“Turning Red” is Fun for Tweens and Adult Therapy Directed by Domee Shi

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With Rosalie Chiang, Sandra Oh, Orion Lee, Wai Ching Ho, Ava Morse, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Hyein Park, Tristan Allerick Chen, James Hong

Posted on March 07, 2022

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In her feature debut, Domee Shi delves into the world of puberty and all the joys and struggles that come with it for both child and parent. Set in an ultra-stylized, anime-inspired world, turn red is a fun movie for tweens and a therapy session for adults.

Meilin Lee (Rosalie Chiang) is every parent’s dream: a straight college student with a strong group of friends who helps her parents run their family Buddhist temple in Toronto’s Chinatown. Mei is a contented 8th grader, confident in her abilities to handle all of life’s challenges – until the morning she wakes up as a giant (and adorable) red panda.

Mei is suddenly bigger, smellier, and much more emotional than the day before. She discovers that she is able to control herself from poof-going into the red panda calming down and not getting overexcited, but there’s no denying that part of her is changing. Her once unbreakable bond with her mother, Ming Lee (Sandra Oh), is tested as Mei’s new interests begin to drive her apart. And when Ming finally reveals a family secret to Mei, Mei is faced with a major decision that will have huge consequences for Mei and her family.

During the turn red At a virtual press conference in January, Shi described Pixar’s latest film as an “Asian preteen fever dream,” and she doesn’t disappoint. The Toronto of the early 2000s seen through the eyes of a 13 year old is colorful, dynamic and very bubbly. The animation style used by Shi in turn red is a wonderful homage to Studio Ghibli and 80s/90s animated TV shows like dragon ball z. Transforming the traditionally 2D style into 3D makes it look modern and fresh.

Shi writes a beautiful love letter to Toronto by turn red, with references to the (aptly named) SkyDome, TTC, Daisy Mart and, of course, the vibrant diversity of the city. The classrooms and the streets of turn red are filled with characters of all different shapes, sizes and colors, with multiple languages ​​heard in the background. Set in the early 2000s, Shi also fills the film with nostalgia (Tamogachi and boy bands included) which is a real treat for older generations.

At the heart of turn red is a coming-of-age tale about a young girl facing the frightening phase of life in which her individuality is being defined. The analogies to puberty are clear and will hopefully be helpful to young girls entering (or already in) this stage of life. And for an older audience, turn red it’s like watching your teenage relationship with your mother unfold before your eyes with a different appreciation than you had when you were 13.

Unlike recent Pixar stars Soul and Upside downmore oriented towards the adult public, turn red It’s more of a kid’s movie than an adult movie. While Shi introduces mature themes like generational tension, the film’s message is simple, direct, and aimed at tweens: life is messy, and there’s nothing wrong with accepting it.

turn red is a big debut for Shi, and its unique aesthetic shows Pixar’s willingness to innovate and explore different styles from their earlier catalog. The film is a truthful portrayal of the awkwardness, embarrassment and horror of growing up, but wrapped up in a giant, fluffy red panda – a great balance of substance and style. (Pixar/Disney)

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