Movie Review: Turning Red (2022)

Synopsis: When 13-year-old Toronto overachiever Meilin develops a crush on a 17-year-old store clerk, she learns of her family's "inconvenience," an ancient spell that turns the women into red pandas if they get too emotional. Her mother tells her she can be cured via a ritual performed on the night of the blood moon but only if she can control her emotions and keep the panda caged until then. However, when Meilin discovers her favorite boy band is coming to Toronto, she uses her panda form to earn money to buy tickets for her and her friends.

Who's in it? The animated movie uses voices from Rosalie Chiang, Sandra Oh, Ava Morse, Hyein Park and Orion Lee.

Review: I sometimes forget I pay for Disney Plus because it's not a streaming service that normally carries films I want to watch. However, we postponed this week's family movie night from Tuesday to Friday and this was a film my daughter wanted to see. Overall, I have to admit it was better than expected.

The movie is basically a clever way to broach the subject of puberty, something that I honestly was surprised to see in a Disney film, especially when Meilin (Chiang) first changed, and her mother (Oh) misunderstood and thought her daughter was having her first period (I personally think the dad's reaction to that was the best). I will be honest, some of the analogies didn't quite make sense to me. For example, when her mom got upset about Meilin showing off her panda for money, I wasn't sure if that was a reference to sexting, something else or if I was just reading into it too much.

Even without that, the movie did prove to be entertaining. I think the part I found funniest was the extreme way her mom redefined the concept of "helicopter parent." This included everything from her stalking her daughter at school and not seeming to care, in the least, if she embarrassed her by waving feminine hygiene products around and announcing Meilin was on her period. Frankly, after the incident at the convenience store, with her mom berating the clerk and accusing him of being a pervert because her daughter had drawn pictures of him, I agreed with my own daughter when she said Meilin should have just stayed home from school the next day.

I also thought the big panda battle at the end, between Meilin and her transformed mom, was entertaining. However, as I said, there are some parts of the movie that are a bit confusing as far as the whole puberty analogy goes and the ending following that battle is one of them (it felt as though it was saying girls had a choice to just skip puberty though, again, I might have been misinterpreting that).

Final Opinion: It's an entertaining and funny movie and it's worth watching solely because of that. And, while I think the whole puberty analogy doesn't always work, I do think it is a good film to watch as part of a larger discussion on the matter with your child.

My Grade: B


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