Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie Poster Image

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

(i)

 

Reboot offers impressive action, distracting innuendo.
Parents recommendPopular with kids
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 101 minutes

What parents need to know

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

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.

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.

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?

QUALITY

Tweens and teens are likely to enjoy this fun live-action reboot. It 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.

Families can talk 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?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 8, 2014
DVD/Streaming release date:December 16, 2014
Cast:Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner
Director:Jonathan Liebesman
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Genre:Action/Adventure
Topics:Sports and martial arts, Superheroes, Misfits and underdogs
Character strengths:Teamwork
Run time:101 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:sci-fi action violence

This review of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Parent 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 parents going and we just talked it over with him before the movie...the reminder about movie vs. real life. He gets that. Great movie. I can't tell you the great message he got from the movie because it will give away a portion of the film, but it was positive. It has a value story of family and taking care of others. It totally surprised me. Action, yes, but there is so much happening and the action is quick-paced. No blood that I saw. Lots of humor for kids and adults. Cuss words: I heard bad**s once, but it was said softly. They say a*s once and it is obvious. Other words used once each are "hate" and "stupid". Overall, I was pleasantly surprised. Great storyline, but I am not a diehard TMNT fan, so I just wanted to be entertained. It succeeded.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
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 of the movie. The movie delivers the old good-vs-evil in a very humorous way ending with obvious winning by the good. I think some of the reviews here are too conservative but it really boils down to how your kid can handle action on the screen. Personally I don't think this is any different from Peter Pan's sword fighting which is shown to younger kids. The first question my son asked me when we came out of the movie was.."... this wasn't real wasn't it?..." and I was happy to discuss the special effects with him over pizza. My recommendation is take your kid and have great time....
What other families should know
Great messages
Parent of a 6 and 11 year old Written byMom-of-Two December 26, 2014

A few extra words than expected...

The commonsense review seemed to be right on except a few extra words. There was a "d**n it" at the beginning when April is filming the foot clan and a "kick our a**"from Ralph during/after a fight scene......... and it seemed like someone says "what the h***" at one point (can't remember if commonsense mentioned that one already). Also, the scene on the VS billboard is right after the credits start rolling... and truly does come across more humorous than I expected. Overall a great film and the whole family was laughing throughout. We especially loved the scene in the elevator!