Four friendly mutant turtles live in the sewers and try to play heroes in order to be accepted by the residents of New York.
We love Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles since childhood. Figurines, films, animated series, video games, comics.
However, with the exception of the surprising Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT): The Movie on Netflix and the excellent game TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge from Quebec studio Tribute Games, we have lost sight of Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo and Raphael since their late teens.
These hold a special place in our hearts, however, and the release of TMNT: Mutant Mayhem was a nice excuse to return to the New York sewers.
Far be it from us to deprive children of good entertainment, but the film by Jeff Rowe and Kyler Spears (The Mitchells vs. the Machines) is more aimed at teenagers. After all, ninjutsu-loving mutant reptiles are 15 years old.
Also, in addition to Jeff Rowe, the screenwriters are the tandems of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (Superbad, Sausage Party) then Dan Hernandez and Benji Samit (Detective Pikachu, The Addams Family 2); authors whose works are not entirely family-based. Mutant Mayhem isn’t vulgar or tacky, but quite violent and full of popular culture references that might escape those under 10.
The drawing style, which we love, is also more “mature”. Rather than the bright colors, clean images and defined lines of the majority of animated films, the palette is darker and the style textured and saturated. You could compare it to the scribblings of a teenager in a notebook.
The themes of affirmation, adherence and transition to adulthood should also resonate more with older people.
The music – 1990s rap from A Tribe Called Quest, M.O.P. and Ol’Dirty Bastard, among others – pleases the even older ones.
All audiences – adults included – should be charmed by the dynamic between the four brothers. They are funny, clumsy, mocking, mischievous and endearing. Nicolas Cantu (Leonardo), Micah Abbey (Donatello), Shamon Brown Jr. (Michelangelo) and Brady Noon (Raphael) are all very convincing, as is Ayo Edebiri (The Bear, Clone High), who lends his voice to their human friend April O’Neil. They are supported by veterans such as Jackie Chan (Splinter), Paul Rudd (Mondo Gecko), Maya Rudolph (Cynthia Ultrom) and Ice Cube (Superfly).
These last two embody the two main antagonists of the ninjas. The first leads the Technocosmic Research Institute (TCRI), which attempts to create an army of mutants. The other is a giant fly that wants to turn all the animals on the planet into mutants in order to become the dominant species. That the brothers, who dream of coming out of the shadows without fear of being perceived as monsters, are momentarily intrigued by Superfly’s plan surprised us pleasantly.
Obviously, they choose to defend the humans. And they often fight to do so. The fights are spectacular, but end up being redundant. The final confrontation drags on while its happy ending is beyond doubt. Mutant Mayhem remains good entertainment for an audience that is rarely addressed.