Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem
Posted on August 2, 2023 at 5:40 pmB +
|Lowest Recommended Age:||4th - 6th Grade|
|MPAA Rating:||Rated PG for sequences of violence and action, language and impolite material|
|Profanity:||Some crude schoolyard language: crap, puke, piss off, etc.|
|Violence/ Scariness:||Extended and tense peril and violence, threats of wiping out humanity, scary creatures, weapons, disturbing images, sad deaths, barfing|
|Date Released to Theaters:||August 4, 2023|
Imagine a movie much more artistically ambitious than the toys it is based on. Yes, that would be “Barbie.” But it turns out “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem” is a nice surprise, with exceptionally inventive and vibrant animation and a funny script from the prolific Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (“Superbad,” “Pineapple Express,” “”Sausage Party”), Jeff Rowe (“The Mitchells vs. The Machines”) and Benji Samit and Dan Hernandez (“The Addams Family 2,” “Detective Pikachu”), and an all-star cast of voice talent that knocks the films best lines out of the park and into the next town.
We know the drill so well we can recite it along with the movie. Baby turtles and a rat were exposed to radioactive ooze (do not call it slime). The rat was Splinter (voiced here by Jackie Chan), who became an adoptive parent to the and 15 years later the turtles were walking upright, talking, trained in ninja-style combat, and named for four groundbreaking Renaissance artists: Leonardo (Nicolas Cantu) told briskly and energetically, establishing the stakes. In this version a scientist named Baxter Stockman (Giancarlo Esposito) created the ooze because he always felt like an outcast, closer to animals than to humans. Don’t think too hard about why, if this is so, he would want to mutate the animals so they would be closer to humans, just go with it.
Scary henchmen for imperious Cynthia Utrom (Maya Rudolph) arrive and kill Stockman. The ooze and the rat and turtle babies are washed away into the sewer. After one disastrous try, Splinter decides that to keep his adopted sons safe from humans, they would stay out of sight forever. But the teenagers want to explore the world and meet people. They’d even like to go to high school. A crime boss named “Superfly” has been organizing heists around the city. The turtles think they could win the support of the human community if they can stop him.
They have one human friend, a high school student and aspiring reporter named April (Ayo Edebiri of “The Bear”). She has been researching Superfly, and she wants to write about the turtles, so they team up.
The animation style has an engaging looseness, even messiness, to it, a welcome change from the pristine perfection of hyper-lifelike CGI or the thin, under-designed images of the original cartoons. There are plenty of pop culture references (Adele, “Avengers: Endgame,” Cool Ranch Doritos — party size), and some self-aware jokes (Donatello wonders why his only weapon is a stick — and learns to appreciate it, too). The interplay between the four turtles is high-spirited and Chan makes a warm-hearted and concerned adoptive dad. And when we meet up with Superfly and his team, we get a new bunch of characters with wild designs and brilliant voices. Paul Rudd’s mutant Gecko with a fondness for Four Non Blondes is one of the great cinematic treats of the summer. Rogen, his “Platonic” co-star Rose Byrne, and John Cena add their voices. But the standout of the film is Ice Cube as Superfly, who hates humans, but loves bowling.
Parents should know that this movie has extended fantasy-style peril and action with some scary-looking monsters and disturbing images, crude schoolyard language (crap, puke) and references, and a sad death.
Family discussion: What is the best way to show people you deserve appreciation and respect? Which turtle is your favorite and why?
If you like this, try: the other TMNT stories, “The Mitchells vs the Machines,” “The Bad Guys,” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse)