Mean Girls, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,The Shape of Water… many blockbusters have been filmed in Toronto in the last few years. However, this is the first time that the action of a full-length animated Disney-Pixar movie is set in the “Queen City” of Canada.
Directed by the Chinese-born Canadian filmmaker Domee Shi (who won an Oscar for her touching short film Bao), Turning Red follows a confident 13-year-old Chinese-Canadian named Mei Lee (Rosalie Chiang). As she grapples with being the perfect daughter, she awakens to a family curse that turns her into a giant red panda whenever she gets excited or stressed. She hopes to break the curse on the next Red Moon with the help of her overprotective and strict mother (Sandra Oh) but unfortunately, things don’t go quite as planned…
In addition to celebrating Chinese culture customs and traditions, the film shows – with a touch of humour – emotional highs and lows of pre-teens, who can swing regularly from being happy to being sad. We might recognize ourselves or our loved ones in Mei Lee for many reasons: she wants to be more independent in life, she likes to hanging out with her friends, she loves boy bands, she’s loud and messy sometimes and we also admire her courage to show her true colours to the world.
Even more, Turning Red is a great way to (re)discover Toronto. From the streetcars, to the CN Tower, the graffiti-covered alleys and tree-lined streets laden with cherry blossoms, the film showcases so much of what’s to love about Ontario’s capital. In a Disney press release, Domee Shi said: “I made Turning Red a love letter to Toronto and everything Canadian […] I cannot wait for Canadian audiences and people around the world to see the film, and hopefully fall in love with Canada just like I have.” Funny, colourful and packed with action and dynamic songs (including those written by siblings Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell),Turning Red is a must-see movie.