Pixar Unleashes a Beast in New Film from ‘Bao’ Oscar Winner

The Pixar feature film “Turning Red” is not opening until March 2022, but that’s not stopping the animation studio from dropping a first look trailer. The film is the latest from Domee Shi, who won the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film in 2018 with her Pixar-backed “Bao.” The first trailer for “Turning Red” spells out the film’s plot, which is more or less the cutest riff imaginable on “The Incredible Hulk.”

The official synopsis for “Turning Red” reads: “Young actress Rosalie Chiang lends her voice to Mei Lee, a 13-year-old who suddenly ‘poofs’ into a giant red panda when she gets too excited (which is practically ALWAYS). Sandra Oh voices Mei Lee’s protective, if not slightly overbearing mother, Ming, who is never far from her daughter—an unfortunate reality for the teenager.”

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IndieWire spoke to Shi in 2018 about “Bao” and her journey to joining Pixar. “I was afraid that it would be too dark and too weird of a story to tell at Pixar,” the filmmaker said at the time. “But I pitched it to Pete Docter [‘Inside Out’] and he became a champion. He said it was cool and different and encouraged me to keep the twist ending.” That’s what got “Bao” greenlit at Pixar. “It’s specific and a cultural piece, but the themes of family are universal, so I think that’s another thing our leadership was drawn to,” added producer Becky Neiman-Cobb. “It’s cute and weird.”

The success of “Bao” opened the door for Shi to direct “Turning Red” at Pixar. “I definitely want to keep putting in all the elements that I love from ‘Bao’ into a feature,” Shi told IndieWire. “That weirdness, that fun energy, the surprises. But it’s still early.”

Pixar recently opened its most recent effort, “Luca,” straight to streaming via Disney+. The film earning strong reviews, with IndieWire awarding the friendship comedy a B+ review. “The shortest Pixar movie since ‘Toy Story’ is also one of the most grounded and enjoyable coming-of-age stories the studio has ever told,” IndieWire senior film critic David Ehlrich wrote of the feature. “At times, ‘Luca’ is so modest, so restrained, so not about sentient action figures or a family of superheroes or the nature of the human soul that it almost doesn’t feel like a Pixar film at all.”

Disney and Pixar’s “Turning Red” releases March 11, 2022. Watch the film’s first official trailer below.

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