Pixar’s newest “Turning Red” trailer teases a coming-of-age film that blends together teenage angst with cute and cuddly monstrous transformations. The newest trailer provides a little more insight as to why Mei Lee (Rosalie Chaing) undergoes these changes when her emotions are put under stress, her reaction to it, and her eventual embrace. But as the trailer will reveal, Mei will have to deal with a lot in order to keep things under control, especially when it comes to the watchful eye of her mother, Ming (Sandra Oh).
“Turning Red” is directed by Domee Shi, the Academy Awawrd-winning director behind the Pixar short “Bao.” While the film centers on this coming of age story it is told through an Asian lens. And that cultural nuance can be seen throughout the trailer as it makes use of the red and green – colors associated with luck and wealth – , uses culinary favorite dishes like congee, and has Mei transforming into a giant red panda.
But it also connects to a large audience through the teenage experience. And here we see how Mei loves spending time with her friends while also being dedicated to school and her extracurricular activities. But as the pressure to be perfect starts to weight on her, she hits a unique form of puberty that has her turn into a giant red panda. While the changes occur when she exhibits a strong emotion, Mei decides to embrace it and use it to her advantage. Of course, when you’re a teenager with little life experience, having the power to transform into a red panda might get a little out of hand.
The first trailer may have featured one of the Backstreet Boys’ greatest hit, but this one makes use of their archrival boy band, N’Sync. Now, the use of their songs wasn’t just for nostalgia. Ming strongly disapproves of Mei’s obsession with boy bands and sees it more as a distraction. As such, she rebels and shares her obsession with her friends.
According to “Turning Red” director Domee Shi, if you set a 13-year-old girl’s coming-of-age story in the early 2000s, it’s pretty much mandatory to include a boy band. “We needed our character Mei to be obsessed with something that her mom would not approve of,” said Shi. “Boy bands were the first step into the world of boys for a lot of girls that age. The guys were all super pretty, polished, soft and loving, and they had of way of bringing girls and their besties together. Plus, I thought it’d be really cool to create an animated boy band.”
Enter Pixar’s first-ever boy band, 4*Town. Filmmakers called on GRAMMY®-winning singer-songwriters Billie Eilish and FINNEAS to write the fictional band’s songs—three in total, including the song “Nobody Like U” featured in the new trailer. “When we first started talking about Billie Eilish and FINNEAS—back before they’d won a billion GRAMMYS—we could see then how they had their finger on the pulse,” said producer Lindsey Collins. “We were big fans. We met with them and pitched this crazy idea of a boy band, asking if they’d be interested in writing and producing the songs. They were!”
Eilish, whose sophomore album, “Happier Than Ever,” debuted at No. 1 in the Billboard 200 in the U.S. and in 19 countries worldwide, made history as the youngest artist to win in all the major categories at the 62nd GRAMMY® Awards, receiving an award for best new artist, album of the year, record of the year, song of the year, and best pop vocal album.
FINNEAS, the youngest ever to win the GRAMMY® for producer of the year (non-classical), built a sterling discography penning and producing smashes for a cadre of superstars—not only for his sister, Billie Eilish, but also Justin Bieber, Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez, Camila Cabello, Tove Lo, Kid Cudi and Ben Platt, among others. His debut solo album “Optimist” is out now.
GRAMMY®-, Oscar®- and Emmy®-winning Swedish composer Ludwig Göransson (“Black Panther,” “The Mandalorian”) is composing the score for “Turning Red.” “I’ve been a fan of his for a while,” said Shi. “We were drawn to his versatility—he’s a composer, but he also produces pop music. We knew he would help us create a very unique sound.”
Joining previously announced Rosalie Chiang and Sandra Oh, who lend their voices to Mei and her mother Ming, are Orion Lee as the voice of Mei’s dad, Jin, and Wai Ching Ho as the voice of Grandma. Mei’s tightknit group of friends are voiced by Ava Morse as Miriam, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan as Priya, and Hyein Park as Abby. Tristan Allerick Chen voices classmate Tyler, and Addie Chandler lends his voice to Mei’s secret crush Devon. Providing the harmonious voices of the members of 4*Town are Jordan Fisher, Grayson Villanueva, Josh Levi, Topher Ngo and Finneas O’Connell. Rounding out the voice cast are James Hong, Lori Tan Chinn, Lillian Lim, Mia Tagano, Sherry Cola, Sasha Roiz and Lily Sanfelippo.
Here’s the official plot synopsis for “Turning Red”
Disney and Pixar’s “Turning Red” introduces Mei Lee (voice of Rosalie Chiang), a confident, dorky 13-year-old torn between staying her mother’s dutiful daughter and the chaos of adolescence. Her protective, if not slightly overbearing mother, Ming (voice of Sandra Oh), is never far from her daughter—an unfortunate reality for the teenager. And as if changes to her interests, relationships and body weren’t enough, whenever she gets too excited (which is practically ALWAYS), she “poofs” into a giant red panda!
Directed by Academy Award® winner Domee Shi (Pixar short “Bao”) and produced by Lindsey Collins “Turning Red releases on March 11, 2022.