Category Archives: Movie Reviews

REVIEW: “THE LOST CITY” (2022) Paramount Pictures

Coming out in theaters this Friday, the 25th is “THE LOST CITY” with Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum, taking the leads in this comedy of a shut-away romance book author who gets talked into doing a book tour by her agent Da’Vine Joy Randolph. What ensues is complete hilarity for a good first portion of the film.

Loretta Sage (Sandra Bullock), is a successful romance novelist, though she is also grieving the loss of her husband. She reluctantly agrees to do a ‘final’ book tour by her agent Beth (Da’Vine Joy Randolph), as she adds in the books ‘famous’ cover model Adam (Channing Tatum), to the tour much to Beth’s chagrin. As we soon find out, with Loretta and her husbands love of history, she has accidentally wrote in the book on where to find the location of fortune in an ancient burial spot of a notable King and Queen. This brings our villain, Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe), out in full force with his team Rafi (Héctor Aníbal), and Julian (Thomas Forbes Johnson), who kidnap Loretta with the thought being, she can lead them to the site.

The first half of the film comes at you fast and hard, with one-liners and features most spectacularly, our two scene stealers. The first is ex-Navy Seal Jack Trainer (Brad Pitt), who is hired by Beth and her social media assistant, giving us our second scene stealer, Allison (Patti Harrison), that will have you laughing your socks off for the first half of the movie. Albeit, in the second half, the laughs slow down drastically as the film gets a lot more serious with attempts at character arcs and story moments, while not bad, they are ones we’ve seen a many times before. Going into full romance novel mode without as much comedy, the second half falls a little flatter than what it was going with.

Directors Aaron and Adam Nee do the smart move here with giving Bullock and Tatum most of the screen time, as their chemistry is undeniable. As well, Tatum doing full nod to ‘Fabio’ cover-boy in the beginning gives us a hoot of fun. Supporting cast does well to keep the pace and relevance with Brad Pitt, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Patti Harrison and Oscar Nuñez getting their fair share of inclusion in this movie to stay relevant to the plot and relationships of the character. I wasn’t in love with Radcliffe who seems a bit out of place as he goes almost too big in his role as villain, when some subtlety might have played better.

Had they stuck with the formula they were going with, this would be a great comedy instead of just a good one. As is, it’s still a load of fun and brings something new to the box office this weekend where it should do well.

Grade: C+

Follow me on twitter: @pegsatthemovies or Instagram: Peggyatthemovies

Review Screening: Tuesday, March 18, 2022 ~Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

“THE LOST CITY” from Paramount Pictures is in theaters Friday March 25, 2022

DAY 4 ~ COUNTDOWN TO THE OSCARS ~ “BEST DIRECTOR”

DAY 4 of my “Countdown to the Oscars” and it’s BEST DIRECTOR time. So here we are with my reminder: I’m giving who I think the winner will be and my pick for whom I might like it to be. As it stands, it looks like Jane Campion will win and I don’t think anybody is going to be mad about that. And the nominees are:

NOMINEES

BELFASTKenneth Branagh

Belfast was so beautifully shot by Branagh that it makes me think – okay, yes, then maybe. It was as well a lovely story, but will the Oscars offers any upsets this year?…

DRIVE MY CARRyusuke Hamaguchi

Ah, yes – the underdog for sure here in this race – again, such a beautifully directed film it’s hard not to want a little upset in this category and if not that, at least the hope the Hamaguchi will give us another magical masterpiece soon.

LICORICE PIZZAPaul Thomas Anderson

I gotta give this one a flat no. Paul Thomas Anderson is definitely an acquired taste, and while I’ve loved some of this films, this one he just made one too many faux pauxs for me.

THE POWER OF THE DOGJane Campion WINNER

Jane’s done amazing work over the years. Is it my fave film? No, but I won’t be annoyed as directorial wise it’s done very well.

WEST SIDE STORYSteven Spielberg MY PICK

Honestly, it’s hard not to have a part of me want Spielberg here as he was firing on all cylinders in a visual sense. It was very reminiscent of the young Spielberg and most of all, it was exciting to watch.

