Turning Red

Growing up is a beast.Tagline

Turning Red (also known as Red in some countries) is a 2022 American computer-animated coming-of-age fantasy comedy film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. It is directed by Domee Shi in her feature directorial debut, from a screenplay written by herself and Julia Cho. The film stars the voices of Rosalie Chiang, Sandra Oh, Ava Morse, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Hyein Park, Orion Lee, Wai Ching Ho, Tristan Allerick Chen, and James Hong. It is the first Pixar film to be solely directed by a woman, the first to take place in Canada, and the second to feature an Asian lead character after Up. The film is Pixar's 25th feature film.

The development of Turning Red began in 2018 when Shi first pitched the idea to Pixar in October 2017. Turning Red premiered in London, England on Everyman Borough Yards in February 21, 2022, and released on Disney+ in countries where the service is available on March 11, 2022, along with a simultaneous limited run at the El Capitan Theatre. It will be released theatrically in countries without the streaming service. It was intended for worldwide theatrical release, but further COVID-19 pandemic disruption due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant resulted in the change. The film received critical acclaim with praise for its story, humor, visuals, animation, voice cast, and use of culture.

Synopsis

Disney and Pixar's Turning Red introduces Mei Lee, a confident, dorky thirteen-year-old torn staying between her mother's dutiful daughter and the chaos of adolescence. Her protective, if not slightly overbearing mother, Ming, 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, she "poofs" into a giant red panda!

Plot

In April 2002, Meilin "Mei" Lee is an over-achiever who had just recently turned 13 and considers herself perfect; having mastered her classes as an A+ student, garnered a close clique of like-minded friends which consists of cool-headed Miriam, deadpan Priya and intense Abby, and is devoted to her family temple which honors her ancestor Sun Yee, a lover of animals. Mei and her friends are obsessed with the latest boy band 4*Town who are coming to Toronto May 18, according to Abby. While returning home from school, the girls pass by a convenience store and spy on the 17-year-old clerk, Devon. While Mei's friends find him attractive, Mei herself downplays it and passes an opportunity to go out to karaoke with her friends so that she can return home to help her mother, Ming, clean the temple. Her friends are understanding, but believe her of being "brainwashed".

Mei arrives at the temple where she converses with the locals and meets with Ming and her more laid back father Jin. Ming expects a lot out of Mei and, despite her loving her dearly, puts a lot of pressure on her. They open the temple to tourists and afterwards, Mei returns to her studies. While doing her homework, Mei begins to daydream and draw pictures of Devon and finds herself romantically obsessed with him. She tries to hide her journal when Ming comes in to check on her, but upon finding the journal, overreacts and assumes that Devon was trying to attract her. She forcibly drives her to the convenience store to confront Devon and tells her to stay away from Ming while waving her drawings to him; attracting attention from onlookers including Mei's bullying classmate Tyler. Despite being angry and humiliated, Mei hides her feelings from her mother.

Later that night, Mei has a nightmare involving red pandas and in the morning wakes up to discover that she has turned into a giant one. She hides in the bathroom from her parents; demanding that they not come in. However, Ming, who confuses her exclamations as being the result of menstruation, offers her pads. Ming gets distracted long enough for Mei to return to her room where she learns that when she gets calm, she reverts to normal, though her once raven black hair has now turned a bright orange-red; forcing her to wear a red beanie. Mei keeps a stoic face when Ming drops her off at school and reunites with her friends who inform her that Tyler has spread the incident at the convenience store all over school. Despite Mei's anger, she struggles to hide the panda.

In math class, Miriam grows concerned for Mei and points out that her mother is outside spying on them. Ming gets into a fight with the school's security guard as all the students and Mr. Kieslowski, the math teacher, watch the chaos unfold. When Ming reveals that she came to drop off some pads, Mei finally explodes into a red panda. Ming sees what has happened to her daughter and Mei flees before anyone else can see her. Mei runs through the streets, causing destruction, but also discovers that her reflexes are somewhat heightened. Upon returning to her room in tears, Ming attempts to comfort her, only for Jin to come in and accidentally blurt out "It's happened already!?"; forcing Ming and Jin to reveal their family history.

When Sun Yee's husband went to fight in a war, she asked the gods to give her power to protect her daughters. Under a red moon, she was granted the ability to transform into a giant red panda and managed to protect her home. Since then, she has passed this ability down to her daughters where it has been part of their history ever since. Mei is upset, but Ming reveals that there is a cure. Under the next red moon, which will be May 25, they will perform a ritual to encase the power of the panda, which for Ming is a medallion she wears around her neck. She warns her however that the more she transforms, the harder it will be to encase the power and tells her not to transform.

