Going red is a story about puberty aimed at parents

As prophesied at the end of 2015 Contradictory, Pixar ventured into the wilds of puberty. This has certain timeline implications, as many kids have detoxed from the original marvels from the studio — like Toy Storyreleased almost 27 years ago — now adults who have children of their own and can worry about how to handle the most difficult transitions of youth, this time from the adult side of things.

To alleviate some parent’s anxiety, or at least wrap it up in something familiar, the new movie Turn red (Disney +, March 11) —written by Domee Shi and Julia Cho, and directed by Shi – immerse yourself in cozy nostalgia. The film is set in Toronto in 2002, at a time when the world is crazy about boy bands and Tamagotchis, while cell phones and the Internet are getting closer (ominously or not) towards world domination. gender. Today’s kids might not connect much with the pitfalls of the movie’s recent period. But adults will, and they too must be considered.

It is the main thematic thrust of Turn red: frustrating disconnection, and necessary compromises, between adolescents and parents, teenagers plunge headfirst into the world while their people at home grab hold of them and try to pull them back. No matter how strict or negligent a parent may be, the power of time cannot be stopped. The hormones, the willful whimsy, the frequent running away from home for further possibilities will come in the end – real parents can only be ready for that inevitability.

The body of puberty is clearly metaphorical in the movie. At the age of 13, middle school student Mei (Rosalie Chiang) are having some epiphany. It’s not just the distant idols of her favorite boy band, 4*Town, for whom she’s gaga; There are guys right there in her real life who, quite suddenly, also seem terribly interesting. Mei’s passions grow — for music, for friends, for boys with cute hair — when she wakes up one morning in the form of a giant red panda. Of course, puberty is actually going to be a bit more gradual than that. But at the time, it could have been completely like Mei’s one-night metamorphosis. What has she become? And is that something to be ashamed of?

That’s more than enough for a movie to grapple with. But Turn red Layer Mei’s physical riot with a mental strain, and familiarity. Just like the teenagers, Mei is having some trouble with her mother, Ming (Sandra Oh), a traditionalist who expects academic rigor and family obligations to take precedence over all else in her daughter’s life. The women in the Ming family find themselves, around the time of puberty, turning into red pandas when they get too excited. But that can be controlled, even erased, by some sort of spell cast under the red moon. Mei will have her wild personality, just like her mother did – and perhaps as all young women are told they should before things spiral out of control and fame, or worse, ruined.

Turn red avoid the malicious whispers of many previous Pixar films in favor of repulsive energy. It’s a noisy movie, perhaps to best reflect the tumultuous fireworks of a teenager’s mind. However, one yearns for a lighter touch here and there. The movie manages to have some poignant scenes, but then too quickly, too much excitement fades away before the moment really sinks in. That haste, I suppose, is another analogy to the ruthless moment of a young person trying to realize himself. But even the fastest growing kids slow down from time to time.

Aside from creating a lighthearted appeal to Millennials audiences, it’s unclear why the film is set 20 years ago. With that choice in mind, the filmmakers conveniently avoid any dialogue about the specific pitfalls of contemporary adolescent life. Maybe they believed it Turn redHer messages are pervasive enough that it’s not necessary to deal with TikTok. I hope children feel talked to the film, but its chronological proximity – what a distance, however – may, oddly, prove more alien than a series. The film is set hundreds of years ago.

Even so, I suspect that adolescence and young adulthood are not the real target. The film often seems square, intentional, aimed at their parents, instead offering a gentle (if busy) reminder to them that they too were once young, once bursting with enthusiasm. and curiosity and, yes, budding lust. (It’s odd to use the L word when writing about a Pixar film, but the studio has addressed so many other aspects of the human condition—death, loneliness, talking cars—to that it must get here at some point.)

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