It’s exhausting to love this movie. Refreshing, unique, under-promised-over-delivered “kids” movie. I love and relate to it so much.
Protaganist Mei-Mei has the perfect 13-year old girl life anyone could’ve asked for. She’s got that confident nonchalant personality, surrounded by supportive friends, and brought up by parents who absolutely loved her and raised her exceptionally well. However, her overbearing mother has started to introduce some embarrassing moments into her life. Being the good girl she’s always been, she accepted it as doctrine. Family comes first — it’s for her own good, she thinks. But later on as we see, her inherited ability to turn into a red panda required her to make a tough decision: to keep the panda or no panda?
Throughout the movie I’ve been asking myself this same question and I’m curious how Mei-Mei would’ve chosen, and why. This kept me at the edge of my seat, as it is unpredictable what would Pixar wants us to choose. If you think about it, both decisions has their pros and cons, and Pixar being the ambassador for deep life lessons, either decision had equal potential for a great narrative and message. I really don’t know what to expect. So I just held on the ride and invested a lot of self-reflection in this philosophical movie while I empathised with Mei’s journey along the way.
The climax of the movie exceeded my expectations in every way. Based on just watching the trailer or the first half of the movie, it never occur to me of the ridiculous things that will happen in the climax. When the climax happened, that’s when it clicked in my mind like, this movie is so unexpectedly bizarre. While some take it negatively, I took it as refreshing, original, bold, fun, awesome and setting a bar. It was probably the most memorable scene out of the movie because it’s so weird. I have nothing but praises and compliments, because ultimately it gave me joy and laughter.
Spoilers here. Finally, she chose to keep the panda because of what it meant to her: her panda being able to spread joy to her friends, being herself and embracing her inherited ancestral gift. I really enjoyed this on-your-face simple message, and frankly you can imagine the panda to be anything at all to add layers to that message. I personally see it as a symbolism of growing up and being your own person.
It is a guilty pleasure to watch this because everything is so perfect for Mei-Mei. It makes you yearn to live in her universe where you get little to no setbacks nor consequences in anything you do. For example: she panda-ed in school: doesn’t have to pay for damages, nobody judges, nobody’s exploiting her, nobody’s curious, everyone loves her and accepts her without any questions. If we’d really panda-ed in our reality, let’s just say things would be much more complicated, that’s for sure.
I felt a bit depressed to come back to the real world after watching this film. I wished I was perfect little Mei-Mei in her perfectly supportive universe. After some coping and self-reflection, not all is lost. She did inspire me that reality is accepting the cards you’re dealt with and make the best out of it. Actually, the applicable main message of this movie is already out there in the opening, which is when Mei said: “I accept and embrace all labels.”
Everyone just loves you in different ways. So don’t hold back in being you!
— — To be updated. There is a lot to talk about in this movie that definitely impacted my life in some way. I’m sleepy, tired and on a work deadline. I will articulate about the good, the bad and the ugly of this film the way it deserves, someday.