Movie Night!

Should Your Kids Watch Pixar’s ‘Turning Red’?

The animated film, about a 13-year-old girl who turns into a giant panda whenever she gets emotional, is now streaming.

Good news for your movie-loving kids: Turning Red, Pixar’s latest offering, is now available to watch from the comfort of your own home on Disney +. The animated flick is about a 13-year-old girl named Mei Lee (voiced by newcomer Rosalie Chiang) who poofs into a giant red panda whenever she gets overly excited — which is practically always.

Directed and co-written by Domee Shi, the Oscar-winning women director of the short film Bao, Turning Red follows Mei as she struggles to find a balance between obeying her protective mother Ming (Sandra Oh) and enjoying the chaos that is adolescence. It’s a coming-of-age tale, set in Toronto’s Chinatown in 2002, that parents and their kids will enjoy as it dissects the throes of puberty and early teenage-hood.

But who is the ideal audience, and is the movie any good?

Where To Watch Turning Red

Turning Red is now streaming on Disney+ for free for all subscribers. (For international markets where the streaming service isn’t available, the film will be released theatrically at a later date.) It is now the third consecutive Pixar movie — following Luca and Soul to skip theaters and go straight to streaming due to the pandemic. (Although select theaters in cities like New York and Los Angeles will be showing the flick.)

Which Age Group Is Turning Red For?

Turning Red is rated PG and recommended for children over the age of 6. Something to consider: Encanto, Raya and the Last Dragon, Moana and Zootopia are all rated PG. Thematic material and language may be suggestive and not suitable for younger children.

The trailer for Turning Red

Who’s In Turning Red?

The movie stars newcomer Rosalie Chiang as Mei Lee, Sandra Oh as her mom Ming, Orion Lee as her dad Jin, and Ava Morse, Hyein Park and Maitreyi Ramakrishnan as her friends Miriam, Abby and Priya, respectively.

The film also features catchy boy band music written by Grammy-winning siblings Billie Eilish and Finneas, who also voices a member of Mei’s favorite boy band 4*Town.

And it’s Pixar’s first movie to be solely directed by a woman.

What Are Reviews Saying About Turning Red?

In her New York Times review, Maya Phillips says the film “lives and breathes on the complex emotional relationship between a mother and a child preparing to leave the nest” — similar to Domee Shi’s Bao, in which a mother raises a steamed bun child from birth to adulthood.

“This is where Turning Red gets sticky,” Phillips continued. “Though the plot’s red panda magic is rooted in its characters’ cultural traditions (the Lees honor an ancestor who defended her family with the power of a red panda), these details aren’t enough to absolve the film of its kid-friendly version of exoticism. After all, its characters profit off Mei’s cute and foreign transformation.”

Tomris Laffly of Roger Ebert called Turning Red “a radical, brazenly hormonal PG movie that instantly fills a huge void in the lives of awkward, novel female teens who might just be starting to crawl out of their childhood cocoons with a disharmony of mystifying awakenings and sexual feelings.”

Rolling Stone’s Jessica Kiang says the movie “turns a bright red metaphor for the elation and confusion of coming-of-age into something delightful.”

And The Hollywood Reporter’s David Rooney said that although young women are clearly the target audience for this film, “the infectious humor, the crazy energy, the inventive visuals and heartwarming wisdom all should broaden the appeal.”

Variety’s Peter Debruge praised director Shi, saying that “by unleashing her inner panda, she’s given girls everywhere inspiration to do the same.”