Is Disney’s Turning Red ok for children to watch? Turning Red Movie Review | Safe for Kids?, an honest parent guide to the new Disney•Pixar animated film release. No spoilers! #TurningRed May contain commissioned links.
Turning Red Movie Review | Safe for Kids?
Un-“bear”-lievable or unbearable?
Disney’s Turning Red is already turning heads with a bunch of BIG firsts for Pixar movies and Asian representation. First sole Pixar Asian woman director, first Asian culture-focused full length Pixar film, first Pixar Asian girl lead character. But was moving straight to streaming a good idea for the underrated red panda like Encanto? Or will families be hating this online red panda-demic?
In this Turning Red Movie Review | Safe for Kids?, we explore the visuals, the story line (no spoilers!), and fully breakdown that PG rating for parents, including my age recommendation for kids wanting to watch. Does this Asian teen girl’s “beastly” hormones get the best of her or is this yet another Asian animated film success for Disney, joining Raya and Big Hero 6?
Pixar does it again. East meets west when it comes to pushing the CGI animation at Pixar. And Turning Red does not cease to delight audiences with unexpected visual treats and surprises. Pushing the stereotypical animated aesthetic without distracting from the story, Pixar blends the look of Japanese anime with the detail rich Pixar animation. Turning Red is packed with vibrant color, vibrant representation, and vibrant animation that families will appreciate the feast for the eyes – via their streaming devices.
This coming of age story is ALL sorts of emotional. Reeking with teen hormones, we find ourselves immersed into lead character Meilin Lee‘s cringe-y yet formidable years – and the emotional move from childhood to adulthood. I easily found myself comparing, sympathizing and reliving my teen years as an Asian girl growing up in America. That friendship building, true self-defining, lying/manipulation boundary pushing, emotion controlling, sarcasm dripping, anger fighting feels are all too familiar, wrapped up in the extra layer of overbearing “tiger mom” family/generational trauma, stereotypical genius perfection and Asian cultural norms.
*Shiver.* I just got chills.
And then take all of those teen feels and add a red panda for visual contrast, humor and story interest. Throw in a couple of original catchy K-pop songs with matching dance moves (sorry, not sorry for the new “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” rendition thanks to the all-made up 4*Town boy band and catchy song “Nobody Like U”), Sailor Moon eyes, drool-worthy food, a few 90’s friendship bracelets, a few Tamagotchi pets, an awkwardly uplifting yet diverse BFF group, and you have one Asian represented Turning Red movie.
Can we talk about the Disney diversity? I’m not only talking Asian focus, but also diversity in cultures within the Asian community (yes, more than just East Asian), celebration of different body types, medical diagnoses (did you catch the insulin pump?), and personalities authentically sprinkled throughout the film. It’s not forced – but genuinely reflective of the world (and Canada). Turning Red is a beautiful mashup of what the world of teens truly looks like – more accurately represented.
But will you Disney cry? You’d better bet my 13-year old Coke bottle glasses that I did. But as a Korean girl growing up in America, I realize that I am 1000% biased. Finally seeing my teenage self on the screen means so much to me personally. Embracing people and seeing them as they are – as flawed, different and unique – it’s a beautiful thing. Maybe Turning Red isn’t as “ugly cry” moving as Inside Out or Up, but there are tears to be shed about the world seeing more and more representation of Asian American girls in film. History in the making, at least for me. *Grabs tissue box and 2 hairbrushes.*
But so much more than just a celebration of AAPI representation and influences, Turning Red is a homage to all of the hormone raging, pop culture obsessed teen girls everywhere. Feeling furry, uncomfortable and foreign yet completely raw, vulnerable, emotional and personal, Turning Red represents a cultural shift of girls today – allowing 13-year old teens to be seen and understood through all of those “life changes” while learning, laughing and normalizing the ugly puberty experience.
This loveable and yet awkward red panda expresses so much about how it feels grow up in a strict home, balancing the stereotypical need to honor your parents while trying to find yourself, ultimately feeling loved and accepted as you are, and seeing how our worst, messy differences can become some of our greatest strengths. Because there’s truly nobody like you.
That PG Rating
Is Turning Red safe for kids? It’s no secret that I am highly skeptical of all child age ratings (um hello, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker not disclosing any language??). But you also know how I feel about PG ratings especially for animated films. With MPAA ratings unpredictable these days, PG age rating oscillating between Incredibles 2 intense to Luca calm, having fully disclosed parent guidelines can be super helpful in determining if a movie is safe for your family to watch together, especially for your littlest kids streaming from home. (Yes, I see you, Soul.)
Why is Turning Red rated PG? In this Turning Red Movie Review | Safe for Kids? Pixar’s Turning Red movie is rated PG for “thematic material, suggestive content and language.” Is Turning Red for kids? Or should parents be worried about another questionable PG rated Disney Pixar animated film? Let’s breakdown that MPAA rating for parents.
Violence/Suspense. Comparable to some of the “darker” scenes in Inside Out, Turning Red does have some borderline nightmare territory scenes that may scare little ones (say 5-years old and younger). Overall very short compared to the rest of the film, this is about as intense as the movie gets.
Adult themes. Periods, pads and PMS, oh my! If you haven’t had the puberty talk with your little ones yet, this may not be the movie for you. While delicately tip-toeing (and laughing) around the subject with metaphors, there are obvious discussions about the visual punchline use of pads in this movie. Teen bullying, family trauma, and emotional teen issues that include: dealing with lying, manipulation, sneaking out, parent/child boundary struggles, interest in boys, and teen embarrassment are also present.
