The next film in Pixar’s notorious cast, Turning Red, directed by Oscar-winning actress Domee Shi and told through the eyes of a 13-year-old girl, had big shoes to fill in introducing audiences to streaming-only cinema faced release.
“To redden”, Pixar Animation Studios latest movie, brings the nostalgic atmosphere of the 2000s back to life through the eyes of a 13-year-old. Talk about CRINGE in the most understandable way possible.
But even with a running time of one hour and forty minutes, director Domee Shi lets this film go by in no time. In a way, this is a good thing. This film has a perfect one-and-done vibe, although I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some kind of animated series in its future. However, Turning Red fits well with what Pixar does best: beautiful animation and heart-breaking messages.
Based on the character of Meilin – voiced by Rosalie Chiang – the audience gets a thoroughly captivating protagonist. However, this film presents something even more important than Meilin as its individual focal point: her friends Miriam, Priya and Abby, played by Ava Morse, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan and Hyein Park respectively. They are perhaps Meilin’s most important relationships alongside her mother Ming, voiced by Sandra Oh.
Essentially “Turning Red” shows the protagonist’s struggle to reconcile her relationship with her parents while discovering her own individuality, all through the lens of an adolescent 13-year-old.
Pixar is no stranger to this idea. Watching some of her latest movies such as “Soul,” “Luca,” and “Coco” demonstrate Pixar’s emphasis on individuality and balancing it in your relationships. The idea of staying true to yourself while navigating the world around you is no easy feat — whether that means going against the grain of your family or completely messing up the world around you.
This is also something Pixar is doing through the lens of many different perspectives. Something notable about the above movies, along with “Blushing” is how they all highlight different cultures and backgrounds. Pixar has made it possible for people from many different backgrounds to see themselves in the films they watch.
When these themes are combined with the use of 3D and 2D animation styles, the end result is simply beautiful to behold. The vibrant colors and quirky 2000s inspired motifs wrap you in a warm security blanket of nostalgia. The opening credits alone resemble the opening of the sitcom “That’s So Raven” combined with the animated version of Lizze’s inner thoughts from the show “Lizzie McGuire.” For viewers who have watched these shows every day after school, Turning Red’s opening evokes childhood memories mixed with the stunning and soothing atmosphere of Pixar animation.
Of course, let’s move on to what simply cannot remain without language: the film’s soundtrack. Specifically, the incorporation and formation of the band 4*Town, a boy band curated specifically for this film, starring Jordan Fisher as Robaire, Finneas as Jesse, Josh Levi as Aaron Z, Topher Ngo as Aaron T, and Grayson Villanueva as Tae Young. Despite being fictional and animated, the band hit it off No. 50 on the Billboard Top 100 chart with their incredibly catchy single “Nobody Like U”. This track appears so often in this film that you’ll no doubt be singing along long after the credits roll.
However, the most important aspects of this film can be boiled down to these two quotes. First: “I see you, Mei-Mei, you try to make everyone happy but you are so hard on yourself. And if I taught you how. I’m sorry.” This hard-hitting quote was said by Meilin’s mother, Ming, in a moment of desperation as she tried to bond with her daughter — who she’d slowly broken up with both physically and emotionally over the course of the film. This is a key statement of the film as it places the emphasis on healing generations.When Ming apologizes for the role she played in Meilin’s self-critical nature, it sets the tone of acknowledgment of an idea that often goes unspoken.
Injured people hurt people – but the cycle doesn’t always have to go on like this.
The second of the two most important quotes comes at the end. “We all have an inner beast. We all have a messy, noisy, weird part of ourselves hidden away. And many of us never let it out. But I did. And you?” The line is provided by Meilin in a narration at the end of the film as she summarizes everything she learned throughout the film.
Pixar is known to be about teaching lessons through its films, and one of the most important lessons to take away from this film is to be yourself – fully and freely. The film is undeniably a cringefest, but that’s what makes it work and feeds right into its closing message. When you’re 13, you don’t necessarily worry all the time about what people will think of you, you just do it to yourself. When you get older and you look back and you’re like, “Oh god, that was so embarrassing,” because you’re looking at it all so much more critically now. Turning Red brings back that freedom you felt when you were 13, and having a crush on a boy who works at the corner shop was life or death.
Overall, this movie is funny, relatable, and downright endearing. It’s a fun watch when you need to clear your head or wear something on while doodling in a notebook. So if you need some good old 2000s nostalgia and suddenly have a craving for aesthetically pleasing animation, this is the film for you.
Remember, it’s okay to get messy, loud, and even a little weird.