review by Bobby Blakey
Disney/Pixar never seems to miss the mark. Their release Luca was so good, but sadly didn’t get the theatrical push it deserved due to the pandemic. Now another film is getting the straight to Disney+ release with Turning Red starring Sandra Oh, Rosalie Chiang, Ava Morse, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan and James Hong from director Domee Shi who also did the brilliant short Bao. Could this be another fun and heart felt entry into the world of Pixar or will it fail to transform and bring the laughs?
Turning Red follows Mei Lee, a 13-year-old who suddenly “poofs” into a giant red panda when she gets too excited (which is practically ALWAYS). While the poster features a close-up of Mei's nerve-wracked red panda form, the trailer finds her experiencing an embarrassing transformation at school. With nowhere to hide, Mei escapes to a cluster of nearby rooftops. Soon, a bit of property damage will be the least of her concerns.
One of the things that I love with a lot of the more recent Disney and Pixar films are the inclusion of varying cultures that blend into the story’s bigger message. This is yet another one that while the legend of the families connection to the Red Panda is obviously the catalyst and front and center situation of the film it is really about so much more. They are touching on puberty, family, expectations and finding yourself all wrapped up in a fun and heart felt fantasy fun film.
As expected there is so much to unwrap here and works to perfection with the family legend. This brings in the varying members of the family and their own issues with themselves and each other as Lee is trying to find herself. The characters are all great fun to watch especially her circle of friends who all have great personalities. I loved the direction they went
and the acceptance of what is happening by those around her. Sure there is the usual fear and stress, but it also speaks to true love and friendship and the acceptance of being different.
As silly as this sounds a lot of the film reminded me of Teen Wolf in a good way with the direction of the dealing and use of the Panda curse. It is so funny, silly and heartfelt from beginning to end. It’s no surprise that it is visually stunning, filled with vibrant colors and designs that is a treat to the senses that will no doubt capture the attention of both kids and adults alike and punch it home with the messages that are perfectly crafted within.
Once again they have made a great film that brings everything you could want together for the whole family. It is sad that it didn't get the theatrical push it deserves, but also understand with the uncertain world we’ve been living in. In addition to the film this release offers up bonus content including deleted scenes, commentary, featurettes and more. Grab your copy of Turning Red available now on digital and then on 4K, Blu-ray and DVD on May 3rd from Disney Home Entertainment.