The next day, Mei hides in her room attempting to control her powers when she hears her friends outside her window. She accidentally reveals herself to them and pulls them into her room while trying to keep them quiet. Her friends, while shocked, are amused by her new appearance. Upset that 4*Town is coming before the ceremony, Mei loses all hope, until her friends go into an impromptu acapella version of "Nobody Like U". Realizing her friends love her no matter what, Mei returns to normal and discovers that she is capable of controlling her transformations regardless of her emotional state. She thanks them and has her parents challenge her to test her emotions. Ming and Jin are impressed, but when Mei asks to go see 4*Town in concert they, or rather only Ming, say no. After Mei leaves dejected, Ming gets a call from her mother, Wu, who saw Mei's rampage on the news and has decided to come over to check on her, much to her worry.

At school during dodgeball practice, all four girls reveal that they were unable to convince their parents to get them tickets as they are expensive. When Tyler begins to mock Mei after they notice that Ming is spying on them, Mei angrily uses her panda powers to toss the ball so hard that it breaks a window. Mei's friends take her to the bathroom where she laments the fact that her mother is always pushing her to be "perfect little Mei Mei" and that she wants to break free. While trying to come up with a solution to get the money for tickets, Abby convinces Mei to transform again. A girl named Stacy, along with her friends, enter the bathroom and catch Mei in her red panda form. Having previously seen her, Stacy is instead in love with her adorable appearance. The girls then get the idea to use Mei's red panda form to make money off of their classmates and thus get the funds necessary to get tickets. Mei hides her personal appearances as the red panda from her parents by pretending to go to a mathletes practice.

While making more merchandise of the red panda, Tyler privately approaches Mei and offers to pay her $200 for her to show up at his birthday party, the exact amount needed for all four girls to get into the concert, and reluctantly agree. Just before Mei is about to leave for Tyler's house, her Grandmother Wu and Aunties arrive, detaining her from the party. Afterwards, Mei tries to leave through the window, but is stopped by Grandma Wu who tells her how dangerous the red panda is and implying that the scar over her eye came from Ming when she transformed. Mei finally manages to escape, but knocks down a photo of herself and her mother.

Mei finally arrives at the party, in a cheap red panda suit and admits to her friends that she is scared of transforming again after what she just learned. Upon realizing that she would be disappointing her friends, Mei finally gives in and transforms; making Tyler's party a success. Back at home, Ming enters Mei's bedroom and sees the knocked down photo and discovers the red panda merchandise and her escape. While relaxing with her friends, the girls hear over the radio that 4*Town is coming to Toronto on May 25, the same day as the red moon. It turns out that Abby misread the schedule and that they would be in "Toledo" on May 18. The news upsets Mei and she transforms. When Tyler angrily demands her to come down and give the other kids rides, Mei attacks him just as Ming arrives to witness it.

All the kids are sent home as Tyler's parents scold Mei for attacking their son. Ming accuses Mei's friends of influencing her, but when they try to explain themselves, Mei is too scared to defend them. As Ming takes Mei home, she drops her digital pet behind. She returns to her room sad and dejected. While cleaning out the basement, Jin comes across a camcorder that Mei was using to film videos with her friends while using her panda transformation. He approaches her and tells her that he witnessed Ming transform only once when she got into an argument with her mother. The reason being was because of him as Wu disapproved of him, hence why Ming gave Wu her scar. He tells her that she should accept who she truly is.

On May 25, Miriam, Priya and Abby head to the concert by themselves while Mei stays at home with her family to perform the ritual with their neighbor Mr. Gao, who apparently was a shaman on the side. The women chant as Mei's soul heads to a spiritual realm where she encounters Sun Yee who holds a mirror that she must enter to remove the power. However, while going through it, she begins to reminisce on how much being a red panda has changed her life and rejects getting cured. The ritual fails and Mei happily bounces away to the concert in her red panda form. Ming, angered that her daughter would this and breaking her medallion, begins to transform into a red panda.

