In my adult mind the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie has always been a a cheese fest with a shallow plot, questionable costumes, and a lot of pandering to children. As a child I remember loving it, so I think the grown up inside didn’t want to expect too much so made it out to be a bad movie. Strangely I was surprised watching this movie.
There was pandering to children. Using slang words of the the time to mimic the characters from the cartoon show, but as an adult instead of being turned off by this It actually drug me into being a 10 year old kid and I found myself kind of smiling at the ridiculousness of these characters. What I found was that these “Turtles” were indeed characters and not just icons. The movie did not push the title characters to the background to focus on “human nature” like modern “cartoon” movies like Transformers tend to do. This movie actually reminded me of the other part of the title of the movie “teenage,” which is a part of the title that is often forgotten about.
These Turtles were very much teenagers which I think was great, they went through teenage angst and dealt with some of the feelings teenagers go through. Now, this is to a lesser extent than someone might expect in some movies but it is there and I think that is something that makes the movie great. We have four odd characters that are allowed to be characters. we are allowed to see this journey, or change that they experience. In a way this is a coming of age movie and it works really well in that mindset.
We get a lot of really well written lines for the “good guys” we have characters that are alive and vibrant from April and Casey to Splinter. On the other spectrum I feel that the “Bad guys” were card board and stagnant, they were bad for the sake of being bad, and in a way that is what they were supposed to be, all of the foot clan were criminals because being a criminal was cool.
I think there is one component of the movie that still works for me all of these years later and allows the movie to really stand up 21 years later. The Turtle costumes were fantastic. They, even now, suspend my disbelief. Thinking about when this was made, I am amazed at the the quality of these costumes. Now days they would just computer animate these guys. I am so glad we have these really well built costumes though, it adds something real to the experience.
Now that Nickelodeon has the rights to the franchise there is talk of yet another cartoon series and a new movie and of course with that comes a new toy line, but there is something great about the fact that I can settle back to this movie 21 years after it was made and still enjoy it. A lot of the movies from my childhood are hard to watch and I easily find flaws with them, but as I watched The original Turtle movie, I couldn’t find a flaw. I laughed at all the prompts and more importantly I was a kid again. For 93 minutes I went back in time while I enjoyed a movie I loved as a kid, not becuase it pandered to the kid inside me but because it was actually a good movie.