Pixar’s winning streak of critical acclaim has continued with the new animated film “Turning Red,” which hits Disney+ on Friday.
Directed by Domee Shi in her feature film debut and written by Shi and Julia Cho (“Halt and Catch Fire”), “Turning Red” follows Meilin “Mei” Lee, a 13-year-old Chinese-Canadian student, who is horrified to discover that whenever she gets too excited or stressed, she turns into a giant red panda. Mei later learns that her ancestors have a shared history with the species as a family curse, though the curse can be contained by performing a special ritual on one specific night which happens to coincide with a concert by her favorite boy band, 4*Town.
In a rave review for The Washington Post, writer Michael Sullivan wrote, “To paraphrase Sigmund Freud, sometimes a red panda is just a red panda. And sometimes it’s a metaphor for that inner spark of creativity, the flame of originality that is to be cherished, not extinguished. With ‘Turning Red,’ Shi demonstrates that she’s got it, in spades.”
On a similar note, Drew Taylor of The Playlist wrote that the film is “one of the most unique and unforgettable movies in Pixar’s grand pantheon,” while Screen Rant’s Ferdosa Abdi echoed, “There is no single frame of this film that isn’t maximizing this story’s potential, its wit, humor, or charm. Every moment counts and transforms ‘Turning Red’ into a visual feast.”
Writing for AV Club, Martin Tsai highlighted the film’s message of staying true to yourself amongst all odds, stating, “We all need a little reassurance once in a while to stay true to ourselves, and Turning Red is speaking directly to generations of Asian women in the diaspora when they need to hear this the most.”
However, there were some who felt a little split after watching the film including Movie Nation’s Roger Moore who wrote, “‘Turning Red’ isn’t so much a bad movie as a tentative one. It came to life with grand intentions, some cute characters, a ready-made toy tie-in and a hint of controversy. It plays as focus-grouped and watered-down — not the daring, boundary-pushing children’s edutainment it might have been.”
Benjamin Lee of The Guardian had a similar opinion, stating, “The journey is slick and diverting, and at times incisive, but ‘Turning Red’ is yet another Pixar film that coasts rather than glides. Hopefully, its next offering can turn into something more.”
The voice cast of the film includes Rosalie Chiang, Sandra Oh, Ava Morse, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Hyein Park, Orion Lee, Wai Ching Ho, and James Hong.
“Turing Red” starts streaming on March 11 on Disney+.
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