Movie Review: Turning Red

Another movie I’ve been meaning to get to for a while. This one, I’d heard conflicting things. Some people said they loved it, and some people said it was way too heavy handed and just another case of movie studios trying to be too preachy. (Of course, most of the sources for the latter came from the same folks who said Frozen was bad because it was way too preachy about pushing the “gay agenda.” So I wasn’t really taking the warnings too seriously.)

I had a chance to watch the movie over the weekend with the family, and I really enjoyed it.

If you’re not aware, it’s about a 13 year-old girl named Mei, who discovers when she hits puberty that the women in her family magically start turning into giant red pandas when they get too emotional, starting at that age. This is sprung on her with no warning, and she is naturally more than a little concerned. It’s all about how she learns to deal with this trait, and the family troubles the secret dragged to light.

First off, yes: puberty plays a significant role in the movie. And yes, that means the mom actually mentions pads as something she’s got for her daughter. Gasp! And yes, you can easily read into the movie about how it also relates to a child setting out on their own for the first time, and becoming who they want to be, and not who their parents want them to be. Perhaps if my children were all younger than 12, this would be alarming to me. It’s easy when they’re that young to assume (like Mei’s mom) that they’re always going to be the same as they’ve been so far growing up.

But then your kids start actually growing up and becoming who they want to be, and not necessarily who you want them to be, and you realize this movie is spot on in many ways. I won’t say it’s spot on for everyone, because what story is, but it definitely resonated with me.

(On a side note, one of the critiques of the film was that since it was about the Chinese/Canadian scene in Toronto, it was catering to too small a slice of the world, and not many people would relate to it. That’s utter hogwash. I am neither Chinese, nor Canadian, nor a woman, a mother, a 13 year-old, or a red panda. (That I’m aware. Maybe there’s a latent trait in my family for men who hit 45. I still have a few more years to go.) I still really connected to the movie and the characters, the same way I connected to UP, despite not being an aged widower, a cub scout, or a golden retriever.))

Talking it over with my kids, MC liked it a lot because it had a big red panda in it that did funny things. Tomas and Daniela both related to the story of Mei growing up and being more of an individual. So it had pretty wide ranging appeal, and it managed to do all of that in a way that was engaging.

Your mileage may vary, and I’m sure there are some who will feel like the puberty angle is either too much or inappropriate in a children’s movie, but I gave it a 9/10.

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