Pixar’s Turning Red Is Sort of an Autobiography

Turning Red is Pixar’s latest animated feature, and it follows a teenager dealing with school drama and becoming a giant red panda. Domee Shi is the director and screenwriter, and the movie acts as a sort of autobiography with a fantastical twist. She reveals the inspiration behind the film and what she did to bring it to life.

“The inspiration behind Turning Red just came from my own life growing up in the early aughts,” Shi said during the Turning Red press conference. “Chinese Canadian, dorky, sassy, nerdy girl who thought she had everything under control. She was her mom’s good little girl, and then boom, puberty hit, and I was bigger. I was hairier. Was hungry all the time. I was a hormonal mess. And I was fighting with my mom, like, every other day. Making this film was kind of my chance to go back to that time for both of us.”

Chunky cute is a term that’s been used to describe the film. The director talks about where that came from and how the style is used in the film.

“Yeah, so that was coined by Rona Liu, our production designer,” Shi said. “Super talented. I worked with her on Bao. And she’s also Chinese-American, as well. We just love the chunky cute aesthetic. You saw it on Bao, and we wanted to kinda show it again, like explore it again with this film, because it just felt like the perfect style to tell this story about this girl and really show the world through her eyes, right? Like, how does she see the world? How does she see people? And just really making the world feel like it was designed by a 13-year-old girl. So that’s kind of how we coined that chunky cute style.”

About Turning Red

Synopsis: Disney and Pixar’s “Turning Red” introduces Mei Lee (voice of Rosalie Chiang), a confident, dorky 13-year-old torn between staying her mother’s dutiful daughter and the chaos of adolescence. Her protective, if not slightly overbearing mother, Ming (voice of Sandra Oh), is never far from her daughter—an unfortunate reality for the teenager. And as if changes to her interests, relationships and body weren’t enough, whenever she gets too excited (which is practically ALWAYS), she “poofs” into a giant red panda!

The film is directed by Domee Shi (Pixar short “Bao) and produced by Lindsey Collins.

Joining Chiang and Oh are the voice talents of Ava Morse, Hyein Park, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Orion Lee, Wai Ching Ho, Tristan Allerick Chen, Lori Tan Chinn, Mia Tagano, Sherry Cola, Lillian Lim, James Hong, Jordan Fisher, Finneas O’Connell, Topher Ngo, Grayson Villanueva, Josh Levi, Sasha Roiz, Addie Chandler and Lily Sanfelippo.

Billie Eilish and FINNEAS collaborated to write three songs for 4*Town, a fictional band in the film. The score is done by Ludwig Göransson (The Mandalorian, Black Panther).

Turning Red will be released on Disney+ on March 11, 2022.

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