Confusing emotions and physical changes, the onset of puberty can be overwhelming for a teenager. Disney and Pixar’s latest animated tale Turning Red shows just that, and in the best possible way. The story revolves around Mei Lee, a 13-year-old, who is torn between being her mother’s obedient daughter and navigating the awkward world of being a young teenager. The film, directed by Domee Shi, tells an unabashedly female story with brave storytelling, solid animation, and strong female-led performances that highlights representation. From celebrating womanhood at its rawest, between mothers, daughters, and female friendships to marvelous visualization and inclusion, here’s why Turning Red is a must-watch.   

Breaking taboos about puberty

When Mei (voiced by actress Rosalie Chiang) gets overwhelmed, she transforms into a larger-than-life red panda, while her mother, Ming (voiced by Sandra Oh), is never far behind, overdoing it with the doting. Metaphorically, connecting the Panda to her period, the movie doesn’t shy away from the nitty-gritty of puberty, including tackling topics that aren’t spoken of openly.

Accurate representation 

Set in Toronto, Turning Red highlights the cultural aspects of immigrant families in Canada and smartly uses a multi-cultural urban setting to carry its narrative forward with the food, décor, and beliefs of its immigrant characters. From Mei’s and Ming’s coiffed hair, to small cameos, such as a Sikh school guard and the festive red lanterns adorning Toronto’s Chinatown, the film offers visual nuggets that Asian audiences will relate to.    

All-female creative team

This is Disney and Pixar’s first film to have an all-female creative team, and that includes a female director, producer, visual-effects supervisor, and production designer among its lead creatives. Penned by Domee Shi and Julia Cho and produced by Lindsey Collins, the film’s characters have been voiced by Rosalie Chiang, Sandra Oh, Orion Lee, Ava Morse, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Hyein Park, Wai Ching Ho, James Hong, and others.

Celebrates friendship between women 

Just as the film embraces the dynamics of mother-daughter relationships, it triumphantly showcases the power of female friendships made in adolescence. The film features some of the most authentic and relatable relationships between teen girls. Mei’s friends — Miriam (Ava Morse), Priya (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), and Abby (Hyein Park) — are enthusiastically and unconditionally supportive of Mei and each other.

Turning Red is for all ages 

An animation does not mean it’s only for children. Turning Red is film that is equally valuable to parents dealing with adolescent kids, and the teenagers themselves. What makes this film stand out is its vibrancy and optimism, lauding tough moments and emotions that will resonate with every body. 

(Featured Image Credits: PR handouts)