Coming to theatres from writer/director Jeff Rowe based on a screenplay by Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Dan Hernandez, Benji Smart and Paramount Pictures is the animated TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: Mutant Mayhem.
Cynthia Utrom (Maya Rudolph) from Techno Cosmic Research Institute has decided that she is going to hunt down scientist Baxter Stockman (Giancarlo Esposito) who discovered a mutagen and has tried it on insects and animals. Discovering his whereabouts, Utrom calls out her strike team to capture him and get mutagen! Things don’t go to plan and mutagen has disappeared.
Years later, on a rooftop, Michealangelo (Shamon Brown, Jr.), Leonardo (Nicolas Cantu), Raphael (Brady Noon) and Donatello (Micah Abbey) are four turtle brothers who have been raised by Splinter (Jackie Chan), their rat father. All of them were covered in the green ooze of Stockman’s mutagen. Splinter has raised the boys to understand that humans are not friends and would never accept them for who they are.
Training the turtles in ninjutsu, Splinter feels he has given his boys a way to, if needs be, protect themselves. In the meantime, the turtles just want to go to school and attend prom like ‘regular’ kids do after seeing life on their phones and computers. They do get the chance to get out though when doing a supply run. On one such occasion, a crime being committed against human April (Ayo Edebiri), gives the boys a chance to actually talk to a human!
They discover that April goes to school, is a writer and currently investigating a bunch of robberies happening in the city by someone called Superfly (Ice Cube). The turtles want to help thinking this is the way to show humans they aren’t anything to be afraid of.
Learning that Superfly is needing parts for a gadget he is creating, April and the boys agree to meet Superfly under the Brooklyn Bridge. What happens there is a lesson that Splinter and the boys aren’t the only mutants in the world – they are, however, the only mutants not wanting to destroy humanity. That seems to be what Superfly wants, the destruction of humanity being upset at what was done to Stockman years earlier.
Now, the turtles, April and a few surprising allies decide it’s time to take Superfly down because, after all, that’s what right minded turtles-in-a-half-shell and their friends do!
Noon, Brown, Jr., Cantu, Abbeyas the mutant four verbally play off one another in a way that is nothing short of graceful sparing. Their brotherly relationship had everything I’d expect from brothers who are all going through teens (and all THAT means) together. They might be wrestling up a mess one minute but will protect each other at the drop of a mask.
Edebiri as April is also going through the growing pains of the teen years. Good at investigating, she puts aside those who don’t really accept her without teasing, and tries to find her way back into being just a regular teen. Chan as Splinter is so endearing and spends every waking moment making sure his boys are safe and, more importantly, happy. Such a lovely portrayal of a dad just wanting the best for his kids.
Ice Cube as Superfly was hilarious one moment and maniacal the next and extremely good at both. Wanting a bit of revenge for the way his adoptive father was treated, he has an idea that basically would wipe out the human race and the Ninja Turtles have a bit of a problem with that.
Other mutants include Hannibal Buress as Genghis Frog, Rose Byrne as Leatherhead, John Cena as Rocksteady, Natasia Demetriou as Wingnut, Post Malone as Ray Fillet, Seth Rogen as Bebop, and Paul Rudd as Mondo Gecko.
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TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: Mutant Mayhem is an animated film that is going to hit across generations. This is how my boys (now in their 40’s) saw the turtles and now it is their sons and daughters’ chance to see what held their imaginations as children.
Everything about the film is about a deep background storyline which is important if this is anyone’s first time discovering the Ninja Turtles or just needing a refresher course. The animation is absolutely wonderful, detailed, colorful and seamless adding a deeper level to the film. The casting is comedy at its best and having Paul Rudd as Mondo Gecko had me laughing almost out of my seat (think Rudd as Chuck in FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL except on a skateboard and, well, a mutant).
The comedy is insanely funny! Seeing this with my family, we all couldn’t stop laughing and cheering. We were not the only ones as the audience became just as invested as we were. Watching the ‘teenage’ part of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, these boys want to be accepted for who they are. That’s why their relationship with April works so well – they relate to one another, physiology aside.
I have to say that the interactions between characters is pretty funny as Ice Cube’s Superfly accepts the boys with his witticisms and more information about how they all came to be. Chan’s Splinter is just so dang adorable as a father who sees his children pulling away and wanting to do everything possible to turn their frowns upside down is stellar.
The animation more than works for the film, in fact, I think it gives it that something special and rare, a more 3-D kind of look without the headache of 3-D. Some animation can feel very flat, taking away from the film, but not this rendition of TMNT. This time around it felt like we were all experiencing something quite unique.
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: Mutant Mayhem was meant to be as fun as it absolutely was. Hey, I’m 62 and remember my boys calling for me to come watch the television show with them and this time, I took my grandkid who has always loved the Ninja Turtles. That’s three generations who are all about the green, awesome masks and wanting to fight injustices!
In the end – heroes aren’t born, they’re mutated!