Mei arrives at the concert and reunites with her friends who are still upset with her. However, Mei notices that Miriam kept an eye on her digital pet and they make up. Tyler arrives, revealing himself to be a fan of 4*Town, and the girls embrace him into their friend circle, and leave him embarrassed. 4*Town comes out, being everything the friends wanted them to be, but the concert is suddenly interrupted by Ming in her panda form who has grown to Kaiju size demanding to know where Mei is. Everyone flees the concert as Ming grabs Mei and chastises her for disobeying her and being rebellious. Mei admits that she likes who she is and reveals that her friends were never at fault for her decisions; angering her further. During the fight however, Mei accidentally knocks Ming out.

Mei's family and Mr. Gao arrive to complete the ritual before the red moon is gone and remove their medallions and pendants to transform into red pandas and chant while helping Mei bring her mother into the ritual circle. Mei's friends get 4*Town to perform to empower Mei and the ritual as a bright light envelopes them. Mei finds herself in the spirit realm again and finds a teenaged Ming who is sad and scared over harming her mother. Mei tells her that everything will be okay as despite how scary it is, things will get better. Ming reverts to adult form as she makes up with Wu and the Aunties as all the women enter Sun Yee's mirror to remove their transformation powers. Mei informs Ming that she will not remove her powers as she has embraced herself for who she truly is. Despite Ming's concern, she is still confident enough to know what Mei is doing.

Following the destruction of the SkyDome, things have gotten better for Mei as she now has a better grasp of her abilities and balances her temple duties with her social life. More people are visiting the temple to see Mei in her red panda transformation, with the merchandise proceeds going to rebuild the Skydome. While Ming is still concerned for her daughter, she respects her more as she goes to be with her friends.

In a post-credits scene, Mei is looking for Jin, who is down in the basement listening to 4*Town and embracing the memorabilia.

Cast

Additional voices

  • Evan Agos
  • Trinity Jo-Li Bliss
  • Devin Bright
  • Kimberly Brooks
  • David Jordan Chen
  • Ian James Corlett
  • Juliet Donenfeld
  • Terri Douglas
  • Ellen Dubin
  • Alison Fernandez
  • Jack Fisher
  • Erin Fitzgerald
  • Lily Poon Fong-Fong
  • Hadley Gannaway
  • Kim Mai Guest
  • David Hayter
  • Karen Huie
  • Caleb Jeon
  • Arif S. Kinchen
  • Sean T. Krishnan
  • Paul Kwo
  • James Taku Leung
  • Ethan Loh
  • Lydia Look
  • Noel Mason
  • Jason Maybaum
  • Jaiden Alexander McLeod
  • Ulka Simone Mohanty
  • Iara Nemirovsky
  • Capri Oliver
  • Benjamin Plessala
  • Tsang Pui-Yee
  • Maddix Robinson
  • Zeno Robinson
  • Vivienne Rutherford
  • Violet Grace Schaffer
  • Mariel Sheets
  • Christian J. Simon
  • Artemis Snow
  • Sydney Thomas
  • Cheng Tse-Sing
  • Benjamin Valic
  • Shondalia White
  • Cedric L. Williams - 4*town TV/Radio DJ Announcer

Reception

While several critics liked the film, many people criticized the movie for being inappropriate, even stating that the film is telling viewers to disobey their parents. Crew and cast members of the movie eventually spoke up on the case. Lead voice actor Rosalie Chiang said the film was meant to appeal to all: "This is a coming of age film, everyone goes through this change".

