Turning Red: a Colorful Coming-of-Age Story



Mei’s first incident turning into the Red Panda in-public where she navigates the situation both mentally and physically (Tribune News Service)

Pixar’s latest movie, Turning Red, was released on February 21st of 2022. It is a coming-of-age story about a Chinese-Canadian teen struggling with puberty, emotions and her family’s expectations.

Because Turning Red is a Pixar production, many families with younger kids have jumped to watch it since its release in February.  Receiving a mix of positive and negative reviews, Turning Red has become one of the main topics of cinematic conversation.

 Some commenters argued that Turning Red shouldn’t be directed towards younger kids because puberty is an “inappropriate” topic, while others argued that this story was needed. 

Negative reviews on Google claimed that “Kids shouldn’t learn about puberty at a young age.” Positive reviews would talk about how they liked the message and the portrayal of teens who are unapologetically themselves, saying Turning Red strikes conversations between families about topics that aren’t normally depicted in media.”

Turning Red focuses on the topic of puberty both literally and metaphorically. Meilin (Mei) grew up in early 2000’s Toronto. She has a close group of friends that understand her in ways her parents don’t, and she loves her freedom. Her mother does not appreciate Mei’s independence; she has a difficult time letting go and accepting that Mei is her own person.

The Main Character, Meilin, introduces herself to the audience as a strong, capable person. (Tribune News Service)

As the story progresses, this conflict prevents Mei from accomplishing her goal of going to the concert, a goal she’s been working towards the entire movie. The movie explores the theme of friendship while also talking about family values by showing how Mei’s loyalty and responsibility to her family’s temple has kept her from her friends. We watch Mei find that balance between fulfilling her duties to her family and being loyal to her friends. These themes were inspired by the childhood of the director of this film, Domee Shi.

Everyone has a unique viewpoint, so here are the personal views of our authors;

Faith: As someone who doesn’t watch movies much, it wasn’t the best movie, but still entertaining and good to try. Based on the reviews, I definitely don’t agree with them. People who gave reviews would often say it’s inappropriate for kids. I definitely think it’s not and it’s not a big deal for kids to watch. There’s not a specific part I don’t like. It may be good for other people but maybe watching movies is just not my thing so I could be very picky.

Avni: As someone who can relate to the relationship between Mei and her mother, I enjoyed seeing the struggle of the two learning how to understand each other. The comments Mei’s mother made about her friends were very familiar to me as well as the overprotectiveness while Mei’s desire for freedom is something I wish for every day. Mei tries hard to make herself both the person her parents want and the person she wants to be, but not at the same time, she switches these facades like masks. Turning Red is the story of a second generation immigrant and her family as well as a story of a teen girl finding her place in her world.”

Overall, this movie was a fun and adventurous dive into the early 2000s through the eyes of a Chinese-Canadian teen girl, a perspective that is usually overlooked.