Turning Red—the third film in a row from Pixar (after Soul and Luca) to hit Disney+ without a theatrical run—is not one of Pixar’s best, but it’s a solid-enough offering that one would think Disney would’ve at least given it a limited theatrical release on the day it went to streaming.
Nope. For the time being, Pixar seems to be one of the main entities Disney is using to get folks to sign up for Disney+—so if you want to take your kids to a theater, I guess you are going to have to let them see The Batman.
The film, directed and co-written by Domee Shi, tells the story of Meilin, a 13-year-old Chinese-Canadian girl living in Toronto around 2002. She’s dealing with the usual teenager stuff, like a budding interest in boys, celebrity fandom, body changes and the need for some independence from Mom and Dad. Also … she begins turning into a large red panda upon becoming excited, angry or alarmed. It’s a family thing.
This is one of the more frantic, fluorescent Pixar films, which works for the story. It moves along at a nice clip, and the bright colors feed the mostly happy vibe. The story Shi is telling is obviously allegorical—the color red has plenty of implications in the screenplay—and this is a good film for a family to watch with all of the pre-teens. Turning Red tackles a lot of those scary puberty dilemmas with heart and humor.
Pixar has made a lot of excellent movies, but this isn’t one of them. This doesn’t even make the upper half of the Pixar films ranking list. The fact that it is still good and a lot of fun is a testament to how great Pixar films usually are.
Next up for the animation giant is Lightyear, an origin story for Toy Story’s Buzz Lightyear, due to hit theaters in June—that is, unless some other SARS-CoV-2 variant pops up and throws release schedules into disarray again. At the rate we’ve been going over the last two years, we aren’t going to see Top Gun: Maverick until Tom Cruise turns 75.
Turning Red is now streaming on Disney+.