Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

August 2, 2023 at 4:37 p.m.
This is the publicity poster for the movie "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem.” The OSV News classification is A-II – adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG-13 – parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. (OSV News photo/Paramount)
This is the publicity poster for the movie "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem.” The OSV News classification is A-II – adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG-13 – parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. (OSV News photo/Paramount) (Handout)

By KURT JENSEN
Osv News

NEW YORK OSV News – In rebooting a decades–old franchise with "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem" (Paramount), director and co–writer Jeff Rowe has the titular testudines take a meditative turn. What should they make of humanity, they wonder. And what does the future hold for them?

The familiar quartet of anthropomorphized, masked, sewer–dwelling reptiles, each named for a master artist of the Italian Renaissance, surfaces in this CGI animation, their seventh big–screen outing, with all their trademark characteristics intact. Said traits include gravity–defying ninja skills as well as a weakness for pizza and Doritos.

Now 15 years old, they've been told all their lives by their adoptive father and mentor, a giant rat named Splinter (voice of Jackie Chan), that when it comes to humans, "to interact with them is to die." Yet they've begun to have regrets about their isolated, seemingly anti–social lifestyle.

People, after all, always look like they're having so much fun, and the turtles' longing to interact is primal. Thus at one point, Leonardo (voice of Nicolas Cantu) expresses his sense of confinement by way of an existential put–down.

"I can't live a happy life," he observes to one of his companions, Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael (voices of Shamon Brown Jr., Micah Abbey and Brady Noon) – though to which specifically is not made clear – "knowing that your face will be the last thing I see before I die." Ouch.

Even older kids may not know what to make of that. But they'll likely appreciate the knockabout Adventure to which most of the running time is devoted.

As scripted by Rowe in collaboration with Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Benji Samit and Dan Hernandez, moreover, the movie contains little to make parents uncomfortable, a touch of seemingly requisite gross–out humor aside. But the proceedings are too tumultuous for small fry

The solution to the foursome's plight turns out to lie in befriending April (voice of Ayo Edeberi), a high schooler and budding journalist who wants to write about them. She's out to gain fame but also, presumably, to portray the turtles in a positive light as likable and potentially popular.

Their journey of self–discovery is interrupted, however, by the arrival of villains, particularly Superfly (voice of Ice Cube). This outsized insect and his evil cohorts have a scheme for – what else? – world domination.

The mayhem promised by the subtitle ensues, consisting of high–speed chases, encounters with humans who, just as Splinter predicted, want to kill the interlopers, rapid–fire cultural references that never seem to land and a lot of manic martial arts. Still, amid the chaos, the screenplay encourages respect for education, social interaction and the wisdom of older characters.

The film contains intense action sequences, a restrained scene of torture, a couple of mild oaths and vomiting played for laughs. The OSV News classification is A–II – adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG – parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

 Kurt Jensen is a guest reviewer for OSV News.


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NEW YORK OSV News – In rebooting a decades–old franchise with "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem" (Paramount), director and co–writer Jeff Rowe has the titular testudines take a meditative turn. What should they make of humanity, they wonder. And what does the future hold for them?

The familiar quartet of anthropomorphized, masked, sewer–dwelling reptiles, each named for a master artist of the Italian Renaissance, surfaces in this CGI animation, their seventh big–screen outing, with all their trademark characteristics intact. Said traits include gravity–defying ninja skills as well as a weakness for pizza and Doritos.

Now 15 years old, they've been told all their lives by their adoptive father and mentor, a giant rat named Splinter (voice of Jackie Chan), that when it comes to humans, "to interact with them is to die." Yet they've begun to have regrets about their isolated, seemingly anti–social lifestyle.

People, after all, always look like they're having so much fun, and the turtles' longing to interact is primal. Thus at one point, Leonardo (voice of Nicolas Cantu) expresses his sense of confinement by way of an existential put–down.

"I can't live a happy life," he observes to one of his companions, Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael (voices of Shamon Brown Jr., Micah Abbey and Brady Noon) – though to which specifically is not made clear – "knowing that your face will be the last thing I see before I die." Ouch.

Even older kids may not know what to make of that. But they'll likely appreciate the knockabout Adventure to which most of the running time is devoted.

As scripted by Rowe in collaboration with Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Benji Samit and Dan Hernandez, moreover, the movie contains little to make parents uncomfortable, a touch of seemingly requisite gross–out humor aside. But the proceedings are too tumultuous for small fry

The solution to the foursome's plight turns out to lie in befriending April (voice of Ayo Edeberi), a high schooler and budding journalist who wants to write about them. She's out to gain fame but also, presumably, to portray the turtles in a positive light as likable and potentially popular.

Their journey of self–discovery is interrupted, however, by the arrival of villains, particularly Superfly (voice of Ice Cube). This outsized insect and his evil cohorts have a scheme for – what else? – world domination.

The mayhem promised by the subtitle ensues, consisting of high–speed chases, encounters with humans who, just as Splinter predicted, want to kill the interlopers, rapid–fire cultural references that never seem to land and a lot of manic martial arts. Still, amid the chaos, the screenplay encourages respect for education, social interaction and the wisdom of older characters.

The film contains intense action sequences, a restrained scene of torture, a couple of mild oaths and vomiting played for laughs. The OSV News classification is A–II – adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG – parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

 Kurt Jensen is a guest reviewer for OSV News.

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