“Turning Red” is monstrously charming

From the first few moments of Pixar’s brand new movie, “Turning Red,” it’s very clear what tone the audience is to expect. While good, the movie itself lacks in some key areas that Pixar has perfected over the years. While it is easy to say that “Turning Red” is fun, it is not one of Pixar’s best.

Released on March 11, the film follows 13-year-old Meilin Lee. She’s a straight-A student, but lives under familial pressures. Things take a turn when Mei wakes up one day to find she has been transformed into a giant Red Panda. She learns that she must remain calm in order to control the “inner panda,” as to not let it out and keep her overbearing mother proud.

The film is a clear metaphor for puberty among young girls, and more specifically, menstruation. Seeing pads and tampon packages animated is shocking at first, until you realize that it should not be. It will hit home for many older kids who’ve been through puberty. Similarly, the film’s depiction of an overbearing parent will be immensely relatable to anyone who has felt pressured by a family member. Mei’s mother views herself as a necessary constant force in every aspect of Mei’s life, and views her daughter less as a person, and more of an extension of herself. In a movie full of cartoonish imagery and wacky scenarios, this is a shockingly realistic way of how demanding parents function and how they attempt to live vicariously through their children.

Although it’s flawed, the film has many unique strengths. Mei is a generally likable protagonist and the depiction of her relationship with her mother was probably the highlight of the entire film. Their back-and-forth was both funny and a great reflection of how domineering parents talk to their kids.

Pixar has a skill for telling unique stories that are able to spark the imagination of the general public. So, it really was not surprising that they were able to pull off a cute, if not messy, allegory for a topic that needs much more discussion than it is getting in the real world. Experiencing puberty and confronting parents is not something to be ashamed of, but instead shows the strength and bravery of kids. “Turning Red” serves as a modestly fun time and will be able to speak to a generation of younger audiences looking for comfort and reassurance.

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