Reviews

Turning Red

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Disney;
Animated;
$29.99 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $43.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG’ for thematic material, suggestive content and language.
Voices of Rosalie Chiang, Sandra Oh, Ava Morse, Hyein Park, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Orion Lee, Wai Ching Ho, Tristan Allerick Chen.

Pixar’s Turning Red uses a heavy anime influence to tell a classic coming-of-age story.

Set in Toronto in the early 2000s, the film plays a bit like an Asian version of Teen Wolf (the 1980s comedy, not the 2010s dark fantasy show it inspired), as 13-year-old Mei (voiced by Rosalie Chiang) learns the women in her family inherit the ability to transform into a giant red panda when they become teenagers. Mei isn’t sure how to control her transformation, with the panda manifesting whenever she experiences strong emotions. Mei’s parents tell her the transformation can be removed by a ritual, but she must wait a few weeks for the moon to align.

In the meantime, Mei discovers she can regulate the transformation by thinking about her friends. When she and her friends need money to attend a boy band concert, she takes up an offer to appear as the panda at a rich kids birthday, which only causes friction with her strict mother (Sandra Oh). The metaphor for balancing self-discovery and duty to family is pretty straightforward.

Turning Red plays a bit like a spiritual successor to Pixar’s Oscar-winning 2008 short film Bao, another quirky look at a Chinese-Canadian family that told the story of a woman who imagines a dumpling coming to life as a stand-in for her child that moved out. Bao writer-director Domee Shi also directed and co-wrote Turning Red.

The film’s subject matter and an array of eccentric characters lend themselves to a number of imaginative and colorful sequences that provide plenty of fodder for Pixar to maintain its reputation for visual splendor, and Turning Red is one of the most distinctive efforts from the venerated animation house.

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The Blu-ray Disc edition includes a number of fun extras that offer plenty of behind-the-scenes information.

First up is an audio commentary with Shi, producer Lindsey Collins and director of photography Mahyar Abousaeedi that covers most of the bases, from the character designs to the film’s musical flavors.

The 14-and-a-half-minute “Life of a Shot” delves into the creative process by focusing on seven shots from the film, from conception to completion.

The nine-minute “Build Your Own Boy Band” featurette looks at how filmmakers pieced together the boy band that helps drive the story, from style to sound to choreography — a process that begins with listening to a lot of boy band music.

A Blu-ray bonus disc includes 23 minutes of deleted sequences, some of which are fully animated, and a 10-minute “Ani-Mei-Tion” featurette about the film’s visual style and anime influences.

The 4K disc contains just the movie and no bonus materials. All the extras in the 4K combo pack are on the two Blu-ray Discs, which are the same discs as the regular Blu-ray combo pack.

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