People Are Turning Red About Turning Red. Worth Watching?


Anne Elise Cairns, Contributor

The newest addition to Disney Pixar has sparked much controversy with a surprising lack of middle ground. The movie tackles growing up in a way that has arguably not been covered before. The movie highlights puberty and the relationship tweens and teens can have with it.    

It is safe to say that upon hearing the opinions others had had, going into the film (even slightly) impacted some people’s outlook on the movie. IMDB rates Turning Red a 7.1/10 while Rotten Tomatoes has a 94% Tomatometer and a 73% audience rating. The critics felt it was a heartwarming family-friendly film and while the audience agrees, they do not discredit the uncertainty parents may have (though it does not take away from the familiar Pixar animation and expectations). I asked Bob Jones students their initial perspective, and this is what they had to say:

“It was another Disney movie that came out. I thought it wasn’t going to be as good as it was.”

“I thought it was just a cute kid’s film and did not really understand the controversy surrounding it.”

“I thought it would be a cool movie to watch. It looked fun and I was excited to see it.”

“I had heard some mixed things about it, but was overall expecting it to be good, since a lot of what I had heard had felt really picky or silly, or it was those criticizing did not seem to understand the movie.”

“Not hopeful nor excited, I had already heard bad things about the film.”

“My brother didn’t like it so I was skeptical.”

Throughout the movie, the main character Mei, a 13-year-old, is on a journey of self-discovery. Whenever she has an overwhelming surge of emotion she transforms into a large red panda. She is depicted accurately as the majority of middle schoolers behave. It is much more in tune than other depictions of middle schoolers we have seen in the past. They felt their age rather than seeming they’ve been forced to operate at a higher level for plot convenience. Bob Jones senior Adam Tong states, “I really enjoy how the kids in this movie feel like kids, and not celebrity actors doing impressions of what they think a kid would be. It might be a little ‘cringe-worthy’ to some, but weren’t we all?” Thinking about my own experiences, the secondhand embarrassment/cringe-worthy moments felt similar if not the same as I would looking back on my middle school self. Yes, we may wince in embarrassment at the actions of the characters, but it is an authentic display of middle school life. Appropriately, the movie also touched on protective/overbearing parents. Meilin’s mother, Ming, tends to more often than not be like her shadow. In one particular scene, she is seen being talked to by a security guard from behind a tree in the courtyard through Mei’s classroom window. Movies have been over this concept before but it tends to be most often in a negative sense. The characters work through their suffering throughout the movie and the mother even admits feeling like she would not meet her own mother’s expectations of her. Bob Jones senior Sam Kruger’s thoughts sum up this perspective nicely, “I haven’t seen this type of mother character before, who’s overbearing but not nasty about it. And most importantly, this ongoing theme of breaking generational trauma is wonderful, and I think it has approached the perfect generation. Be cringe, my guys. Be free.” 

Overall it is understandable where people are coming from with the skepticism towards the movie, but if there were to be more of an open outlook for handling topics in this way it would help to have a more positive mindset in the future. Bob Jones senior, Katie Tanner offers her perspective, “I think a lot of parents are saying they don’t like the movie and don’t think it’s appropriate because it mentions things like periods, crushes, etc. when in reality they don’t like that they are just like the controlling parents in the movie.” You cannot appease everyone in the filmmaking industry so it is only natural some of the audience were not as celebratory as the rest. I found it to be in line visually as well as emotionally with other Disney films. It is a cute movie, and if you like Disney, you’ll like Turning Red.