Say what you will about the studio’s random sequels, whether it’s with Woody and Buzz or Lightning McQueen, but nothing beats a good, highly creative Pixar original. Case in point: the new “Turning Red,” which manages to be a bit of kaiju monster jam, a loving homage to nerdy boy bands, and the rare Disney movie that uses sanitary napkins as a comedy device.

Directed by Domee Shi (who directed the Oscar-winning short “Bao”), the coming-of-age film (★★★ out of four; rated PG; airing on Disney+ Friday) cleverly uses the multicultural story of a teenage girl turning into a giant red panda when she gets excited, angry or otherwise overly emotional as a metaphor for adolescence. Yeah, “Teen Wolf” did it first – and “Turning Red” shares some aspects with that 1980s Michael J. Fox hit – but Shi crafts a heartwarming, thought-provoking and fun tale about female puberty and the evolution of the mother/daughter relationship.

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Set in early 2000s Toronto, “Turning Red” centers on 13-year-old honor student Mei (voiced by Rosalie Chiang), an eighth grade student who plays the flute and enjoys pop music with a team. from loyal besties devoted to dreamy guys from 4*Ville pop bands. She also works at her parents’ Chinatown temple dedicated to ancestor Sun Yee – a woman with the divine ability to transform into a magical beast to protect her village – and constantly seeks the approval of her tightly wounded mother Ming. and somewhat bossy (Sandra Oh).

Mei discovers that she is beginning to have strange feelings for boys, and her mother creates an embarrassing situation when she discovers a crush-worthy sketchbook of Mei from the local convenience store clerk. A series of fantastical nightmares lead to Mei waking up the next morning as an 8-foot-tall furry red panda with body odor. Suffice to say that she panics.

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Mei Lee (voiced by Rosalie Chiang, left) is a teenage girl who turns into a giant red panda when excited and Ming (Sandra Oh) is her Disney/Pixar overreacting mother. "Become red."

“I’m a big red monster!” Mei yells at her protective mother, who is ready for the “your body is starting to change” speech. The girl understands that if she calms down, she becomes normal again, except for her newly red hair. However, she feels, as when she enters the school, that many things have changed in her world. Some of those around Mei, however, realize that the panda brings out a new, positive side in her.

“Turning Red” definitely veers into familiar teen movie territory. When Ming refuses to let Mei attend a 4*Town stadium concert (“You’re gonna get whipped into a frenzy and a panda all over the place!”), the young enterprising and her pals create a panda-fueled side hustle to scrounge the ticket money so they can sneak in on their own.

Of course, the show is timed for the same night as a ritual to “cure” Mei and lock up her inner spirit animal. But when Mei’s mom makes her lunch with herbal tea for cramps, we all know what they’re talking about.

Mei (voiced by Rosalie Chiang, right) explains her predicament to best friends Abby (Hyein Park), Priya (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), and Miriam (Ava Morse) in "Become red."

The animation rises to Pixar’s usual high standards, this time designed to showcase the hyper-realistic and highly dramatic world of a teenage girl. There’s even a Japanese anime style to it, as Mei’s eyes get big, round, and exaggerated when she sees something cute, whether it’s a male classmate or a box full of kittens. (Plus, Godzilla fans will enjoy the sight of a huge crimson bear attacking Toronto’s SkyDome.)

Shi and Julia Cho’s script is full of great lines (“My panda, my choice, mom”) and a trio of 4*Town songs, written by pop phenom Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas O’Connell (who voices the ‘one of the boy banders), are as ridiculously catchy as you’d hope.

Pixar is at its best at finding a different angle to approach the personal, and the best parts of “Turning Red” are reminiscent of how “Inside Out” also explored growth — with heart, humor, and the occasional gag. The story will likely mean a lot to young girls struggling with body changes and new hormones, and to the moms and dads helping them through it.

And for everyone else, the movie reminds us to completely embrace that “messy, weird” inner beast that makes you, you.