Turning Red

image for Turning Red

Short takes

Not suitable under 10; parental guidance to 12 (themes, suggestive content and language)

classification logo

This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Turning Red
  • a review of Turning Red completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 17 March 2022.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 10 Not suitable due to themes, suggestive content and language.
Children aged 10–12 Parental guidance recommended due to themes, suggestive content and language.
Children over the age of 12 Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Turning Red
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Not available
Length: 107 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Meilin Lee, ‘Mei’, (voice of Rosalie Chiang) is a 13-year-old middle schooler who lives with her overprotective and traditional parents in a Chinese temple in Toronto. Mei’s mother, Ming (voice of Sandra Oh), is determined to have a perfect daughter and to protect her from everything she can but she has failed to tell Mei some very important truths about an ancestral gift/curse affecting the females of her family. Mei discovers the secret on her own when she hits puberty and literally transforms into a red panda. Her mother is unable to control her and Mei struggles to find the power within herself to control her emotions. Thankfully, her friends, Miriam (voice of Ava Morse), Abby (voice of Hyein Park) and Priya (voice of Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) – who see past the red panda and can see Mei for who she truly is – are able to help Mei learn to love herself even more because of her gift. When the girls find out that their favourite boy band is coming to town and that none of their parents will allow them to see the concert, the friends hatch a plan to earn the money themselves and go anyway. The only catch is that Mei has one chance to contain her panda thanks to a ritualistic ceremony held only during a red moon, which just so happens to be on the very night of the concert. Will Mei join her friends; will she follow tradition to trap her panda; or will she embrace the changes and make them part of her forever?


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Puberty; Bullying; Consumerism; Intergenerational / Cultural differences; Harbouring family secrets; Adolescent crushes; The struggle to find yourself and come to terms with who you are.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie, including:

  • Ming kicks a security guard at Mei’s school in front of everyone in her class.
  • When Mei’s red panda flees the school in shame and anger, she knocks over a fire escape and a large sign that both crash to the ground, nearly crushing cars and passersby.
  • Mei loses control, trashes her house and destroys her room.
  • Mei throws a ball at a school bully but smashes a window instead.
  • There is a flashback to fighting scenes during a time of war in China when Mei’s ancestor, the first red panda, had to fight to protect her children.
  • Mei attacks a boy at his birthday party, scaring the other guests as she pins him to the ground and shouts aggressively with red, glowing eyes.
  • In an effort to find her daughter and bring her home, Ming’s red panda destroys the entertainment centre where a concert was being held. During their fight Mei punches her in the face and she is knocked unconscious.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • There are numerous transformation scenes and while most are not scary, occasionally Mei’s inner panda is angry and she gets glowing red eyes and becomes very aggressive.
  • Mei’s mother’s inner panda is downright scary. It is physically enormous and is very angry and destructive.
  • When Mei and her inner panda are being separated by a cosmic force tied to an ancient ritual and linked to the red moon, it looks painful for Mei and scary for the panda and may confuse or upset some young viewers.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

  • None noted.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

  • Nothing further of concern.

Product placement

  • None noted.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • In horror, Mei asks herself why she would draw those “horrible, awful, sexy things”.
  • Mei and her friends drool over a cashier, ogling him through a window. They comment on how ‘hot’ he is.
  • There is mention of stripper music and delinquents with gyrations in relation to a band the girls like.
  • The song Bootylicious is played in one scene.
  • The girls ogle a bunch of boys, saying things like: “Number 12 has delts for days.” and “Are you a triangle? Cuz you are soooo cute!” Later they make comments like: “We are women and we are hot!”

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Mei draws images of a boy she and her friends are infatuated with. At first they are fairly innocent and then she begins drawing the boy embracing her, or as a “sexy” merman.
  • Mei draws the bare, chiselled chest of a boy she thinks is cute.
  • A school bully pretends to be making out with someone, wrapping his arms around himself and making passionate kissing sounds while commenting on Mei’s crush.
  • One of the girls asks what a band member might smell like and Abby runs her hands down over her body as she shudders in anticipation.
  • Mei does some sexy gyrations (in panda form) to upset and distract her mother.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Mei’s mum makes a comment about boys doing drugs all day.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Stupid
  • Weirdo
  • Crud!
  • Heck
  • Freak
  • Crap
  • Dork
  • Narc
  • Jerkwad
  • Butthead.

In a nutshell

Turning Red is an animated adventure featuring a culturally diverse cast. At first glance it may appear to be a children’s film but being based around topics related to adolescence and puberty, including repeated mention of periods and pads, Turning Red is far more suited to tween and younger teen audiences.

The main messages from this movie are that people have all kinds of sides, that some sides are messy but that we need to make room for them, live with them and learn to love ourselves in spite of any perceived imperfections.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Self-control
  • Compassion
  • Courage
  • Self-acceptance
  • Friendship.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • Lying to your parents or wilfully deceiving them.
  • Sneaking out of the house without permission.
  • Expecting perfection at all times and condemning anything that is different or less than perfect.
  • Allowing yourself to be used by others.
  • Not preparing your children for the changes that will take place with their bodies during adolescence.