to explain periods to young children.

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2 thoughts on “Turning Red Review and Reflection (with Spoilers!)”

  1. Nice review! I like how you pointed out how periods are normalized in this movie. I haven’t seen pads on TV ever. I don’t get why the crowd stuck around and sang at the end. I guess the writers wanted to show the magic of boy bands or something like that–definitely not realistic, but it was pretty entertaining.

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