Disney’s Meddling Couldn’t Stop Turning Red From Becoming My Favorite Pixar Movie of All Time

Oh my gosh??? This is so good???

I’m struggling to think of the last Pixar movie that was this good. I’m not sure any of them have been this good.

You know what? They haven’t. This is my favorite Pixar movie! And it isn’t particularly close!

Like, where do I even start? This movie is gorgeous. And it looks so different from any movie Pixar has ever made before? It’s apparently somewhat autobiographical on director and co-writer Domee Shi’s part, and, you know, wow shocking that we get really great, original ideas when a studio doesn’t just keep giving the same three or four white guys the director’s chair and keep making sequels of all of their preexisting properties. I’m sure a certain Mouse has a lot to do with those problems, but from what I hear Lasseter’s departure has also opened a lot of doors so hopefully this is the kind of thing we can look forward to more of in the future!!

One… not-so-great representation note: apparently Pixar had a ton of blatantly queer representation in this movie but Disney cut basically all of it. Coming on the heels of their refusal to condemn Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, it’s… just not a great look.

What survives is rather clear romantic tension between the protagonist Mei and her tomboy friend Ava, but that apparently wasn’t even the explicit relationship that was meant to be shown onscreen? There seems to be a lot of fan speculation (and possibly even confirmation from one of the film’s creative team) that Priya was meant to explicitly have a crush on a goth girl side character. And then there’s Tyler, who starts out as a bully but ends up showing up at the boy band concert and being embraced by the girls!

So, yeah, what we’re left with in the finished product of the movie is nothing more than queerbaiting, and that’s a damn shame. I would love to see what the filmmakers originally intended at some point. But like… I don’t know, guys, what did survive might be crumbs, but you can see enough of it that we were enthusiastically reacting to all the obvious gay stuff while watching the movie. It wasn’t until afterwards when I was doing some research that I found out that it had originally been much more explicitly gay and that all of it had been cut. Sigh.

I’ve already hinted at it a bit, but the characters and their relationships are really the movie’s not-so-secret weapon. Mei’s friend group is incredible, Mei herself is a wonderful protagonist and it’s incredible seeing her balance the things that are important to her. And while this movie has come under fire from conservatives for encouraging children to rebel, what I love about it is that Mei actually values both her family’s traditions and her desire to explore things outside of those traditions. And while her family is an obstacle at times, when the chips are down they’ve got her back!

Oh, and, I love the role of the boy band in this! Like, it feels very culturally authentic to my experience growing up in the 90s, and having them join in with the ceremony to help Mei’s mother at the end was simultaneously funny and genuinely heartwarming.

Wait how have I not talked about the elephant-sized red panda in the room.

I love, love, love that Mei is so determined that her being basically a were-red panda is a good thing, and that she doesn’t want to let go of it like her family has been for literally centuries! And although she has to fight her family’s disapproval at first, as previously mentioned they eventually make space for her and the resolution to the film is harmony, not a zero sum game.

Now release the Gay Cut so I can give this thing the full marks it deserves, Disney you fucking cowards.

(A-Rank)

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