Trivia

  • This is the third Pixar film to be released exclusively on Disney+ after Soul and Luca.
  • This is the eleventh Disney+ movie that was originally intended as a theatrical release, after Noelle, Artemis Fowl, Hamilton, Magic Camp, Clouds, The One and Only Ivan, Mulan, The Beatles: Get Back, Soul, and Luca.
  • This is the fourth Disney+ original movie to get a home video release as well as a theatrical release internationally, being Mulan, Soul, and Luca.
  • Due to Disney+ being limited in most of Europe and Asia, the following countries are where Turning Red got a theatrical release: Albania, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, China (except Hong Kong and Taiwan), Croatia, Czech Republic, Egypt, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Kenya, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, and Vietnam.
    • The film was originally going to also be released in Russia, but the release was cancelled due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.[3]
  • This is the second Pixar film to be released in March, after Onward.
  • This is the second Pixar film of the 2020s to be produced in a 1:85:1 aspect ratio, after Luca, and the third Disney animated film of the 2020s to be produced in a 1:85:1 aspect ratio, after Luca and Encanto.
  • This is Domee Shi's first feature-length Pixar film. and her directional debut. She previously directed the 2018 Disney short, Bao.
    • With that being said, she is also the first Asian (and more specifically, Chinese) woman to direct a Pixar film.
  • The song heard in the teaser is "Larger Than Life" by the Backstreet Boys.
  • The song "It's Gonna Be Me" by NSYNC is featured in the second trailer.
  • The second Pixar film to be directed by a woman, after Brave.
  • According to Mei Lee's student tag, and confirmed early in the film, the time period takes place through April and May of 2002. As such, the clothes worn by the characters are based on early 2000s fashion.
  • This film is set in Toronto, Canada, as some of the articles of clothing Mei wears features the maple leaf of the Canadian flag and a shot of the CN Tower. According to Domee Shi, she chose this city as the backdrop of her film because it was her hometown.[4]
    • Shi admitted that she had fun stumping her fellow filmmakers with a little extra Canadian trivia and lingo too, like adding Loonies and Toonies (Canadian coins) into the script or toque (the Canadian word for a small beanie hat) to describe the hat Mei wears.
  • This is the fifth Pixar film to have a female protagonist after Brave, Inside Out, Finding Dory, and Incredibles 2.
  • This is the fourth Pixar film to have a music score composed by a non-recurring composer after Brave (which had its music score composed by Patrick Doyle), Soul (which had its music score composed by Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and Jon Batiste), and Luca (which had its music score composed by Dan Romer).
  • Thus, it also marks Ludwig Göransson's first music score in an animated feature film, after previously scoring the Walt Disney Animation Studios short film, Inner Workings and producing songs for DreamWorks Animation's Trolls World Tour.
  • This is the sixth Pixar film not to take place in the United States, following Luca, Finding Nemo, Ratatouille, Brave, and Coco.
  • In Luca, there is an Italian record cover in Giulia's bedroom that says "4*Villaggi", a reference to the boy band 4*Town in the film.
  • Sandra Oh's third theatrically animated film, after Netflix’s Over the Moon and Raya and the Last Dragon.
  • This is Sandra Oh's fourth Disney film, after The Princess Diaries, Mulan II, and Raya and the Last Dragon.
  • This is the eighth Pixar film to have a child as the main character after Dot from A Bug's Life, Nemo from Finding Nemo, Dash from The Incredibles, Russell from Up, Riley from Inside Out, Miguel from Coco, and Luca from Luca.
  • This is the fourth Disney animated film to be released on March 11, following The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, and Mars Needs Moms.
  • According to Shi, the film was inspired by anime, namely Fruits Basket and Ranma 1/2. It also draws inspiration from Studio Ghibli films.
  • Shi explained in an interview that one of her real life friends inspired the character of Abby Park.
  • This is the first Pixar film to run 107 minutes.
  • This is the third Pixar film with a protagonist who wears glasses after Carl Fredricksen from Up and Joe Gardner from Soul, it is also the first of such with a female glass-wearer in the lead role.
  • According to Shi, the film takes place in the same universe of the Toy Story series.[5]
  • This is the third Pixar movie that doesn't feature John Ratzenberger, after Soul and Luca.
  • This is James Hong's fourth theatrically released animated film outside of the Kung Fu Panda franchise after Mulan (1998), Sherlock Gnomes, and Abominable the former of which being another Disney film.
  • Mei isn't the only person who can turn into a red panda. Her mom can also turn into a red panda, as revealed in the graphic novel which was released before the movie. The film also reveals that her aunts and grandma, as well as several ancestors, can also turn into red pandas.
  • This is Pixar's fourth film to release during the spring season after Finding Nemo, Up, and Onward.
  • Rooftops in this film are shaped like red panda ears.
  • A documentary called Embrace The Panda: Making Turning Red was released on Disney+ on the same day (March 11, 2022) Turning Red was released.
  • As stated in some articles, famous The Voice star Anne-Marie makes a cameo in the UK version of the film.
  • Famous pop culture songs like "Cha Cha Slide" by DJ Casper and "Bootylicious" by Destiny's Child are heard in the film.
  • The fictional boy band 4*Town is inspired by real-world boy bands such as Da-ice and BTS.
    • Also, some articles have shown that fans have convinced that popular singer Jimin inspired the Tae Young character, as Jimin has a love for animals the same way Tae Young does.
  • According to the "Making Of" video, the film had various developmental names, some of the pun-based title variety. Such examples include: Notorious RPG (Red Panda Girl), My Neighbor Toronto, PMS (Panda Mayhem Syndrome), Girl In Red, Panda Prime, Anything But Red, Big Deal, and Fei-Fei/Fei Li and A Panda.
  • Much like how Enrico Casarosa based Luca on his childhood in Italy, Domee Shi based this on her own childhood growing up in Canada and Ming Lee being based on her own mother. Even the scene where Mei catches Ming spying on her at school is based on a personal experience.
  • As noticed in a comparison concept art, Ming Lee is much bigger than her husband, Jin Lee.
  • This is the first Pixar film that the Disney opening logo's default music was not replaced since Cars 3 in 2017. All Pixar films between Coco and Luca were replaced Disney logo's default music.
  • This is the thirteenth animated Disney film that has the full closing Disney logo after Finding Dory, Moana, Cars 3, Coco, Incredibles 2, Toy Story 4, The Lion King, Frozen II, Soul, Raya and the Last Dragon, Luca, and Encanto.
  • Priya may be LGBTQ+, according to the local news, and the scene where she dance battles a punk rock woman with pink hair.

