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When teenagers become animals: "Red" brings Panda to the cinema

Raging teenagers seeing red in their anger? In the new Disney animated film “Red” that’s sort of the program. A girl becomes an animal in it. Namely a big, red, fluffy panda.

Hamburg – Parents of teenage children should know the phenomenon well: if the offspring is angry and feels completely misunderstood, they can become animals. So literally.

Disney, with its Pixar Animation Studios, has now conjured up an entire animated film from this phrase. It can be seen on the Disney + streaming portal from March 11th.

Only child with helicopter mother

The focus of the film by Oscar-winning director Domee Shi (short film “Bao”) is 13-year-old Mei Lee. The only daughter of a helicopter mother striving for perfection, who actually has completely different wishes. And yet dutifully fulfills her mother’s. Until one day the emotional barrel overflows, the teenager sees red – and Mei Lee becomes an oversized, fluffy, red panda.

At school, Mei Lee is suddenly a hit as a giant cat bear. Everyone wants to cuddle, take photos, buy panda shirts. The 13-year-old and her friends – who are drawn quite clichéd diverse – make a virtue out of it. After all, they need money to buy tickets for the greatest boy band in the world – 4Town. But they reckoned without Mei Lee’s mother.

The film takes a bit of time to get to the heart of its story. Until then, he talks mainly about the excitable, over-committed, self-confident youngster – top grades, virtuoso on the flute, trophies on the shelves, perfect daughter – who, above all, is quite exhausting. She tries to balance the wishes of her devout Asian mother with her own. And of course she comes to a point where rebellion spreads.

Familiar messages

The messages of the film are the well-known ones: friendship, respect and family are important. The makers fall back on the classic opposites. Modern versus traditional, young versus old, cool versus uncool, self-determination versus heteronomy. Of course everything ends well and not only the title heroine emerges from the story changed and strengthened.

The finale is almost a bit too violent – at least for the smaller viewers. And maybe it’s a little too cheesy. But it suits the movie. At the same time, some viewers may end up feeling as if they had sprinted through the film – it only offers a few moments to breathe deeply. And to be honest, many a Disney film has been told with a lot more love and fewer clichés.

Nevertheless, the fast-paced film is quite entertaining. Especially the small details – like Tamagotchis for children and adults and the very perfect members of the boy band and their facial expressions and gestures – are fun. Teenagers and their parents should also feel that they are well understood.

Among the German voices there is also a well-known one. Actress, presenter and author Collien Ulmen-Fernandes voices her first role in a Disney-Pixar animated film, Helen, one of Mei Lee’s funky aunts, in Red. Multiple Grammy winner Billie Eilish also contributed songs for the film. dpa

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