Thanks all for taking the time to give this a read. Let me know your thoughts on if you agree or disagree with my picks. Don’t forget to give this page a follow or on twitter as well @pegsatthemovies/IG: peggyatthemovies

Cheers!

SXSW REVIEW: “NOTHING LASTS FOREVER” (2022) Showtime

One of the most fascinating documentaries at SXSW was from director Jason Kohn, who takes on the diamond trade with “NOTHING LASTS FOREVER”. The documentary, takes a good, hard look at the world of diamond cartels and most importantly, of the difference between synthetic and real diamonds. Clue: you won’t know the difference and De Beers Diamond Corp. is of course, involved up to their eyeballs as per usual.

On the one hand, its completely fascinating and shows how diamond companies didn’t just sell a product, they sold an idea of what a diamond is, and what the fairy tale story of getting a diamond is comprised of. On the other hand, it delves deep into the synthetic diamond world with less-than-savoury characters like Martin Rapaport of the Rapaport Diamond group. Rapaport, might just be the true epitome of despicable elitist, as we watch him give a clown-car of a speech of why synthetic diamonds are “boogeyman under the bed”, to an audience of equally elitist people. It’s plainly obvious that anything that comes out of Rapaport’s mouth is said only to protect his financial interests.

Then you have De Beers Diamond EVP for brands and consumer markets, Stephen Lussier, prominently featured in this film. oh De Beers. Being Dutch, you grow up with the idea that De Beers is so good, and so wonderful as many Dutch South Afrikaans, were employed by the company that controlled almost the entire diamond trade from around 1889 thru the early 2000’s. Even in this docu at one point, they paint De Beers as saints that saved Botswana by building schools, highways, giving them medical care etc., but clearing up the idea in it’s own way by cutting to a lion doing some pretty graphic things, essentially letting you know that all that glitters is not real. We now know De Beers essentially used the Botswanian people as slaves to harness and keep the fantasy of a diamond signifying ‘eternal love’, alive. Essentially by telling the ever duped public, the bigger the diamond, the more you’re loved. For anyone who has ever seen “Blood Diamond”, just know that THAT is the more the true story of the diamond world.

Then we have Dusan Simic who simply tells it like it is. Simic is smart gemologist, sort of a madman-type personality, who seems to fall victim of his own creation. He tries desperately to develop technology to differentiate lab-grown diamonds from genuine product. While he lays it all on the line, his technology ideal fully collapses as we see him sadly end up as an Uber driver. While almost tragic to watch, he also ends the film with his new ideal of creating the perfect un-detectable perfect diamond in hand. Who knows if it’s real as we are just left wondering.

Lastly, and probably the most eye-opening and actually quite fun, is Aja Raden. She is woven throughout the film and totally blows the lid off here and is at the heart of Kohn’s diamond rip-off story. With a snarky-ness not usually seen in a documentary of this nature, Raden throws caution to the win and takes down every marketing myth ever created about diamonds. She offers up commentary clearly not the slightest bit concerned with the repercussions on her career it all might have nor her or the diamond industry as a whole, reputation. She is also the only female interviewed here as apparent early on that this is a male dominated industry, which should come as no surprise to anyone. At the end, she formulates probably the best summary of the entire industry: “they, (meaning De Beers) created an illusion so spectacular it turned into truth.” As well, noting “You don’t want people who question things. Those aren’t good consumers.” Facts.

If you’re like me, you stopped believing in the diamond fantasy years ago and seeing something like this let’s you this was the right thing. GIA certified means nothing, one thing is certain from now on, you can’t tell the real thing from a fake any longer. And that difference no longer matters to those making the billions of dollars by not just duping the every-(wo)man here, but the suppressing of billions of diamonds, as well. They are just held in warehouses around the world in order to make you think you are buying into a dream, yet a fake one at that.

Grade: A

Follow me on twitter: @pegsatthemovies or Instagram: Peggyatthemovies

LOOK FOR “NOTHING LAST FOREVER” UPCOMING RELEASE ON SHOWTIME

SXSW REVIEW: “THE COW” (2022)

Winona Ryder is truly at some of her best here in Eli Horowitz’s “THE COW“. Along with Dermot Mulroney in this rather fun “genetic” little mystery thriller, that twists along to an ending you’d never quite think of. While it’s not without it’s problems, it is still just simple fun.