Easter eggs and allusions

  • Near the start of the film, a restaurant named "Bao Restaurant", with the same writing as the short's logo, can be seen.
    • Also, the kitchen scene where Ming prepares dumplings for Mei, is also a reference to Bao.
  • When Mei calls her friends at the start of the film, she shouts "Besties, assemble!", a clear nod to the iconic Avengers phrase "Avengers, assemble!".
  • Purl makes a cameo in Mei's desk as a figurine.
  • The film features two Hidden Mickeys:
    • One can be seen in some donut holes.
    • Another one can be seen in some balloons in Tyler’s party.
  • Mei's notebook has a sticker of the bunny from Burrow.
  • The text on Mei's flute case that says "This Girl Loves Math" looks similar to the logo of the 2005 sitcom Everybody Hates Chris.
    • The unicorn sticker on her flute case with its multi-colored mane is a nod to the character Rainbow Unicorn from Disney's 2015 film Inside Out.
    • There are also sticker labels on her flute case that read "Save The Whales" and "Y2K A'OK", referencing the whale bug and the Y2K scare. Some elements, like the blue star with a face sticker, are a reference to the classic but now bankrupt store Toys 'R' Us.
    • A "Talk To The Hand" sticker and a queen kitty sticker are very stylistic of the Lisa Frank sticker collection from the period in which the film is set.
  • The Pizza Planet Truck can be seen as Mei runs to the SkyDome.
    • There are also numerous Pizza Planet boxes scattered around Tyler's house during his birthday party.
    • In the scene where 4*Town performs in the SkyDome, an ad for Pizza Planet can be seen.
  • Mei refers to the red panda statues in the temple as "Bart and Lisa", which is a reference to Bart and Lisa Simpson from The Simpsons.
  • Near the end of the film, the blue jay bird from Dug Days can be seen in front of the destroyed SkyDome.
    • It is also a sneaky easter egg to the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team which plays its home games at the stadium.
  • The Pixar Ball can be seen in the pool during Tyler's party.
  • Miriam's skateboard has stickers of Buzz Lightyear's Star Command logo and Sox on it as a sneak peek at the upcoming Lightyear.
    • Also, on her locker, there's a sticker that says "SK8", which stands for "skate" and lets people know that she's a skater.
  • The dry line marker Jin uses to create the ritual circle at the SkyDome reads "Professional Model A113."
    • A113 can also be seen on a 4*Town ticket in the credits.
  • When Mei notices Devon in her red panda form, she excitedly taps her foot into the ground á la Thumper.
    • When Mei yells "Awooga!" to impress Devon, but doesn't mean to do it, this is a reference to the 1988 sci-fi sitcom Red Dwarf.
    • It is also a tip of the hat to the "Awooga" meme originating in Tex Avery's 1943 cartoon Red Hot Riding Hood.
    • Additionally, Mei was originally going to shout "I love you, Devon!", but was changed to the now famous scene.
  • When Mei and her friends are in the bathroom trying to hide, an oval shaped sticker of Nemo in a blue background can be seen on one of the bathroom stalls as a nod to the film Finding Nemo.
  • In one scene where Mei walks into her home, a blue and red umbrella in a bucket can be seen, as a reference to the 2013 Pixar short The Blue Umbrella.
  • When Mei finds herself crushing on a boy at school, as he walks by, you'll notice his T-shirt reads "Escapula", which is a deep-cut reference to the heavy-metal band of the same name who performed in the Land of the Dead's Battle Of Bands in Coco.
    • Also, when red panda Mei gets spooked by two women and instinctively raises her hands in the air, you can see some Mexican papel picado decorations in the background, also from Coco.
  • Kevin from Up makes an appearance as a skeleton in a school classroom.
  • When Mei draws/sketches Devon as a merman in her notebook, this is a reference to the dual sea monster nature of characters in Luca.
  • The scene where Ming makes Mei a bowl of porridge with eggs as eyes, bok choy pieces as eyebrows, and a mushroom piece as the nose, is a tribute to the happy porridge Mushu makes in Mulan.
    • The scene where red panda Mei steps out of bed, steps right onto her bunny slippers and smushes them could be another nod to Mushu. One of Mushu's lines is “Oh, I think my bunny slippers just ran for cover. Come on, scare me, girl!”
