Like many great Pixar movies before it, brand new feature Turning Red tells a universal story rooted in the specific, exploring puberty from the perspective of a Chinese Canadian tweenager in the early 2000s.


The film – which has now been released exclusively on Disney Plus – goes to great pains to recreate that specific setting, with director Domee Shi inspired by her own experiences growing up.

"It was really fun," she explained to when asked about bringing the period to life. "I mean, I have nostalgia and fondness for the early 2000s, and I feel like it's actually coming back now. I feel like teens now embrace the early 2000s once again.

"I just love how that era was so like... it's the beginning of the internet, that y2k kind of aesthetic. You would burn CDs for your friends and like mix CDs for your friends, you know, try to mate your Tamagotchis together.

"That was like a thing I remember. That technology was like just coming in. But it wasn't like everybody was on social media at the time. I just felt like that was just a really rich period to kind of tell this story."

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"And especially at that age, like if you told it now there's no way to tell it without talking about social media and the influence of that," added producer Lindsey Collins. "So to tell it kind of pre-that, that kind of introduction allowed it to be a simpler and more relational story, right?

"It's like, what matters to her are her friends and her family, not what everybody else in the world has to say. So I think that allowed it to be kind of a simpler and more kind of intimate portrayal of what it is to be 13."

At a press event prior to the launch of the film, the creative team outlined some of the things they did to make that setting come across – from Mei's denim skirt to her obsession with fictional boyband 4*Town to the presence of flip phones, CDs and jelly bracelets.

But one other key area in which the time period was brought to life was in the music, with prolific film composer and music producer Ludwig Goransson brought in to score the film.

"In addition to his prowess in movie scores, he's also a music producer who has worked with, you know, Childish Gambino, Justin Timberlake, Adele, Lizzo, to name just a few," Collins explained. "So he brought this perfect mix of traditional score and also a deep early 2000s pop knowledge to the movie."

And he wasn't the only prominent musician to play a big role in the finished film – pop sensation Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas O'Connell also wrote songs for the film. And although Eilish would only have been an infant at the time the film was set, Collins said she was a perfect fit.

"When we started thinking about songwriters who could capture the early 2000s sound and bring something fresh to it, Billie's name came up," she explained. "And after further research with the Disney music team, we had a better sense of Finneas and Billie and their influences, their style, and figured why not start with our dream choice?"

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Turning Red is out now on Disney Plus. You can sign up to Disney Plus for £7.99 a month or £79.90 a year now. Visit our Movies hub for more news and features and find something to watch tonight with our TV Guide.


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