With a film title has nothing to do with the animal it’s named after, the story follows Kath (Winona Ryder), and her boyfriend Max (John Gallagher Jr.), as they arrive at a remote cabin in the redwoods and mysteriously discover it already occupied by a younger couple, one Greta (Brianne Tju) and one Al (Owen Teague). The question of why is answered quickly as it’s clear the rental has already been double-booked, so neither couple has anywhere else to go, with Kath and Max being quickly invited to stay ‘just one night’.

And the mystery only deepens when she wakes up to find out Max just up and disappeared with Greta, and a broken up Al is the one to tell her the next day. Kath goes home, but randomly becomes obsessed with getting to the bottom of their sudden breakup – but will learning the truth be worse than she could ever imagine? Yes, yes it can. See what we end up finding out is the ever so important backstory. Kath is older than Max, by 10 to 15 years, as well, Kath is insecure about herself, and being in a relationship with a younger man has made her even more doubtful of her attractiveness, as we see her examining the wrinkles on her face.  On the other hand, Max isn’t very mature for his age, doesn’t even do the most basic of things like drive, and seems to be out of place at a dinner party with Kath’s friends. Turns out, the trip to the woods was an attempt by Max to keep Kath showing her he CAN be the guy for her, and for Kath to keep Max, showing him that she can be adventurous. Which speaks volumes about what is to happen later as she ends up meeting Nicholas (Dermot Mulroney), the man who actually owns the cabin, on her attempt to find out who Greta really is. While similar in age, and while he might be somewhat of a recluse, Nicholas clearly also has his life together, although as we soon find out, not in exactly the way we thought he did. 

While the film continues on with twists and turns, not all of them come off as one is not sure if this film is every going to go horror on them, or continue on the path it seems to be heading of everything relying on that one fateful night. Honestly, all the credit here goes to Ryder for pulling the bizarre middle and ending twist off, as without her, Tju and Teague, making those twists from left field that keep you engaged in this mystery ride along with Kath wouldn’t be anywhere near as enjoyable. That they can keep you on your toes guessing, even questioning her end-result intentions till the very last moment, is the point of all of it. Without them, this would not be the clever thriller that it is – even with it’s faults on display – they help pull it off.

Having just been picked up by Vertical Entertainment, the film is set to release later this year. Don’t miss it.

Grade: C+

Follow me on twitter: @pegsatthemovies or Instagram: Peggyatthemovies

COUNTDOWN: 7 DAYS OF OSCAR ~ DAY 1 ~

Well here we are! For the first time in a few years, I’m bringing back the “SEVEN DAYS OF OSCARS”. You know that magical time of year where once again, I give a countdown of my top Oscar categories- who I think will win – and what my pick would be – as those two choices sometimes differ. This year I’m starting off gently “Best International Film” or as they used to call it “Best Foreign Language Feature” – and the nominees are:

INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM

NOMINEES

DRIVE MY CAR – Japan – My pick / WINNER

Hands down probably some of the best three hours of filmmaking I’ve watched in a long time, and I’m not usually someone who is good with films being that long – with the credits rolling in at around the hour mark – you’re not sure why it’s happening – but it’s okay as you’ve got two more glorious hours to watch this masterpiece of filmmaking and acting.

FLEE – Denmark

Flee was different and Flee was animated. Those are two things that can be said about this film and being honest, it was a hard watch as sometimes you equate animation with a film more of the light, Disney style. Not a hardcore story of one man’s fight for freedom along with his families plight. It definitely wasn’t a ‘light’ film.

THE HAND OF GOD – Italy

Interesting plot here – adding in one of favourite sports to the mix made it interesting, was a bit heavy handed on the religious points for me.

LUNANA: A YAK IN THE CLASSROOM – Bhutan

Sadly, I never had a chance to view this one so it’s hard for me to rate it at all – I wasn’t able to find it playing anywhere here and by the time it came to VOD – I had forgotten until now.

THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD – Norway

This was definitely an entertaining watch and I loved the lead performances, and while I know it’s the favourite of many, it doesn’t strike me as the winner.

SXSW REVIEW: “SERIOUSLY RED” (2022) Roadshow Films

“It’s Hard to Be a Diamond in a Rhinestone World” – Dolly Parton

Director Gracie Otto makes a bold choice and opens her film “SERIOUSLY RED”, with a terrific and unorthodox lead into to her main character, Raylene or “Red” (Krew Boylan), as we come to know her. She captures her sitting in the bathtub while on a real estate client call, drinking a glass of wine with ice in it. The call reflects this perfectly, and it is as well, the perfect introduction to a character and story that will take us down so many different roads of life as we watch, often predicting what will happen before we see it.

The aptly named Red – due to the gorgeous red hair she was born with, has been fixated on one celebrity in particular her whole life – Dolly Parton. The obsession rolls to the point of going to her company awards banquet dressed as Dolly, which in turn leads to a karaoke performance one will not soon forget. But deep down, Red is a woman with low self-esteem, thanks in part sadly due to her mother Viv (Jean Kittson), with whom she can’t seem to please. Red has pursued this, that and the other, her whole life, with nothing being truly successful in any of them, and can now add Real Estate to that list of things, as she gets fired. But within this crazy evening Red has discovered the world of impersonators, in no thanks to a fantastic Elvis (Rose Byrne), and set’s off to pursue her dream of becoming a Dolly Parton impersonator.

After meeting a talent scout Teeth (Celeste Barber), who has a story about her own name that needs to be heard to be believed, the rest of story follows Red as she first discovers this whole new world of messy artist impersonators. She goes full tilt when meeting Wilson (Bobby Cannavale), who himself was once a Neil Diamond impersonator, and still looks it. Red hits it hard going from a fair, homemade karaoke singer to actually fully immersing herself into Dolly, and not just the big wig, heavy make-up, and frilly costumes, but to some darned fine singing as well. She takes it one step further and falls in love with a Kenny Rogers impersonator named, if you want to believe him, Kenny (Daniel Webber). Losing herself completely though is costly and not just for the implants she gets as well, but for the loss of one of her truest childhood friends, Francis (Thomas Campbell), as he begins to question her losing any identity of her actual self.

But oh this journey is fun at moments, it’s exciting, it’s hard, it’s sad and it’s so heartfelt as you really get a good look inside this entire world of impersonators. With it always being said celebrities have influence, you see just how it can be fun, but also how it can go completely overboard and overblown in someone’s life. The acting here is sublime by Boylan who hasn’t been seen much out of her home country of Australia and note is given here to the native lands and those whom live on them by her as well. As well as acting, Boylan wrote the screenplay, got Rose Byrne to do an amazing Elvis, and Bobby Cannavale, while being the only American in the film, belts out an “I Am.. I Said” as Neil Diamond that will have you up and singing along.

At the end, Red will also reflect on her own life choices, learn to trust herself, and find her way through her crazy journey of life. ‘Seriously Red’ is a story with heart and soul threading throughout it’s journey – it’s fun along with being an oh-so-charming of a watch. And remember to always ALWAYS: “Be Yourself Because Everyone is taken.” – Dolly Parton

Grade: B+

Follow me on twitter: @pegsatthemovies or Instagram: Peggyatthemovies

REVIEW: “X” (2022) A24

Paying homage to the slashers of previous decades is nothing new, but director Ti West’s new movie “X” definitely puts a different spin on this one, one that brings to definition a new term for film type: Porn-horror-emdy, as it’s truly a dark comedy, mixed with some of the weirdest horror yet seen, all the while shooting a porn movie.

