Anchor Staff Writer
On Friday, March 11, Disney + premiered their newest Pixar movie, “Turning Red.” Being completely honest, I was probably the most excited one in the family to watch it. Red pandas are my favorite animal and I was intrigued to see how Disney incorporated this adorable creature into their new movie. My four little ones were just as joyous to watch. The film touches upon a ton of topics such as generational trauma, puberty/sexuality, teenage rebellion, friendship and body image issues; topics we don’t often see brought to the forefront in Disney movies. As any true Disney buff knows, many times these topics are still there, just more discreet. While I was at first surprised at the premise of the film when watching, I was ultimately proud of Disney for bringing up these topics.
The movie centers around the main character, Meilin Lee, better known as “Mei.” Mei is a 13 year old girl who is torn between being an obedient daughter and the tumultuous nature of being a teenager. She undergoes some serious peer pressure from her friends to go against her parents wishes and go to a concert for their favorite boy band 4*Town. She is distraught over what to do but ultimately decides not to go against her parents. Being teenagers, Mei’s friends are completely boy crazy and they get her interested in the local convenience store clerk. Mei draws pictures of her and the boy together (let’s be honest, what 13 year old girl doesn’t do that) and her mother finds the notebook. Mei is mortified, and her mom is infuriated. Without even accepting an explanation, she marches Mei to the convenience store to confront the clerk. Mei is not only embarrassed but is made fun of as well by onlookers. The pressure results in her inner red panda to come out – literally. Mei transforms into a massive version of this cuddly creature.
Throughout the film, Mei learns to control her inner panda, but also learns to become her own person. The film deals with the obligations of family, becoming your own independent self and many other teenage dilemmas. Overall, I thought the film was enjoyable. I felt the characters were well developed throughout the movie. Although the topics were not ones we normally see so bluntly in a Disney film, I for one was glad they were there. As a mother of three boys and a little girl, the topics brought up some conversations, but nothing out of the ordinary.
“Turning Red” has also been turning many heads and seeing some harsh criticism across media outlets. While many viewers do enjoy the movie and see it as comical and true to the teenage world, others fear that it talks too much about boys, defiance and coming into womanhood. This film tries to tackle so many so-called taboo topics. So many of those criticizing the film fear that this will give girls of this age group questionable ideas. As an educator of 13 and 14 year olds, many of which are girls, I can tell you that I see my students deal with these topics on a daily basis. It may not be all butterflies, rainbows, princesses and puppies, but this Disney film deals with much more real and relatable issues. Besides, who doesn’t love a giant red panda?