Film Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (Nickelodeon Movies/Paramount Pictures)

By: Jesse Striewski

In the late ’80s, I was totally that kid running around pretending to be their “favorite” Ninja Turtle with the rest of the neighborhood kids on the street and at birthday parties. And when the first theatrical film was released in 1990, I was instantly in line to see it on the big screen (and wish I still had the promotional poster that was handed out at the theater at the time!), as well as for The Secret of the Ooze a year later in 1991.

Years later in 2014 I would take my family to see the reboot, my son by then familiar with them thanks to various updated shows and toylines that had come along since the “good old days.” So it seemed only appropriate to once again take my kid – who at the time of this writing is indeed a teenager himself – to the latest feature film featuring the “Heroes in a Halfshell,” Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem.

Despite having Seth Rogen’s (who I have not found humorous in the least bit since his days of Freaks and Geeks) name attached to the project as screenwriter, I went in with as open a mind as possible. The result this time around lands somewhere in between part homage to the source material and it’s original time frame (watch for nods to both Vanilla Ice and Ferris Beuller’s Day Off), and part over-the-top goofyness in an effort to appeal to younger audiences.

The pros; the Turtles themselves are likeable enough (and actually voiced by all teens, most noticeably Brady Noon of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Mighty Ducks fame), albeit their characters are not given much individual identities this time around. John Cena, Ice Cube, and Paul Rudd are among many of the actors that lend their voice talents here as well.

The cons; the numerous liberties taken by the filmmakers are abundant here. Aside from the most obvious drastic changes to characters like Splinter and of course April O’Neil (voiced by Jackie Chan and Ayo Edebiri, respectively), there’s also quite a few updates to the origins of the Turtles that purists may find in poor taste. And speaking of poor taste, some of the jokes come off as just plain crude and/or cringe-worthy (watch for the “Puke Girl” scene – it’s even less funny than it sounds).

All in all, I suppose it wasn’t a total waste of time; as a modern action flick, it does come close in comparison with the latest animated Spider-Man films. But the next time I feel the need for some Ninja Turtles action, I’ll likely turn to one the now-classic entries in the series instead.

Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

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