Turning Red: Review


Syringa Garcia, Co-Editor 2021-2022

Pixar has gone through many stages. In the beginning, Pixar released masterpiece after masterpiece, movies that were creative beyond anything people had ever seen: classics. Eventually, Pixar was bought by Disney and went through a rough patch. It released a lot of sequels that could only really be described as, “meh,” and a couple of original movies that just didn’t live up to the Pixar standard. I was scared, I thought that Pixar was forever ruined. Then Covid came, and with it came Luca, and the world fell in love all over again. Turning Red seemed to be similar to Luca in a lot of ways: it was a fantasy story, it was about growing up, and the story related back to the creator on a personal level. Not to mention, the art styles resemble each other immensely. I had a lot of hope in the movie, but fear as well. There was always the possibility that Luca was just a happy accident. On February 21, 2022, Turning Red was released on Disney Plus and I watched it immediately.

So what did I think of the movie? As an artist I have to bring the art style up first; it caught my attention immediately. I saw a lot of people on the internet complaining about how they thought the art style was “ugly” or “lazy”, I also saw a lot of people that disagree with the previous statements. I have to agree with the naysayers on this one, I personally loved the art style. The art style really matched the character’s personality and it just felt right for a story about an eccentric middle school girl. The expressions were amazing, something that I also applauded Encanto for. In my opinion, cartoons should have really exaggerated facial expressions and gestures so they can show more emotion. They already have exaggerated proportions and features, after all. This is something that 2-D animation I feel has always done right, but I feel like 3-D animation hasn’t been brave enough to perfect until recently, especially in regards to their female characters. In general, the animation was beautiful, as expected from a Pixar movie.

I think there was a lot of good content in the movie. The mother-daughter relationship was very well written in my opinion. When I was in elementary and middle school, I was also a rule-following “mama’s girl” who needed her mom’s permission for every little thing. As I grew older, I started making my own decisions more than I previously did, and I was able to explore the world on my own. As I grew, so did my ideas and they didn’t always match up with my mom’s ideas, such as how I should dress. Mei didn’t struggle with how she dressed of course, but she did have different ideas of what was bad for her to like, believe, and do than her moms. Whenever the mom came into the picture I could see myself a little bit in Mei. Everyone goes through times like this at some point in their lives, no matter how small, it isn’t uncommon for people to have conflicting ideas with their family members.

I have to applaud the fact that everything felt so genuinely like things that would actually happen in middle school: the juvenile way the bully teased people, the way everyone instantly thought Mei was the coolest person to ever exist because she had some superpower, even the way that the main characters and bully instantly bonded over a fandom when they found out they were both part of it. And, obviously, I can’t talk about all of that without bringing up how accurate the fangirling over the boyband was. If you have ever seen fangirls on the internet, you would know that the portrayal was spot-on. I don’t really remember girls obsessing over One Direction or anything, I suppose I was too young back then, but I’ve seen young k-pop fans on the internet. They act exactly like Mei and her friends. I also love that it’s clear, even though their obsession is joked about a little, it isn’t out of a place of malice. The movie just treats it as a fun, harmless part of growing up. It acknowledges it’s a bit dramatic and embarrassing, but treats it as a normal thing. Another thing portrayed well was female puberty, which wasn’t used as a joke, but treated as a normal thing every girl goes through.

I know I keep praising the film, but I’m not going to claim that it was perfect. Some of the scenes with the mother did seem a bit over-exaggeratedly overbearing, which took the relatability out of the film a bit. It just didn’t seem like anything a normal person would do. The plot was also kind of predictable, I knew how it was going to end and there were no plot points or twists that blew my mind. However, I feel that movies like these are more about the joy you get from them and just relaxing and enjoying the characters because the characters really were fun. I genuinely laughed and smiled during so many parts of the movie and I actually got really hyped up during the finale. Yes, the movie didn’t make me want to cry like a regular Pixar film, but I don’t think that was the point of this movie. I think what the movie was trying to accomplish, it did. It wasn’t trying to be a life-changing masterpiece, and that’s okay. Not every movie needs to have a completely new concept or make you cry to be a good film in general.

My final thoughts on the movie, despite its flaws, I’d say it’s worth watching. Again, the movie just genuinely made me happy, the animation was on another level altogether, and you can just really tell the movie was made by people who genuinely cared about it.