Turning Red, Pixar’s latest feature film, is a movie brimming with lots of heart, charm, and amazing animation. The feature is also set in my hometown of Toronto, Canada. For eagle-eyed viewers, there are tons of easter eggs for not just Canadian fans to enjoy but nods to previous and upcoming Pixar films. Make sure to check out our full review by our own Jesse Lab here.
I have to admit going back to the year 2002 and seeing so much nostalgia that is now gone tugged at my heart a little. Canada’s very own Domee Shi, who also directed the adorable short Bao, helmed Turning Red and it shows. It was outrageously fun to see glimpses of things true Torontonians can appreciate as well as all of the depictions of aspects of Canada represented in a full-length film. Let’s take a look at some of the best Easter Eggs Pixar included. Let us know if we missed any in the comments below.
Pizza Planet Truck
Ah yes, it would not be a Pixar film without a cameo from the famous Pizza Planet Truck. First introduced in Toy Story back in 1995, this iconic vehicle has made an appearance in every Pixar film since. Some are harder to catch than others but here it is during Mei’s run to the SkyDome as she joins her friends at the concert. Kinda wish it was really just sitting on the streets of my hometown would be cool to see.
If you live in Toronto -or really anywhere in the Greater Toronto Area-, you will no doubt have come across one of these convenience stores. Part of a chain, it was fun to see something so memorable for many included. Also included is bagged milk. Yes! That is a real thing in parts of Canada. We still have cartons but we also sell milk in bags, an interesting concept for Non-Canadians for sure!
Toronto is home to many iconic landmarks but none more so than our CN Tower and SkyDome, now known as the Roger’s Center. For many in the city who grew up with that name, the SkyDome will always remain known as such, no matter what they re-name it. Seeing the iconic logo on the famous entertainment venue once again brought lots of nostalgia and good memories for me. Nice that Pixar included it in Turning Red, forever memorializing it through film.
View Music Channel aka MuchMusic
While the USA had MTV and VH1, we Canadians had our own version known as MuchMusic. In a “blink and miss it” scene, you will notice Pixar renamed it “View” during a promo for 4Town that Mei and her mom watch. MuchMusic still lives on today but in a different way. They have since re-launched on TikTok but seeing a glimpse of the good old days was nice.
Besides The Pizza Planet Truck, another Pixar staple bounces into Turning Red. The Luxo Ball is so small that it’s very hard to make out but shows up during a party sequence later on in the film. The Luxo Ball also appears in pretty much every Pixar film and the animators like to hide it in a “Where’s Waldo” sort of way.
Timbits (Tim Hortons)
What would a Canadian-inspired film be without one of our favorite donut shops that have origins in Canada? I am speaking of course about Tim Hortons and the yummy mini-donuts known as Timbits which make an appearance during a breakfast scene.
One of Mei’s best friends, Priya, seems to be an avid fan of a book series that is a nod to Twilight. In the Pixar universe, these novels are known as “Nightfall.” They still have the same vibes as the popular Twilight franchise that rivaled Harry Potter in the mid-00s’. It makes sense since Priya is also sporting black nail polish and a very “too cool for school vibe.” Ironically Twilight didn’t exist during this time period having only debuted on shelves in 2005, and Turning Red takes place in 2002.
The letters A113 are another cleverly hidden easter egg located in various films depicted in cheeky ways. It’s a direct reference to the California Insitute of The Arts, which many of Pixar’s animators go to study. A113 is an inside joke that also makes reference to the classroom that both graphic design and character animation students utilize.
Some famous names who attended include John Lasseter, Tim Burton, Michael Peraza, and Brad Bird. It made its first appearance on a license plate in an episode of Amazing Stories by Bird. A113 has not just appeared in Pixar films exclusively, but also in Walt Disney Pictures films. In Turning Red you need a magnifying glass to make it out, but it appears twice. First on the chalk machine near the end of the film and then on tickets to 4town in the credits.
What would a film depicting Canada be without an appearance from one of our national animals? Mei’s mom has a cute moose bobblehead on her dashboard in one scene. Unfortunately, no Beaver or Canada Goose sightings.
Kevin From Up
If you loved Pixar’s Up then you no doubt will remember Kevin. She makes a brief appearance as a skeleton in one of the classrooms. I wonder what happened to the poor bird.
Nokia Phones (Jokia)
For those who grew up in the early 2000s, flip phones and Nokia were all the rage. Pixar, of course, included this but instead of official Nokia branding, we get “Jokia,” a cute reference to the popular cellphone. They also make reference to a popular brand of backpack known as JanSport but renamed “Bagsport.” Can’t be too careful with those copyrights.
TTC (Toronto Transit Commission)
Another Toronto exclusive reference is our transit system known as the TTC or Toronto Transit Commission and sometimes referred to as “The Rocket.” We see multiple references to this such as Mei displaying her Adult Pass and of course the streetcars themselves. During the Toronto premiere, the stars hitched a ride on one of the streetcars. Many of the streetcars today have lost the older more classic feel for a sleek modern look but Pixar nailed their look from back in 2002 perfectly for Turning Red.
Mulan Happy Face Porridge (Congee)
Up isn’t the only Disney film that got an easter egg. The famous congee breakfast porridge that Mushu lovingly prepares for Mulan is recreated in Turning Red, minus Crickee of course!
Bao Reference and Dumplings
There is no way Domee Shi could direct this film and not include two references to her Academy Award-Winning short Bao. First, we have Mei and her dad making dumplings, and then there is an ad for Bao Restaraunt on a busy street. It’s always nice to see creators pay homage to past projects, and this will no doubt not be the last time we see references from Shi going forward in future projects.