The Canadian city of Toronto has starred in many movies over the years, but it rarely stars as itself. It’s been disguised as Chicago, New York, Boston, and more in the past, but never given the Hollywood treatment as its own city. Until now. Pixar’s Turning Red is set in Toronto and offers all of these amazing little Canadian Easter eggs throughout the film. But even if you’ve never visited, the actual story of Turning Red is enough of a draw. Who doesn’t want to watch a movie about a teenage girl dealing with all of the stress and change and difficult family dynamics of growing up by turning into a giant red panda? Like the Hulk but cuter and more relatable.
Turning Red Follows A Teen Girl & Her Protective Mom
Turning Red is the story of Mei Lee, a Chinese-Canadian teenage girl struggling with an overprotective mom. “Young actress Rosalie Chiang lends her voice to Mei Lee, a 13-year-old who suddenly ‘poofs’ into a giant red panda when she gets too excited (which is practically ALWAYS),” the official synopsis of the movie reads. “Sandra Oh voices Mei Lee’s protective, if not slightly overbearing mother, Ming, who is never far from her daughter — an unfortunate reality for the teenager.”
The Trailer Is Adorable & Relatable
In the Pixar trailer for Turning Red, Mei Lee is seen sitting in a classroom, preparing to do some complicated math equation, when a classmate passes her a note to let her know her mom is standing outside. Hiding behind a tree, in fact, and trying to avoid being seen. She is discovered by someone who appears to be school security, fights with him, and the entire class watches. Poor Mei sits at her table wearing a toque, or a beanie as those in the U.S. would call it, and despite her best efforts to stay calm, explodes in a huge poof into an enormous red panda. She runs along the rooftops to her home, where she tries to calm herself with a little face massage.
While most of us don’t have to worry about turning into a red panda when we get emotional, the message is relatable for kids and parents alike. Parents know how tough it is to let go of their kids and give them their freedom. Kids know how it feels to want to break away and live their own lives even as they’re nervous about what the future might bring. Just like Mei and Ming Lee.
‘Turning Red’ sees a young girl turn into a red panda when she gets excited.
The Movie Has Lots Of Canadian Connections
Chinese-Canadian director Domee Shi wanted to make a movie actually set in the city of Toronto with Turning Red. Shi, who also directed the Oscar-winning 2018 Pixar short Bao, told Yahoo! News in 2019, "I don’t see Toronto really depicted a lot in movies and if I do, it’s always disguised as another city, and I just wanted to pay homage to my hometown.” The Canadian elements are everywhere, from the CN Tower in the background as Mei jumps from roof to roof, to her maple leaf t-shirt, to Sandra Oh, who voices Mei’s mom Ming, hailing from Ottawa, Canada.
The Movie Also Has A Character Living With Diabetes
Eagle-eyed fans of the new movie noticed something in the trailer for Turning Red that promises to be a big deal for kids who are living with the same condition; a young character with a glucose monitor can be seen in the background, indicating they have diabetes. The character also had a purple insulin pump on their hip, which means the creators of Turning Red clearly did their research into what living with diabetes actually looks like.
It’s Coming Soon To Disney+
Turning Red was expected to hit theaters on March 11, 2022, but alas this is no longer the case. Turning Red has been scheduled for release on Disney+ for March 11 of this year, “given the delayed box office recovery, particularly for family films, flexibility remains at the core of our distribution decisions as we prioritize delivering the unparalleled content of The Walt Disney Company to audiences around the world,” per a statement from Disney. This means parents and kids will be able to catch up with Mei from the comfort of their own home in the very near future.
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