Seth Rogan does Seth Rogen things to the four heroes in a half shell, with a new outlook at our beloved Ninja Turtles. A coming-of-age story that looks at how everyone has a place in the world and it’s still hard as hell to be a teenager.
The film follows the Turtle brothers as they work to earn the love of New York City while facing down an army of mutants.
I’ve loved TMNT my entire life. It’s one of the very first movies I remember watching, and one of the first video games I remember playing. These four brothers hold a special place in my heart. It feels like at all times in my life some sort of iteration of these characters has been in my life. Whether its been from a movie, cartoon show or a video game, they always seem to be part of the pop culture conversation. Now imagine someone like Seth Rogan taking the reigns and having a fun time writing and producing a beautifully animated TMNT movie. Basically take the kids from Superbad, tone down the humor to make it appropriate and make them teenage mutant ninja turtles and that’s exactly what we got here, a home run.
We’ve gotten plenty of TMNT movies in my lifetime, but one aspect of the movies that always lacked was the “teenager” part of the story. This is where this movie shines, for the first time maybe ever, the turtles actually felt like kids. Teenagers trying to find their place in the world, all different, all unique, all while trying to balance the life of being a mutant turtle but also just trying to be a regular teenager. So when Leo, Donnie, Raph and Mikey finally get their first actual exposure to the outside world in the from of April O’Neil, they realize that they are ready to integrate into society. Held back by their close in of a father (Master Splinter), they have longed for a regular life and just want to go to high school. Whether it’s trying to find a girlfriend, maybe join the improv team or be apart of school sports, these turtles just want to be normal for once. Yes they still love pizza and marital arts, but the a funny and new twist of these turtles is how they learn about the outside world. Much like kids today, it’s all through technology, learning new ninja skills through YouTube, or listening to Beyoncé and Drake, the turtles feel more human than they ever have. It gives them all such different and hilarious personalities, the voice work for each turtle is incredible. They did a smart thing and had all four kids do the voice work together, so they could act off one another and react to lines and improvise. It makes the movie feel more fluid and not just basically line reading.
The cast of voice actors in insane, Seth Rogen brought all of his friends, it’s a list longer than Donnie’s bo staff. Stand outs for me were Paul Rudd (Mondo Gecko), Ice Cube (Superfly) Micah Abbey (Donnie) and Shamon Brown Jr (Mikey). Ice Cube plays the movies villain Superfly, and for a kids animated movie, he was actually kind of scary. The film does a great job at balancing between tones and shifts from being fun and dumb to serious and heartfelt really well. The biggest star of the movie is the animation. Much like the Spider-Verse movie this separates itself from other animated movies released this year simply because of its sleek and unique animation style. They are setting the tone for the future of animation and what we can expect for years to come.
It’s laugh out loud funny, I found myself wishing I saw this in a busier theatre because that always helps elevate a movie especially when it comes to laughter, I was laughing every couple minutes it felt like. From all the references, the brothers acting like dumbasses, and all the gross and hilarious mutants, Mutant Mayhem is just a fun time at the movies. You don’t need to be a fan of TMNT to enjoy this movie, simply because of how down to earth it is. They are speaking our language, talking about things that most people know about and the jokes work on every level. The turtles themselves are super cute and you legit just want to be friends with them.
Sets up for one heck of a sequel and I can’t wait.
TMNT: Mutant Mayhem = 87/100