Turning Red Parents Guide — Things to watch out for in a coming to age story

Turning Red

Disney’s latest film installation of 2022, Turning Red, is a wholesome film that delves around a young girl’s experience as she faces puberty. Mei Lee, a 13-year-old girl living in Canada is torn between pleasing her parents and dealing with the rebelliousness of puberty. Cursed – or blessed – with a beast, the film follows her journey of acceptance coupled with funny characters and amusing dialogue.

Parental Rating

The movie is rated PG for ‘for thematic material, suggestive content and language’. A PG rating stands for general viewing with no unsettling scenes that could affect a child. However, parents are advised to consider whether the content may upset younger, or more sensitive children. Streaming platform Disney plus rates this film suitable for children aged 9 years and over.

Things parents should watch out for in this film

Suggestive content and mature topics:

The film revolves around the changes happening to Mei Lee during her adolescence where adult themes of having periods and Mei developing feelings for boys are discussed. At one point Mei’s mother Ming Lee mistakenly thinks Mei had got her first period and brings sanitary pads along with medicine and herbal tea.

Mei also gets strong feelings for Devon, a 17-year-old storekeeper. Unable to keep the feelings inside her, she draws the two of them together on her notebook where her artwork could be observed as an innuendo to a sexual desire. The film also depicts Mei and her 3 best friends Miriam, Abby, and Priya developing feelings for boys which are shown in subtle ways.

Mildly abusive language:

Alternatives to curse words and derogatory language are seen throughout the movie. At the start of the movie, Mei shouts ‘Fudgesicles’, an alternative for a strong swear word when she almost misses the tram. Mildly abusive terms like ‘crap’, ‘butthead’, ‘jerkwad’, ‘freak’, ‘wacko’ and ‘sore loser’ are also heard.

Horror and flashing images:

Although the film is an animation, some interpretations can be scary for small children. After a fight with her mother, Mei has a scary dream which includes dark red animations of pandas, dragons, lightning, and fire with bright flashing lights. The suspense-filled eery soundtrack of this dream coupled with the animations may upset children if left unattended.

Violence and drug use:

The film shows bouts of violence through Mei when she turns into a red panda and fails to control her emotions. This transformation can sometimes be intense and leads to both unintended and purposeful damage. The plot of the story comes to a peak when Mei and Ling fight each other taking the form of a panda. References to direct violence can also be seen when Ming Lee comments on a drama the family watch together where she says, “Siu Jyu is using him to get to the throne. She will probably stab him on their wedding night”

References to drugs are also present when Ming comments on the behaviour of a boy saying, “this is what happens when you use drugs all day”.

Turning Red is a great film to watch, especially for teens going through puberty, as it delivers a very powerful story. The star-studded Oscar-winning cast delivers a very strong performance giving it a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. However, parents are also recommended to be present as it can have some upsetting scenes.