TV Party Tonight! #137

TV Party Tonight! #137

Saturday, 16 December 2023

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:
Mutant Mayhem

I used to be obsessed with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as a kid. Probably to an unhealthy degree. I remember picking up the Shell Shocked VHS (or was it Beta?) from the video rental place when I was a kid, and being completely mesmerized. Of course, I became a fan of the franchise ever since. I watched the TV show in English and Spanish. I collected the toys and I still remember the first one that my parents bought me at Toys ‘R’ Us (the Wacky Raphael), and which one was my favorite (Movie Star Michaelangelo). I had dozens and played with them every day, making up new adventures for them. I read the TMNT Archie comics. I had a pet turtle that I named Michaelangelo. I was IN IT, dude.

Then one day, something just clicked. I was ready to move on and I gave away my turtles.

After being so intimately involved with something for so long, it’s impossible not to check in on it. I did so over the years, and even though I was just casually interested, nothing really hooked me. Certainly not the Michael Bay movies, which looked terrible and probably are terrible in every way. Like everything he does.

But, Mutant Mayhem looked different from the get-go. It certainly looked cool, and maybe Seth Rogan knows what he’s doing? I went in very reluctantly and watched part of the movie on a plane ride home with my son, and felt I had seen enough to dive in more deeply. Having seen the movie now, I have to say, I have a giant smile on my face.

Mutant Mayhem is the TMNT but with an origin story that’s slightly different than what us 90s kids are used to. For one thing, they had to modernize it, which is fine, so the turtles have cell phones and people are posting videos on YouTube or whatever. But also, it’s kind of an original story, with a reinvention of the characters from the TV show. Splinter is still the patriarch, but a little less of the sage character he was in the TV show, Leonardo is still the leader, Raphael the hot head, Donatello the nerd, and Michaelangelo the easy going party dude. But the one-off mutants that were introduced on a regular basis play a more prominent role. One’s not quite sure who the villain is, the TCRI head lady, or Baxter Stockman. Certainly things get complicated and the story escalate in a way that is actually interesting kind of make sense. Two thumbs up there.

Of course, Mutant Mayhem also looks great. It’s got a sketchbook, slightly rough unpolished style (which I’m sure took a whole lot of digital polishing to achieve) but helps give this movie an original look and always keeps the things on screen compelling to look at. It’s just crazy how something can look so off but is still interpreted the right way in our brains. And the character designs are slightly unsafe and fresh, in a good way. It’s also god a great old school hip hop soundtrack.

Mutant Mayhem is a movie made by adult fans for kids. It checks a whole lot of boxes of what fans would like, is dynamic and full of energy. It’s a world I love exploring and would love to revisit in the future. I’ve got a single joyful tear coming down my face. Well done, you guys. I’m ready for more!

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