  • The number of the Lee family home is 234, a reference to the address of Andy's second house in Toy Story 3.
  • When we first met Priya, she is holding a romantic fantasy novel called "Nightfall: The Final Chapter". The book cover with a vampire and three women is a homage to the Twilight saga.
  • The shot where Mei leaps across the sky may be a shoutout to the Japanese film The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.
  • Product placement, such as "Jokia", is a reference to how Nokia phones dominated the cellphone market in that period.
  • Some "Wassup" graffiti is seen on one of the bathroom stalls, a reference to the Budweiser ad campaign that ran from 1999 to 2002.
    • There's also squiggly writing on the first bathroom stall that spells "Kitbull", which is a nod to a 2019 Pixar short, Kitbull.
  • The all-white outfits 4*Town wore during their concert is a reference to the cover of the Backstreet Boys' album 'Millennium'.
    • Their angelic outfits have been influenced by the Backstreet Boys' role in the apocalyptic 2013 comedy This Is The End, which featured them all dressed in white, complete with halos.
  • When Abby discovers red panda Mei, her reaction is "You’re so fluffy!", which is a reference to Illumination and Universal’s 2010 film, Despicable Me, where Agnes hugs her new unicorn plush tight after winning it in a carnival game and yells the iconic quote "It’s so fluffy!".
    • It may also be a reference to a scene in Disney's 2016 film Zootopia, when Nick Wilde touches Bellwether's wool on top of her head, and he comments "So fluffy".
  • When Ming turns into an enormous red panda and stomps through the city on the way to the concert, is a reference to 4 different films and series, those being Godzilla, Attack On Titan, King Kong: Skull Island,and Jurassic Park.
    • The fight between Mei and her Mom is a reference to the fight between Naruto and Khurram in Naruto: Shippuden.
  • When Mei leaps on Tyler to attack him because he called her mom a "freak", this is a reference to the 2003 crime comedy film Kangaroo Jack, where Jackie Legs kicks Louis Booker in the stomach hard and runs away.
  • When Mei is in the school music room, the music notes are the actual notes for the country’s national anthem “O Canada.”
  • The green colored emerald earrings that Ming wears are a reference to Disney's newest theatrical film Encanto, as a nod to the scene where Mirabel puts the shattered gem back together.
  • A store called "Chai Kovsky" is a tea shop punningly named after the famous classical composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
    • There is also a shop called "Dee's Vintage Fashion" which is named after Dee, the little girl from Up, who watches Carl's house filled with balloons take to the sky in her bedroom.
  • When the Lee family perform the ceremony to separate the red panda spirit from Mei's body, Mr. Gao explains that their opening up a door to the astral realm, and draws a circle around Mei. This is a reference to Pixar's 2020 film Soul, where Moonwind opened up a portal for Joe Gardner into the body of a cat called Mr. Mittens and 22 into Joe's human body.
  • The license plate on Ming’s car reads “Syst3ms” in honor of all the hard work the Systems team did to allow filmmakers to work from home during the pandemic.
  • When Mei is walking through the school hallway, a young boy is wearing a t-shirt with an orange one-eyed monster from Monsters, Inc.' on it.
    • Also, if you look closely, Abby's overalls have the same flowers as Boo's door.
  • There are lots of origami cranes hidden in the movie, including one in Mei’s bedroom and another seen in the corridor. These are likely references to the 2009 Pixar short Partly Cloudy.
  • In the science classroom, you can see a spiky purple gem like the one from Onward sitting on the shelf on the left.
  • The dragons painted on the wall in Mei’s school recess are Chinese water dragons just like Sisu from Raya and the Last Dragon.
  • Artists borrowed the model of Massimo’s cat Machiavelli from Luca to create the exotic shorthair temple cats that frequent the Lee family temple. The fur is a little longer and the coloring is different to distinguish the difference, but if you look closely you can see the resemblance.
  • Mei’s math teacher, Mr. Kieslowski, has a plush of Carlton the Bear on his bookshelf. Carlton has been the official mascot of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey club since 1995.
  • When Priya and Mei do their handshake, it is the same one Will and Jazz do in the 1990 show The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
    • Also, Mei does the “raise the roof” dance in the intro montage.
  • The magazine Mei shows her friends is Tween Beat. This is a nod to Teen Beat and Tiger Beat, with a touch of People.
  • When Mei’s parents show her the kittens in the box, this is reminiscent of the beginning of the 1988 Disney film Oliver and Company. It may also be a slight reference to the 1995 Amblimation film Balto II, in the scene where the Wolfdog puppies look cute for the humans.
  • During the dodgeball scene, the gym teacher says “be like water” which is a famous Bruce Lee quote.
  • When Mei enters the astral realm, the art style resembles that of Studio Ghibli.
  • Aaron T.’s sideways blue cap looks a lot like James Stone’s sideways blue cap from the 1997 Disney comedy series Recess.
  • When Mei leaps from house to house to escape school time after everyone found out she can transform into a red panda, the scene skips to a close up of Mei jumping high, against a light blue sky with clouds. This is a reference to Pixar’s 1995 film Toy Story, because Andy's wallpaper appears in the very start of the film, and is shown clearly.
  • A sign in Mei’s school hall that says “Dare to be different, dare to be you” is encompassing the whole message of the film’s story, which is ‘not hiding who you truly are, not being afraid to recognize that sets you apart doesn’t always have to be such a bad thing, so embrace it’.
  • In the calendar scene, Jin points out that May 25th is the red full moon day. This is a reference to the film being Pixar’s 25th feature film. The moon on May 25, 2002, wasn't actually a red moon. It was actually a Waxing Gibbous with illumination by the Sun at 99%, as the following night on May 26th was a full moon with a lunar eclipse at 7:51 p.m. in Toronto.
  • The “Daisy Mart”, where Devon works, is a real convenience store. In virtual reality, the store is placed in Brampton, ON, Canada and is part of the Grocery Stores Industry.
  • In one scene, Mei and Ming watch a Korean drama film called Jay Palace, which is a real film.
  • The scene where Mei turns into the giant red panda when she looks at the bathroom mirror and instantly freaks out is a reference to the 1985 comedy film Teen Wolf, when Michael J. Fox transforms into a werewolf once he looks in the bathroom mirror.
    • Later on, once Mei's friends noticed she looked different, Priya asked if Mei was a werewolf.
  • The scene where red panda ears are handed out is a nod to the Mickey and Minnie ears sold in the Disney Parks.
  • When Ming mistakes Mei for having her first period, when she actually turned into a red panda, she screams “It’s happening!”. This is a reference to the 2005 comedy show The Office, when Michael Scott yells “Oh my god! It’s happening!” with the procedure.
  • 4*Town's dance moves in the concert are similar to the dance moves of NSYNC's "Bye Bye Bye", Magic!'s "Rude", and Backstreet Boys' "Everybody (Backstreets Back)".
  • When Ming turns her arm back and forth in the scene where Mei talks about pizza, this is a reference to the 1990 Disney show TaleSpin.
  • TripleDent Gum (from Inside Out) appears among the 4*Town concert crowd, and is also seen being chewed by some students.
  • The scar on Wu Lee’s (one of Mei’s aunts) face is similar to Scar’s eye scar from the 1994 Disney film The Lion King.
  • Mei and Ming Lee's relationship is similar to another Pixar mother-child duo, Merida and Queen Elinor in Brave. Like Elinor, despite wanting what's best for her daughter, Ming oversteps her bounds and it results in her relationship with her daughter becoming toxic.
  • Some of 4*Town's instrument beats are a reference to popular but now broken up band Daft Punk.

Videos

Possible sequel

Domee Shi has expressed interest in a follow up stating, "We are open, but we haven't talked about it, but yeah, it's an invitation at the end for more stories."[6]

References


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