We have to grow up at some point in time. Everyone’s process is different. Some are even beastly. The latter part is literally true for Disney•Pixar’s “Turning Red.” The animation studio’s latest feature comes from “Bao” director Domee Shi and marks the first time that a female person of color has helmed a Pixar film on her own.
In addition to “Bao,” Shi’s credits also include serving as a story artist for “Inside Out,” “The Good Dinosaur,” “Incredibles 2,” and “Toy Story 4.” And this wouldn’t be the first time that the director of a short got promoted to helming a feature film. Before Pixar’s latest hit “Luca” was released on Disney+, Enrico Casarosa directed the cute and sweet “La Luna.”
Here’s the official plot synopsis for “Turning Red:”
Rosalie Chiang lends her voice to Mei Lee, a 13-year-old who suddenly “poofs” into a giant red panda when she gets too excited (which is practically ALWAYS). Sandra Oh (“The Chair,” “Killing Eve”) voices Mei Lee’s protective, if not slightly overbearing mother, Ming, who is never far from her daughter—an unfortunate reality for the teenager.
Pixar is no stranger to turning themes into a beautifully visualized metaphor, and “Turning Red” continues that trend as the film explores the contemporary parent and child dynamic. It should resonate with any child struggling with an overbearing parent constantly hovering over them. What’s more, is that Pixar’s bigger hits are when they are culturally specific, like “Coco” and “Luca.” And Shi doesn’t shy away from celebrating her Chinese roots, as we saw in “Bao,” as the trailer sees Mei Lee in her red panda form running across a part of a city adorned with red lanterns. Not only that, but Shi also shows off her pride as a Canadian when Mei Lei turns back into a human and is seen wearing a Canadian flag shirt.
And it is fun to see the varying character designs of the respective Pixar films. Like “Bao,” “Turning Red’s” looks like it infuses a few anime influences into its characters. So I’m definitely interested in hearing more about that.
Directed by Shi and produced by Lindsey Collins, Disney and Pixar’s “Turning Red” releases March 11, 2022.