Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie Poster Image
Reboot offers impressive action, distracting innuendo.
  • PG-13
  • 2014
  • 101 minutes
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 15 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 48 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Teamwork and brotherhood are paramount to the story of the Turtles, who love and protect one another even though they don't always agree and occasionally fight.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Master Splinter is a wonderful father figure to the four Turtles, and he'll do anything to protect and defend his "sons." The four Ninja Turtles are young and occasionally misguided, but they also want to be brave, help one another, and defend the city against Shredder.

Violence

There's a flashback to a fire that kills a scientist and nearly kills the Turtles and Splinter. The battles between Shredder and his goons and the Turtles and Splinter leave people injured and possibly unconscious but not necessarily dead. Explosions, etc. Three of the Turtles are tortured and bleed out until rescue arrives. A few scenes make it seem like the Turtles, April, or her friend Vern will be killed. A deadly toxin is nearly released into the city. The Foot clan is much more militant and evil looking than the ninja assassin/robot creatures they were in earlier versions.

Sex

Although there's no sexual contact in the movie, April's character is frequently ogled and sexualized. Michelangelo says she's so hot that his shell is tightening, an obvious reference to arousal, and he continues to reference his "dibs" on her and how she's a "hot chick," etc. Vern can't help but flirt and come on to her, and he even spends time staring at her butt during a life-and-death situation. Michelangelo and Raphael climb a huge Victoria’s Secret billboard; to avoid being seen, they attach themselves to the billboard right over the model’s bra and kind of hang on, one turtle on each breast -- they giggle at each other.

Language

Insults like "idiot," "jackass," "stupid," "shut up," etc.

Consumerism

Featured brands include Skype, YouTube, Pizza Hut, Orange Crush, Victoria’s Secret, Dunkin' Donuts, Toshiba, and Ford. There's also a huge Nickelodeon merchandise campaign to tie in the Turtles with toys, video games, home decor, apparel, and books. Celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak is also featured early in the film.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults are briefly shown drinking at a dinner gala.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is an edgier live-action take on the legendary talking reptiles who emerge from the New York sewers to defend the city. The sometimes-explosive violence includes a lot of martial arts fighting, a flashback to a devastating fire, Turtles being tortured, and near deaths; in other words, it's too intense for younger fans of Turtle toys/merchandise, though it should be OK for tweens and up. And while this Michael Bay/Nickelodeon co-production doesn't have a lot of strong language (just insults like "stupid" and "idiot"), there are several references to April O'Neil's (Megan Fox) sexy body (she's called a "hot chick," one Turtle jokes that his "shell is tightening" around her, and her butt is stared at leeringly). The Turtles care about teamwork and brotherhood, and they work hard to defend the city against Shredder.

User Reviews

Adult Written bymidwestvalues August 8, 2014

Better than expected and some good messages

We went back and forth, do we take our 5 year old or not take him? There was not enough info online to validate, so we opted to go with the other kids and pare... Continue reading
Parent of a 8 year old Written bybluemanta August 17, 2014

Fun, Funny and Entertaining

Overall the movie is packed with comics action and jokes. Some kids might get overwhelmed with the speed of the movie but my son was laughing out loud big part... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old August 11, 2014

Amazing!

The movie is pretty great, but it's not for little kids. It's got a lot of violence, including guns. The turtles use language like 'ass',... Continue reading
Kid, 7 years old August 8, 2014

i am 7 years old and it was super scary and super good

really creepy a lot of blood,weapons,swear words and rude turtles. watch out . the movie is so good . about as scary as Indiana jones or even scarier .

What's the story?

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES -- yet another incarnation of the legendary sewer-dwelling, pizza-loving reptiles -- takes place in New York City, where a crime wave is unleashed by the evil Shredder (Tohoru Masamune) and his gang of goons, the Foot Clan. Investigating a mysterious vigilante standing up to the Foot Clan, TV reporter April O'Neil (Megan Fox) runs in to not one crime fighter but four: masked talking turtles named Leonardo (performed by Pete Ploszek, voiced by Johnny Knoxville), Michelangelo (Noel Fisher), Donatello (Jeremy Howard), and Raphael (Alan Ritchson). At first, they make her faint, but later they remind her of an old lab experiment conducted by her dead father and Eric Sachs (William Fichtner), a well-known scientist in the city. As April connects the dots, she agrees to help the Turtles (and break a story about the underground heroes), but they all fall prey to Shredder's master plan to control the city. The only way to save New York is to work together.

Is it any good?

Tweens and teens are likely to enjoy this fun live-action reboot. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles combines producer Bay's signature explosive thrills and obsession with Fox's body with the impressively realistic Turtles, thanks to Industrial Light & Magic's performance-capture technology (similar to WETA's technology for Rise of the Planet of the Apes). Younger viewers are unlikely to quibble or care about the various ridiculous plot points or unintentionally funny one-liners -- or the many ways that April is reduced from an all-around awesome character to the object of lust for both the Turtles (specifically Mikey) and her trusted cameraman Vern (Will Arnett).

But adults may wonder what the point is of rebooting the franchise for a younger generation when the animated series is still popular on television and the movie focuses so much more on Fox's hot bod than the funny and sweet relationship between the four Renaissance-named brothers. Sure, there's just enough about the Turtles to get that Mikey's the one who's got a crush on April and Donnie's the smart one who can hack or fix or engineer any piece of electronics, but there's no real soul in this installment. Still, the action scenes are cool enough, and the Turtles' movements are fun to watch. And maybe that's enough. But a "totally tubular" reboot this isn't, and it's sad how much of it relies on April being a babe.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the popularity of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series. Do you think you have to watch the show or be familiar with the comics to fully appreciate the movie? What are some comparisons?

  • Who's the movie's intended audience? Is it today's kids (and, if so, what age group?) or grown-ups who were kids when the toys were first popular in the '80s?

  • Why are April's body and attractiveness mentioned so frequently? Is it funny or unnecessary? Is April more than her looks?

  • If you aren't familiar with the TV show or the comics, does the movie make you want to check them out?

  • How do the characters in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles demonstrate teamwork? Why is this an important character strength?

Movie details

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