“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem” is directed by Jeff Rowe and co-directed by Kyler Spears. It features the voices of Jackie Chan, Micah Abbey, Shamon Brown Jr, Nicolar Cantu, Brady Noon, Ayo Edibiri, Rose Byrne, John Cena and Ice Cube. It follows the brothers of the popular teenage turtle brothers as they yearn to be accepted in the human world. To do so, they decide to do a heroic act in hopes that they can be seen as heroes.
I grew up watching the animated show but vaguely remember specific storylines. Most of my knowledge comes from pop culture references such as their love for pizza, the origin of their names and the iconic phrase “cowabunga.”
I haven’t seen any of the previous movies, so this entry is my introduction to their cinematic treatment. I’ve noticed the Rotten Tomatoes scores for the previous films aren’t the best, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. However, the trailer looked promising and piqued my interest to give the movie a chance.
This movie may be the surprise of this summer! This film comes in at 97 minutes, making it perfectly paced and concise. The animation is remarkable. It’s filled with a hand-drawn style of animation, but also showcases dark tones that illustrate gritty and dangerous locations. It’s inevitable to compare it to “Spider-Man: Across the SpiderVerse,” which was just released a few months ago, but this film manages to stand alone. It feels unique.
The writing and voice acting contribute to the entertaining and hilarious aspects. It’s been a while since I’ve laughed this much in a movie, and a lot is thanks to the voice acting and chemistry between the brothers. The decision to have teenagers voice the siblings pays off. Their charisma is believable, and their back-and-forth banter aids in the comedy.
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The jokes land, thanks to its edgy writing and constant pop culture references. As a cinephile, the connections to certain movies, actors, characters and scenes had me smiling and recreating that Leonardo DiCaprio meme (where he’s sitting in a chair and pointing to the TV ) over and over again.
The story isn’t groundbreaking but it’s strongly executed. We see flashbacks to the origin of the brothers and how they came to meet Splinter (the rat who raises them). On its foundation, the story is about fatherhood, acceptance, and being true to who you are. I was moved by Splinter’s relationship with the Turtles.
Since they’re teenagers anxious to explore the world and connect with humans, Splinter’s overprotective instincts are on full display. We also learn a bit about Splinter and his origins, including the reason why he prohibits the brothers from interacting with the human world.
When the brothers form a friendship with April, a teenager who’s an outcast herself, all of their lives are impacted. The Turtles learn a little more about the human world while April believes to have found the perfect story for her to write. They all bond over their obsession to be accepted: The Turtles seek acceptance from humans while April hopes to move past an embarrassing situation and be accepted by her high school peers. Their dynamic worked wonderfully.
In addition to the remarkable animation, stellar voice performances, and heartfelt and hilarious storyline, the final slice of this delicious and enjoyable pizza is the incredible soundtrack. It’s one of my favorite soundtracks of the year, and I’m certain I’ll have it on replay.
Overall, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem” is a heartfelt, fun, hilarious and great time. Without question, one of the best animated films of the year.