Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)

Our review of what was once the highest-grossing independent movie of all time…before Blair Witch Project dethroned it. Is it an overrated piece of my own childhood nostalgia…or the best martial arts/action/comedy starring four walking, talking turtles, their rat sensei, and a whole lot of human beings ever made? Or is the truth more nuanced and complicated than anyone’s willing to admit? I’ll admit something: due to the internet’s current demographics, this film – and its sequels – are some of the most over-reviewed films of all time…at least in cyberspace. I can only add my own perspective and hope that will be enough.


4 thoughts on “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)”

  1. If I recall correctly, the VHS of this movie had that ad for Little League + Pizza Hut with the song “Off In the Distance”. We rediscovered this in college.

    Anyway, unrelated, have you still not reviewed Audition? I’m mostly not willing to sit through it again in order to more clearly define it for people, but I would love to read your review on it. (Fun story: when watching this with my sister, my mother came home and wandered into the living room to ask what we were watching almost exactly when the chick started happily sawing off his foot. My mother then did not believe us that the majority of the movie was not like that.)

    1. Looking at it now, I haven’t reviewed Tremors either, which is a glaring, obvious oversight on my part. Both are on the Great and Secret List of films I want to talk about in the future and, rest assured, both are coming…though one’s probably coming sooner than the other.

  2. If I may crib from DC comics (here? NOooo), I’d like to say the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is the Earth-1 counterparts to the Earth-3 Transformers movies. They have more or less much of the same elements going for it–too many human characters, focus on problems irrelevant to the larger cartoon conflicts between Good and Evil, and an annoying tacked-on romance. However, weirdly, all of the elements which annoy me in Transformers are charmingly endearing here.

    Casey Jones really doesn’t need to exist in this movie except as April’s Love Interest and as a foil to Raphael but dammit, he’s just so damned cool that he turned a character no one cared about in the cartoon to someone you considered an essential part of the mythos (whether he was or not to begin with). I don’t remember Annoying Kid’s name but I liked his character arc too because it provided us an inside look into how the quote-unquote “realistic” Foot Clan worked.

    So dammit, I agree. I love this movie and enjoyed this review even if the review mostly consisted of, “Man, Turtles was great in spite of all the shit which could have gone wrong.”

    1. “…and all the shit that would go wrong in the future.”

      You raise an interesting point and make an interesting analogy. I think it’s a question of composition: TMNT still manages to actually focus on the dynamics of its titular characters and their interactions with each other before foisting us off on the designated Audience Identification Character…as opposed to foisting us off on said character first, deliberately burying its own lead under mounds of shit.

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