Movie Summary: Turning Red (Spoilers)

Turning Red is an Excellent Coming of Age Movie with a Sweet and Heart Warming Plot Line.

Turning Red is an Excellent Coming of Age Movie with a Sweet and Heart Warming Plot Line.

Emily Eigenbrode

Turning Red is a 2022 American Animated Fantasy Comedy film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. The film was directed by Domee Shi in her directorial debut, and produced by Lindsey Collins. Turning Red stars the voices of Rosalie Chaing, Sandra Oh, Ava Morse, Hyein Park, Orion Lee, among many others. This is Pixar’s 25th animated film. 


The film had its world premiere at the El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles on March 1, and was released on Disney+ on March 11, 2022. The movie ran in a select number of theaters and has received critical acclaim from critics. 


The plot surrounds Meilin “Mei” Lee who is a 13 year old Chinese Canadian girl living in Toronto. She helps take care of the family’s temple that is dedicated to their ancestor Sun Yee. Mei works day and night to make her strict overprotective mother proud by getting good grades at school and working at the temple. 


Mei has many interests, one of them being “4*Town” who is the hottest boy band in the area that her and her friends, Miriam, Priya, and Abby love. Mei feels like she has to hide her interests from her mother because she knows she won’t approve of them. 


Later on in the movie Mei discovers that she has a crush on Devon who is the local store clerk. She draws pictures of him all night, but when her mom walks in, she finds her notebook and goes straight to the store where he works. When Ming gets to the store she confronts him and embaresses Mei in Public, including in front of the school bully Tyler. This embarrassment caused Mei to have nightmares of the Red Pandas in her family’s Temple. 


The next morning we see, Mei has transformed into a large Red Panda. She hides from her parents and discovers that she only transformers into the panda when she experiences a large amount of emotion. Ming believes that Mei is experiencing her first period, but she then finds out what is actually happening when she embarrassing Mei again at school. When Ming is spying on Mei at school and ultimately runs to the school with pads in her hand this causes Mei to experience a high amount of anger which causes her to turn into a panda. This then causes her to run home and Ming starts to run after her. 


Ming and Jin (Mei’s Father), explain to her that Sun Yee was guaranteed this transformation to protect her daughters, and every female family member since then has also transformed when they came of age. Back then it was very helpful. Nowadays this has become an extreme inconvenience and dangerous, therefore the red panda spirit must be sealed in a talisman by a ritual on the night of a red moon. The red moon in Meis’ case will begin in exactly one month. Mei soon takes a liking to her transformation, and she also finds it easier to control the red panda and make it appear and disappear when she wants. 


Ming allows Mei to return to her normal life, but refuses to let Mei attend the 4*Town upcoming concert. Instead, the girls decided to secretly raise money by exploiting the popularity of Mei’s Red Panda. Something that’s important to note is that the more Mei uses her red panda abilities the harder the ritual is to get rid of the panda. To cover the last ticket, Mei agrees to attend Tylers birthday party as the Red Panda. At the party, Mei finds out that the concert will be held on her ritual night, which means she is left with a harsh decision. Once she finds out she is in rage, and she attacks Tyler when he insults her family, frightening the other children. Ming soon discovers what Mei has been doing and accuses her friends of corrupting and taking advantage of her. Due to her fear of her mother, she does not come to her friend’s defense and buries her head into her mom’s chest. 


Mei’s grandmother, Wu, thinks Ming is not doing her duty as a mother during this time, so she decides to fly in to assist with the ritual. Ming pleads for her not to come, but ultimately she loses the battle and Wu ends up coming. As Mei is preparing herself for the ritual, her dad, Jin finds videos she took of herself as the Red Panda with her friends, he then tells her that she should not be ashamed of this side of her. Throughout the whole movie Jin seems to be the only one who is understanding, caring, and not overly strict with Mei. During the ritual the family sings a song that then lifts Mei into the air, and right as Mei’s red panda form is about to be sealed, she decides to keep her powers and flees the ritual to attend the concert at the SkyDome. 


At the concert, her friends forgive her for her actions at the party, and they also discover that Tyler is a 4*Town Fan. However, while she is escaping her ritual, she accidentally damages her mothers talisman. Since Ming’s talisman is now broken, she turns into a humongous red panda and disrupts the concert by tearing the venue apart. Ming tries to take Mei by force. During the fight they argue about Mei’s independence, and then Mei accidentally knocks her mother unconscious. 


To help Ming get into the circle to help her get the panda out of her again, Wu and the rest of the aunts break their talismans. Mei’s friends and even 4*Town joined in singing to complete the ritual once she got in the circle. This sends Mei, Ming, and the other women to the Astral Plane where they are then able to get the Red Panda out of them again. While there, Mei and her mother make up, which then helps her mom mend her bond with her mother, whom Ming accidentally scarred in anger before sealing her Red Panda form. Finally, all the women seal their red pandas in their new talismans, except Mei who decides to keep hers, and Ming accepts that she is turning into her own person and she can’t always have hawk eyes on her. 


Later on, the family raises money to repair the damages made at the concert through Mei turning into a red panda for crowds to see. Here we see her spending more time with her friends and family and her Red Panda form is now praised and accepted. 


In the end, I thought Turning Red was a very good movie. There was just the right amount of funny aspects and emotion. The ending of the movie gave me a warm feeling as it was nice to know that she was finally accepted and even praised for who she is. This movie is an excellent life lesson for a lot of people that sometimes they just need to persevere and in the end they will be accepted even if it takes time. Overall, I would recommend this movie and I give it 8/10 stars.