It’s 1979, and strip-club owner Wayne (Martin Henderson), had gotten a group of friends, and employees, together to shoot a porn film that will make them all famous. There’s Wayne’s girlfriend Maxine (Mia Goth), Bobby-Lane (Brittany Snow), and Jackson (Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi), who will star in this one of a kind film as of course, this won’t be just any old porn film. This is going to be a ‘good dirty movie’ as wanna-be serious writer, director, editor, and cinematographer R.J. (Owen Campbell), tells anyone who will listen, and he’s here to prove that it’s possible to do just that. He’s ready to do anything and everything it takes to make it so, and he’s brought along his girlfriend Lorraine (Jenna Ortega), as boom-mic operator. Of course, given that this is the lowest of low budget productions, the cast and crew are all together at a remote farmhouse in backwoods Texas, owned by an really creepy elderly couple who are supposedly unaware of what goings on are to take place. And as predicted, the bodies start dropping.

As the majority of the film revolves around this singular location, an old farm seemingly in the middle of nowhere, Texas, you know it’s just ripe for plenty of slasher turns, what you don’t expect is the who and the why. It helps here that characters are written well, likable and fun. Despite the sleazy-ness of the material they’re attempting to make, they don’t feel shallow or sleazy themselves. They believe in their work and the reasons for making it, and in turn, so do we the audience. While it may have been nice to get a little more depth out of them, they clearly have history and there are things hinted at that never get much development, they’re at least a decent crowd of folks who are fun to be around.

But the direction they take with some of the “horror” late in the movie is off-putting. It’s understandable what they are going for here and it’s point, and trust, the point does come across almost in all the wrong ways. It still doesn’t change how you feel which is unsettled, and grossed out, but not in the right ways, not in the ‘scared’ way. Luckily you have a wonderful kicking-it-back to the 70’s soundtrack, that bounces the film up a beat, along with a great cast doing a really great job. Most especially to take note of here is Brittany Snow, whose turn as a wannabe porn star makes for a hilarious return to horror for the actress, along withJenna Ortega, dubbed the ‘church mouse’, giving us a transforming surprise. Meanwhile, Mescudi does an formidable job as the guy full of bravado, a veteran who fears nothing, even when he should. Still, this is Mia Goth’s movie as she pulls double duty as both the lead character and as house owner Pearl. Even when buried under tons of makeup, her performance comes strongly through.

“X” is by far not a perfect film, and like pretty much all slasher films, there are some characters who exist just to get killed off in predictable fashion, and none of death scenes are horribly scary, but the true fear lies within the point of the film which can also be gag-able as well. Summing it all up, “X” is a trip, but the cast is a blast – the film isn’t as much so. But it’s definitely different.

Grade: C

Follow me on twitter: @pegsatthemovies or Instagram: Peggyatthemovies

Premiere Review Screening: Tuesday, March 15, 2022 ~Courtesy of A24

“X” from A24 is in theaters Friday March 18, 2022

SXSW REVIEW: “I LOVE MY DAD” (2022)

“The following actually happened. My Dad asked me to tell you it didn’t.”

One thing I can honestly tell you going into SXSW Film Festival is, I didn’t expect to utter the words, “Patton Oswalt is in the best film I’ve seen from the festival so far”. But alas, here I am with “I LOVE MY DAD”, from first time writer/director James Morosini – who picks up the co-lead role as well, which makes sense as it’s his story that is being told, though as noted by the opening credit quote, his dad says it never did. And away we go on one of the most entertaining road trip comedies to come along in some time.

The story opens with Franklin (James Morosini), leaving a mental health institution having gone through a treatment program after a suicide attempt, leaving his mother Diane (Amy Landecker), overtly concerned about his well-being. While in group therapy, Franklin decided to set some “emotional boundaries” for himself, with the very first one being with his father, Chuck (Patton Oswalt). Chuck has always been a distanced dad in Franklin’s life, one who calls or posts on his sons social media sites, but always missing the big moments from his life leaving Franklin to have always felt he doesn’t care. So Franklin does what we all do when we ‘break up’ with someone, he blocks his father on social media and his phone, which in turn, freaks his dad out once he realizes what has happened.

