Growing pains and gains: 'Turning Red' review

Kristofer Purnell - Philstar.com
Growing pains and gains: 'Turning Red' review
A scene from "Turning Red".
Disney Pixar

MANILA, Philippines — One of the small advantages of Disney+ not yet being available in the Philippines is that Filipino audiences of all ages will get to enjoy Pixar's newest movie "Turning Red" on the big screen.

"Turning Red" follows the obedient, straight-A yet spunky Mei, voiced by Rosalie Chiang, who after an embarrassing experience of pre-teen life wakes up one day with the ability to turn into a huge red panda when she gets emotional.

Mei has to deal with this new change in her life while trying to maintain the two most important things to her: the approval of her mother, voiced by "Grey's Anatomy" and "Killing Eve" star Sandra Oh, and being able to go with her best friends to a concert.

Comparisons will be drawn to Disney's latest hit "Encanto," a previous Pixar flick "Brave" and even Sony's "The Mitchells vs. The Machines." But director Domee Shi—an Oscar winner for the short film "Bao"— manages to make this a special heart-tugging watch as she draws from her own experiences living in Toronto where the movie is set.

Shi is also the first woman to solely direct a Pixar film, and with co-writer Julia Cho producing a story that will have people flashing back to their adolescent periods, no matter what cultural background one comes from.

In many ways, "Turning Red" is Pixar's most mature movie yet. The allusions to menstruation and its mere acknowledgement is a big improvement for the studio, which is something that its parent company Disney could take a page out of.

As much as it is a story about puberty and becoming a teenager, it is also about the relationship between children and their parents. Kids will never want to let their moms and dads down, and parents also do not want their children to be disappointed in them.

It is exactly that dynamic, especially with Sandra Oh's fantastic voice acting, which makes "Turning Red" a tearjerker no matter one's age. Additionally, the film has such LSS-inducing bangers, with music by Billie Eilish, Finneas and "Black Panther" composer Ludwig Göransson.

Continuing from "Luca," Pixar's animation continues to get better and better, funnier even as it incorporates Asian animation traits in several sequences.

'90s kids will be thrown back to so much memories this movie touches on — Tamagotchis, boy bands, secret crushes that you hide from your mother. It makes one realize that growing up was both a difficult and fun time.

"Turning Red" will show kids as well as remind older viewers that first, it is okay to be weird and imperfect because you will be loved for who you are; and that secondly, red pandas are absolutely adorable!

RELATED: 'Encanto' song surpasses Frozen's 'Let It Go' as highest-charting Disney hit


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