A 13-year-old girl named Meilin turns into a giant red panda whenever she gets too excited.
Mei Lee (voice of Rosalie Chiang) is a confident, dorky 13-year-old torn between staying her mother’s dutiful daughter and the chaos of adolescence. Her protective, if not slightly overbearing mother, Ming (voice of Sandra Oh), is never far from her daughter – an unfortunate reality for the teenager. And as if changes to her interests, relationships and body weren’t enough, whenever she gets too excited (which is practically ALWAYS), she “poofs” into a giant red panda.
A confident thirteen-year-old girl is torn between staying her mother’s dutiful daughter and the chaos of adolescence. And as if it weren’t enough, whenever she gets too excited or stressed, she “poofs” into a giant red panda due to her ancestors’ association with the red pandas.
IMDb RATING : 7.1/10
Mei Lee is a 13-year-old girl who is torn between being her mother’s obedient daughter and the chaos of her youth. As if that were not enough, when she gets too excited, she turns into a big red panda.
Initial release: 21 February 2022
Production design: Rona Liu
Editor: Nicholas C. Smith
Distributed by: Pixar, Walt Disney Pictures, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
In 2002, Meilin “Mei” Lee is a 13-year-old Chinese-Canadian girl living in Toronto. She helps take care of the family’s temple dedicated to their ancestor, Sun Yee, and works to make her strict, overprotective mother Ming proud. Mei hides her personal interests from Ming, such as the fact that she and her best friends Miriam, Priya, and Abby are fans of the boy band 4*Town.
When Ming discovers Mei’s crush on Devon, the local convenience store clerk, she confronts him and unintentionally embarrasses Mei in public, including in front of school bully Tyler, which leads Mei to have a vivid nightmare involving red pandas. The next morning, Mei has transformed into a large red panda. She hides from her parents and discovers that she only transforms when she is in a state of high emotion. Ming initially believes Mei is experiencing her first period, but finds out the truth when she further embarrasses Mei at school, causing Mei to transform and run home.
Ming and Jin, Mei’s father, explain that Sun Yee was granted this transformation to protect her daughters, and every female family member since then has also transformed when they came of age. This has become inconvenient and dangerous in the modern age, so the red panda spirit must be sealed in a talisman by a ritual on the night of the Red Moon; the next being in a month’s time. Mei’s friends discover her transformation but take a liking to it, and Mei finds that concentrating on them helps control the red panda within her.
Ming allows Mei to resume her normal life but refuses to let Mei attend 4*Town’s upcoming concert. Instead, the girls secretly raise money for the tickets at school, exploiting the popularity of Mei’s red panda form, while lying to Ming. To cover the last ticket, Mei agrees to attend Tyler’s birthday party as the red panda. At the party, Mei is upset to discover that the concert will be held on her ritual night. In the midst of her rage, she attacks Tyler when he insults her family, frightening the other children. Ming discovers Mei’s activities and accuses her friends of corrupting and taking advantage of her. Ashamed and afraid to stand up to her mother, Mei fails to come to her friends’ defense.
Mei’s grandmother, Wu, and her aunts come to assist in her ritual, to Ming’s dismay. As Mei prepares herself, Jin finds videos she took of herself as the red panda with her friends and tells her she should not be ashamed of this side of her. During the ritual, as Mei’s red panda form is about to be sealed, she decides to keep her powers and abandons the ritual to attend the concert at the SkyDome. Her friends forgive her for her actions at the party, and they discover Tyler is also a 4*Town fan. However, during her escape from the temple, Mei inadvertently damaged her mother’s talisman; an enraged Ming transforms into a kaiju-sized red panda and disrupts the concert, intending to take back Mei by force.
Mei and Ming argue about Mei’s independence, and as they fight, Mei accidentally knocks her mother unconscious. Wu and the other aunts break their talismans to use their red panda forms to help drag Ming into a new ritual circle. Mei’s friends and 4*Town join in singing to complete the ritual, sending Mei, Ming, and the other women to the astral plane. Mei reconciles with Ming and helps her mend her bond with Wu, whom Ming accidentally scarred in anger at some point years ago before sealing her red panda form. The other women conceal their red pandas in new talismans, but Mei decides to keep hers, and Ming accepts that she is finding her own path. Later, as the Lee family raises money to repair the damage caused at the SkyDome, Mei and Ming’s relationship has improved, as Mei balances her temple duties-where her red panda is now an attraction-with spending time with friends, now including Tyler.