From there what takes place can only be believed if it is seen as Chuck, feeling left out of his sons life, becomes “Becca” played wonderfully by Claudia Sulewski, a local waitress from the diner in town. Setting up a in ‘real life’ relationship with his own son, knowing well before hand, it’s not going to end well. But before you know it, there he is, driving his son to Maine to meet his dream girl all the while digging himself into a deeper and deeper hole as the trip progresses. You might ask yourself what kind of person would do this – yet alone to their own son – well that is what makes the story here as if there ever was an award for ‘worst dad ever’, then we would have a strong candidate for the winner right here with Chuck.

Of course, there must be some liberties taken as Morosini handles the story with aplomb in the way he dictates the pace, taking it to various levels and making it all the more uncomfortable for his father character along the way. With the adding of catfish lies, the discomfort level raises both comedically adding a tense, crazy suspense, knowing the outcome here is going to be brutal. The weaving in of wonderfully filmed sequences wherein it’s like Becca and him are together, with the bringing text sequences to life, only adds to this.

In the end, the success of this entire film is brought down on it’s leads with a lot of us forgetting that Patton Oswalt is not just a stand up comedian, but can really act, including myself as told in the opening lines here, but then you remember ‘United States of Tara’ or ‘Justified’ and it all comes back to you. As for Morosini, he is gold here – not just doing double duty, but triple duty and it all comes to fruition. Add in a great supporting cast of Lil Rey Howery as Chuck’s friend Jimmy, who tries to tell him how wrong what he is doing really is, and his kinda girlfriend Erica, the always wonderful Rachel Dratch, and you’ve got yourself the Grand Jury Prize winner for Narrative Feature as SXSW Film Festival folks.

Grade: A-

Follow me on twitter: @pegsatthemovies or Instagram: Peggyatthemovies

REVIEW: “THE OUTFIT” (2022) Focus Features

Bringing us back some old school Al Capone-type gangster with it’s opening, director Graham Moore makes his directorial debut here with “THE OUTFIT”, giving us a proper whodunnit mystery that pops along at a decent pace without ever giving too much away.

Mark Rylance takes the lead here as Leonard Burling, a master tailor, or “cutter” as he says a tailor “sews buttons and does hems”. Leonard nicknamed “English” by some of his less than savoury customers, who immigrated over from the U.K., runs a small, high-end tailor shop in Chicago along with his assistant, Mabel (Zoey Deutch). As you watch, we note the shop is possibly also being used as a money drop point for local Irish gangster Roy Boyle (Simon Russell Beale). When son-of-the-boss Richie Boyle (Dylan O’Brien), and his side henchman, Francis (Johnny Flynn), find an envelope with dangerous information from an organization known only by their insignia and secret name “The Outfit”. This makes the shop, along with Leonard himself, caught in the middle of a dangerous game between the rival gangs of the city, all of whom buy his suits.

(L to R) Johnny Flynn as “Francis”, Alan Mehdizadeh as “Monk” and Zoey Deutch as “Mable” in director Graham Moore’s THE OUTFIT, a Focus Features release. Courtesy of Nick Wall / Focus Features

With the entire film being shot in a single location is a wonderful choice here by Moore with the camera never leaving the confines of the shop, it allows us to see an the entire expansive world of the mystery unfolding before us, and recognizing small details that show up within to add to the makeup of the film. We watch as Leonard has to try to outwit these enemies to make it through the night, and within the singular walls of the store, it lets the characters develop, lets tension build, and keeps everything contained. As well, it let’s the production design sets the mood for the era and elegance within this high-end shop that it all takes place in. The costume design is beautifully done and hits the era of men wearing hats with their beautifully tailored suits, with the musical score helps keep pace with all that is going on around with each character in the shop.

Good acting by the two leads, Mark Rylance who is such a treasure as an actor, and just the gem that makes this film shine, along with Zoey Deutch, who gives her role a snark of sarcasm and confidence that makes one take note. The supporting cast of O’Brien, whose thick Chicago wise-guy accent is distracting at first as it’s so overdone, but he turns it all around with his good turn for the dramatic here, as well Flynn who plays his backstabbing best friend who isn’t afraid to do whatever it takes to get to the top. Adding in a nice surprise at the end with Nikki Amuka-Bird as Violet, leader of her own Chicago-bred gang, brings a bold note to the film, all the while keeping us guessing as to her true intentions. Note here again to costume design, as Amuka-Bird is flawless in her hat/coat of the time look.

