FILM REVIEW — Teenage Turtles finally get a movie worthy of their comic

Published 12:10 am Friday, August 4, 2023

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“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem”

Paramount Pictures

Directed by Jeff Rowe

Starring Micah Abbey, Shamon Brown Jr., Brady Noon, Nicolas Cantu, Jackie Chan, Ice Cube and Ayo Edebiri

Rated PG

3 Stars

There have been six previous “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” movies.

Most of these films have performed very well at the box office, but I don’t think you’ll find many fans who would say that any of the movies truly captured the magic found in the original comic books.

Which is why I’m thrilled to report that movie number seven comes pretty close to finally bringing these beloved characters to life. The filmmakers do this by downplaying the pizza and the slang and even the ninja fighting sequences, focusing instead on the teenagers at the heart of this story.

It’s a winning strategy that gives us a movie with a lot of humor, plenty of action, and dare I say it, some genuine emotional moments.

Of course, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem” is still a comic book origin story, and so we meet the four young turtles that were covered in a strange ooze that turned them into sentient turtle mutant creatures.

The turtle brothers have grown up in their hidden home in the sewers home, but they long to get out and see the world.

They sense an opportunity when another mutant (Ice Cube) decides that humanity must be eliminated in order to make the world safe for mutants.

Our heroes on a half-shell decide to stop him, and thus change their image from icky sewer-dwelling mutants to cool heroes that saved the world.

The film leans hard into this story of outsiders who just want to fit in with their peers, which gives the story some surprising emotional heft. They also double down on the fact our heroes are a quartet of brothers.

They wrestle and tease and behave just like a bunch of 15-year-old boys. Anybody who grew up with brothers will understand the vibe.

Some of this is the writing, but also credit the wisdom of casting actual teenagers for these roles (Micah Abbey, Shamon Brown Jr., Nicolas Cantu and Brady Noon).

The young cast also puts a ton of energy into the film’s humorous moments — to hit-and-miss effect.

As is the case with a lot of young boys, some of their energetic banter isn’t nuanced enough to fully deliver the laughs, but there are plenty of fun quips that keep the tone light and amusing.

I was also impressed by the animation, which has an unpolished feel to it. Sure, it’s computer generated, but it feels much closer to something that’s been hand-drawn, reminding us that this is first and foremost a comic book movie.

All of which adds up to a film that should please diehard fans of the comics as well as general audiences who are simply looking for a fun night out at the movies.

Finally, “The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and their fans get a movie that lives up to the magic of the beloved comic.

Movie reviews by Sean McBride, “The Movie Guy,” are published each week by Orange Newsmedia and seen weekly on KFDM and Fox4. Sean welcomes your comments via email at