There’s one verbal reference to “doing drugs,” one for “stripper music” and one for “sexy things.” There’s also one “bootylicious” song and a bunch of gyrating/dancing teens. Overall, the adult themes are pretty mild and glossed over, and what I’d expect for a Disney film.
Language. Are we talking Incredibles 2 type language in Turning Red? Thankfully, no. Two “crap” references, three “heck” uses and one “sucks” is about as harsh as the bad words go in Turning Red. However milder bullying type words are said often including: freak, loser, weirdo, stupid, dork, jerk-wad, psycho and perv.
What Turning Red Movie Age Rating is Recommended for Kids?
Is Turning Red kid friendly? Pixar’s Turning Red is an original animated movie with a runtime of 99 minutes, the perfect length for kids. With sing-along songs, teen choreographed dances, bubbly visuals, pop culture references and lots of action/adventure to keep children engaged for over a full hour and a half, Disney•Pixar. But what Turning Red age rating is recommended for kids?
What child age is recommended to watch Turning Red movie? For this mom movie reviewer’s perspective, I think kids as young as 5-6 years old can handle this film. Comparable to the emotions, adult themes and “scary images” of Inside Out with a pinch of Luca and Soul, this coming of age film is pretty on par with the MPAA rating of PG.
While this movie is definitely more geared towards that 8-12 year old tween age (especially girls), this is definitely a “for all ages” type of Disney Pixar film that can “almost” be 100% comfortably watched at home (but fair warning, you may be having people of all ages a little squeamish about period pads). The use of metaphors about puberty will go over the heads of little kids. Use that pause button to your advantage!
Remember those teen years? They were a beast. A love letter to our awkward teenage years, Toronto and Asian pop culture, Turning Red is the anime/Pixar hybrid film I wish that I had as a teen. Embracing and seeing more and more diverse heroes in our Disney films in the past few years has me feeling hopeful for the future, that perhaps an end to racism and prejudice is within our grasp. Turning Red earns a place right beside Mulan, Big Hero 6 and Raya. And the increasing repertoire of Asian Disney/Pixar films is like looking at a full trophy case – and it’s so satisfying.
But will the audience be seeing red? My biggest concern is the influence on the audience response to Turning Red before sitting down on the couch. By moving straight to streaming and skipping the theater release, what is Disney silently saying (or not saying) about this Pixar movie compared to past movies? Is an Asian represented film good but not good enough for a traditional film release? And how much will Turning Red be accepted in the midst of recent world events? Are people “woke” or “not woke enough” or not in support of Stop Asian Hate if they don’t like the film?
Finally joining the likes of DreamWorks’ Abominable and Netflix’s Over The Moon, Pixar may be a little behind the 8-ball on Asian representation. But the emotional ride was worth the wait. This roller coaster of a coming of age film is reeking of teen hormones, but in a good way. There are also a ton of Disney Easter Eggs too – including a Bao restaurant sign (the director’s Pixar short debut), Sparkshorts Burrow Bunny and Purl. And there’s one super short end credit scene – so make sure to fast forward to the end to watch for a giggle.
Is Turning Red the Best Pixar Movie Ever?
Honestly, that depends on what you’re hoping for out of this movie. Is it tears, laughs, a good story? For me, it’s all of the above – and how the film affects me far beyond watching on the TV. And from what I’ve seen from post-pandemic Pixar (Onward, Soul, Luca and now Turning Red), this movie does NOT exceed my Up or Inside Out expectations. Turning Red is at a disadvantage without a theater release (as I feel with Luca). But with the original Turning Red music (a character within the movie itself) and the power of social media, this red panda may have a really amped up response, similar to Encanto. However Turning Red plays out, the Asian representation on screen, the anime-inspired animation style, the sarcasm and wit – Turning Red hits every other part of my Disney movie checklist and SO much more.
Hilarious, awkward, over-the-top anime meets Pixar’s emotionally raw, vulnerable storytelling. Highlighting the Asian family structure, cultural norms and deep history, Disney does a great job weaving their sweet-spot storytelling and Pixar feels along with humor, vulnerability and a love for Asian people. My hope is that kids will love and embrace Mei Mei as much as Mirabel and Antonio from Encanto, finally allowing little Asian girls to feel “seen” too. I know that my awkward, Korean 13-year old Coke-bottle glasses PMS-ing teen experience feels so validated. And it’s never felt so good to see her become the hero, and finally learn to forgive her too. *Pushes thick glasses up my small Asian bridge.*
Grab your 11 pages of FREE Turning Red Coloring Sheets and Kids Activity Printable Pages too!
Follow Disney’s Turning Red movie on social:
Turning Red streams on Disney+ on Friday March 11, 2022. Be sure to follow Turning Red on social for the latest trailer releases, sneak peeks and more.
- Website: https://movies.disney.com/turning-red
- Facebook: https://facebook.com/PixarTurningRed/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/PixarTurningRed
- Instagram: https://instagram.com/pixarturningred/
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The all-new original animated movie, Disney Pixar’s Turning Red is streaming exclusively on Disney+ starting Friday, March 11, 2022. Will your family be watching?
I was invited to screen this film in exchange for this Turning Red Movie Review | Safe for Kids? All photos courtesy of Disney. Be sure to follow Raising Whasians for more movie updates, celebrity interviews, entertainment and behind-the-scenes info!