Turning Red is Pixar’s latest film coming to Disney+. Overall, reviews for the film have been overwhelmingly positive with a 95% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes. However, one review faced massive backlash from other media outlets and the cast of Turning Red have responded to this reviewer’s criticisms.
One review for ‘Turning Red’ sparked controversy on the internet
Turning Red centers around Mei Lee (Rosalie Chiang), a 13-year-old girl who discovers that she turns into a giant red panda anytime she becomes emotional. This creates a lot of stress as going through puberty is hard enough without the growing risk of turning into a giant animal. The cast includes Chiang, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Sandra Oh, Addie Chandler, and Ava Morse.
While not every review for the film has to be positive, many readers were angered by a review from CinemaBlend managing editor Sean O’Connell. In the review, O’Connell expresses he had a tough time connecting with the storylines in the film that center around the lead character’s Asian heritage along with the problems she faces as a teenage girl going through puberty.
“I recognized the humour in the film, but connected with none of it,” O’Connell wrote in his review. “By rooting Turning Red very specifically in the Asian community of Toronto, the film legitimately feels like it was made for Domee Shi’s friends and immediate family members. Which is fine — but also, a tad limiting in its scope.”
After facing “racist” and “sexist” accusations, according to Variety, the review has been removed from CinemaBlend. In a since-deleted Twitter post accompanying his review, O’Connell also claimed that the film was not made for “universal audiences.”
The cast of ‘Turning Red’ says the film deals with issues ‘everyone goes through’
In an interview with CBC News, Chiang disagreed with this criticism, saying Turning Red’s storylines should not be a problem for audiences.
“Of course not,” Chiang said. “This is a coming of age film, everyone goes through this change … I think different people of different cultures are going to go through it differently, but at the end of the day, the core messiness and change is something everyone can relate to.”
Ramakrishnan, who voices Lee’s friend in the film, called the themes “universal” and that people will be able “to relate to Meilin’s story, regardless of whether you are a young Chinese girl from Canada or not.”
Director Shi, who won an Academy Award for her Pixar short, Bao, also disagreed with the review and calls Turning Red a “love letter to that time of our lives. It’s a love letter to puberty. It’s a love letter to Toronto.”
CinemaBlend’s review has been removed and an apology has been given
Once the review was removed from CinemaBlend, O’Connell took to Twitter to deliver an apology for his review.
“I’m genuinely sorry for my Turning Red review,” O’Connell wrote. “Thank you to everyone who has reached out with criticism, no matter how harsh. It is clear that I didn’t engage nearly enough with the movie, nor did I explain my point of view well, at all. I really appreciate your feedback.”
CinemaBlend Editor-in-Chief Mack Rawden also issued the following statement: “We failed to properly edit this review, and it never should have gone up. We have unpublished it and assigned to someone else. We have also added new levels of editorial oversight. Thank you to everyone who spoke up.”
Turning Red lands on Disney+ on March 11.