Nikki Amuka-Bird (center) stars as “Violet” in director Graham Moore’s THE OUTFIT, a Focus Features release. Courtesy of Focus Features

While not without it’s distractions, ‘The Outfit is not a film of ‘big’ moments happening or filled with big shoot outs or heavy violence, if you’re looking for the tommy gun shootouts between men in big suits riding side-car on cars while shooting up the streets, this is not your movie. If you’re looking for sophisticated decently done whodunnit that unfolds with time, this is your watch and I hope it doesn’t fly under anyone’s radar as it deserves to be watched.

Grade: B

Follow me on twitter: @pegsatthemovies or Instagram: Peggyatthemovies

Review Screening: Monday, March 7, 2022 ~Courtesy of Ginsberg/Libby PR

Focus Features will release THE OUTFIT in theaters this Friday March 18, 2022

REVIEW: “TURNING RED” (2022) Pixar/Disney+

Admittedly, it’s been a while since I’ve been a 13 year old girl, yet here I am reliving it and loving almost every moment of Domee Shi’s new venture which captures that adolescence feeling once again in Pixar’s “TURNING RED”. But this little coming of age story does so much more than just take you back to a place in time of your life, as it reaches across not just cultural boundaries not usually seen, but just what being a young girl that is different is all about, and best of all – letting us all know, it’s okay to be different.

With our throwback setting here being Toronto, Canada in 2002, 13-year-old Meilin Lee (voiced by Rosalie Chiang) is a girl on a mission. She is a straight-A student with her group of loyal ride-or-die best friends Miriam (Ava Morse), Priya (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), and Abby (Hyein Park), by her side, and all they dream of is going to see the hottest boy band on the planet ‘4*Town’ (Jordan Fisher, Finneas O’Connell, Topher Ngo, Grayson Villanueva, and Josh Levi). A kind of apt name considering there are five of them, but isn’t that part of the fun of loving a boy band? Things like these are not valid to adults, but to 13 year old’s ‘in love’ they make perfect sense. On the other side of her life, the family part, there is a bit of a problem though as she feels held back by her overprotective mother, Ming (Sandra Oh). Mei Mei loves her mom, and while they may seem to enjoy doing the same things, noted in the many photos they take together, along with the job they do of keeping the family temple clean, and most of all, they enjoy dad/husband Jin (Orion Lee) cooking, or should we say eating his cooking! But they are worlds apart from having the same mindset, though only one of them is aware of this.

MOTHER, PLEASE! — Disney and Pixar’s all-new original feature film “Turning Red” will debut exclusively on Disney+ © 2022 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Taking all this into mind, imagine how Mei feels when she discovers she transforms into a giant red panda when she can’t contain her emotions and then finds out that not only her mom has had this happen to her, but her aunties and grandma (Wai Ching Ho), as well. The trick is to control it, but that isn’t as easy as it seems. From here, we are taken on a fun little journey of just what the girls all do to get themselves to see their musical loves. In between the up and down journey is where there are a few slip ups here and there with some adult panda transformation material, that to reveal would give away all the spoiler points of the story. But otherwise the catchy soundtrack that you will be singing for awhile after it ends, will also bring back some fun memories of the early 2000’s as the music is almost a character in and of itself.

WE’VE GOT YOUR (FLUFFY) BACK © 2022 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

There are moments where the discussions that take place that in truth, are refreshing to see and hear as things like this should be done and made more acceptable, instead of girls always having to feel shame at things like starting menstruation and what it all entails. Along with some fun comedic moments, ‘Turning Red’ all in all, is an incredibly cute coming of age story. In a world where girls aren’t afraid to be smart or different any more, along with the cultural influences and point of view that we don’t usually get to see on screen, this is one not to miss on Disney Plus for all ages.

Grade: B-

Follow me on twitter: @pegsatthemovies or Instagram: Peggyatthemovies

Review Screening: Courtesy of Disney

TURNING RED ARRIVES ON MARCH 11, 2022 ON DISNEY+.