'Turning Red': New Disney, Pixar movie is a 'love letter to Toronto'

·3 min read

It's our time to shine Canada, Disney and Pixar's newly released trailer for the animated feature film Turning Red is entirely set in Toronto, featuring Canadian actor Sandra Oh (set to be released on March 11, 2022).

Directed by Toronto's very own Domee Shi, who won an Oscar in 2019 for her short animated film Bao and was the first female director to lead a Pixar short film, Turning Red follows 13-year-old Mei Lee, voiced by Rosalie Chiang. She is described as "a confident-but-dorky teenager torn between staying her mother's dutiful daughter and the chaos of adolescence."

Back in 2019, Shi told Yahoo Canada that she grew up with “overprotective” Chinese parents in Toronto, something that is relevant to the story of Bao, also set in Toronto, in addition to Turning Red.

In Disney and Pixar's all-new original feature film
In Disney and Pixar's all-new original feature film "Turning Red" confident-but-dorky teenager Mei Lee is torn between staying her mother's dutiful daughter and the chaos of adolescence. And Mei Lee's mother, Ming, has very strong feelings about it all. "Turning Red" opens in theatres on March 11, 2022. (Disney/Pixar).

In the trailer, you see young Mei "poof" into a giant red panda when her mother (Sandra Oh) embarrasses her in school while she is seemingly trying to keep an eye on her daughter through the window into Mei's classroom. This "poof" is apparently something that happens whenever Mei gets "too excited."

From what we can see so far in terms of links to Canada and Toronto, the school Mei goes to is called Lester P. Pearson and there are lots of red and white maple leaves. There is also an area that looks like Toronto's Chinatown neighbourhood, streetcar tracks and of course you can see the CN Tower in the background.

"I don’t see Toronto really depicted a lot in movies and if I do, it’s always disguised as another city, and I just wanted to pay homage to my hometown," Shi said in 2019 about her short film Bao.

In Disney and Pixar's all-new original feature film
In Disney and Pixar's all-new original feature film "Turning Red," 13-year-old Mei Lee "poofs" into a giant panda when she gets too excited (which for a teenager is practically ALWAYS). Featuring Rosalie Chiang as the voice of Mei Lee, "Turning Red" opens in theatres on March 11, 2022. (Disney/Pixar)

"We are beyond thrilled that director Domee Shi chose her hometown of Toronto as the backdrop for her new feature film," a statement from Greg Mason, VP of marketing for Walt Disney Studios Canada reads. 

"With Ottawa native Sandra Oh lending her voice and a group of very talented Canadian artists on the filmmaking team, Turning Red truly is a love letter to Toronto and Canada. There are a couple of great Canadian easter eggs in this trailer and we can’t wait for Canadian audiences to see more when the film hits theatres next year."