‘Turning Red’ Review: Beware the Red-Furred Monster

In the endearing but flawed coming-of-age movie directed by Domee Shi, a 13-year-old girl loses her temper and changes into a red panda.

Rosalie Chiang, 13, is a lot like other girls her age in that she enjoys dancing, has affections on young guys, and has a close group of eccentric but devoted friends who share her love with the kids in the glossy-lipped band 4 * Town.

‘Turning Red’ Review: Beware the Red-Furred Monster


‘Turning Red’ Review: Beware the Red-Furred Monster

She is a Chinese Canadian as well, and in 2002 she moved to Toronto with her family, where they run a shrine. She assists her adoring but proud mother Ming (Sandra Oh) there and strives to be the ideal young lady, even if that means repressing her own desires and feelings.

This gets much more difficult when she undergoes her changes—not the human-to-panda kind. The uniqueness

Turning Red, a short film directed by Domee Shi, excels particularly in terms of conception and design. Mei is intelligent, creative, and confident, with the lovable conceit of the popular nerd from middle school.

The gamine skater girl Miriam, the deadpan Priya, and the gloriously intense Abby make up Mei’s cool trinity of female companions.

Ming also achieves a superb balance between autocratic and amative behaviour.

ignoring Mei’s passions and friends while at the same time stalking her around university to stack ready-to-tie buns on her. Shi observes

The movie employs subtle yet reliable tactics to show the individualities of even the secondary characters, from Mei’s grandmother’s (Ho-Wai Ching) stiffly applied makeup to the flashy open-toed shoes of the group of aunties who follow Grandma Lee around.

These changes in her mental state are complemented by the movements of Mei’s panda shape, with her hair lying flat when she is peaceful and standing on end when she is insane. It should not be a surprise that Shi’s teachings are most effective in this situation and when used with this type of language;

Similar to her Oscar-winning Pixar short “Bao” from 2018, “Turning Red” centres on the mother-child relationship as the latter gets ready to leave home. Shi uses a culturally unique metaphor in this work to express the emotions of her characters, much like she did in “Bao,” where a mother raises a kid symbolised by a bun from infancy to adulthood.

Plot of Turning Red

The problem with “Turning Red” is that while the red panda magic’s roots in the protagonists’ social customs (the Lees honour an ancestor who protected her family by channelling the might of a red panda), it isn’t enough to get rid of the movie’s kid-friendly brand of exoticism. The show’s stars are still a big draw, though.

Since they are at the centre of the plot of the movie, the ladies in Mei’s family serve as the antagonists. Or, more precisely, the oppressive gender stereotypes and household presumptions that women stand for.

t’s easy to conclude that all of these women conform to the stereotype of cold, heartless Asian women given that they are all affected with the same red panda sickness.

Cast of Turning Red

This is especially true considering that Mei’s grandmother is given a shady opening scene that you may typically reserve for the gangster movie’s director. Is the movie rejecting typecasting or embracing it? For any helpful information to be provided, the borders are too hazy.

In the end, we discover that Mei is not the only victim of the issue thanks to knowledge, compassion, and a pandapocalypse.

I do, however, wonder how the movie would have turned out if the problem hadn’t been limited to this women’s gender. Despite its chaos, “Turning Red” contains some delectable morsels, such a few allusions to the early 2000s (Tamagchis and the craze for K-pop before BTS).

Last Words

Thanks to Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas O’Connell, the tracks on 4 * Town are flawless recreations of well-known songs from the 2000s and are easily recognisable. Unfortunately, “Turning Red” struggles with its storytelling, but at least it enjoys itself when it lets loose. A PG rating is given to The Red Tide.

1 hour and 39 minutes long. Disney+ has it available. Thanks for reading our article ‘Turning Red’ Review: Beware the Red-Furred Monster.