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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgas..., Common Sense Media
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III Movie Poster Image
Heroes travel to ancient Japan; some mild peril.
  • PG
  • 1993
  • 96 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Meant to entertain rather than educate.

Positive Messages

"Fighting's for grownups and only if you got no othuh choice."

Positive Role Models & Representations

The four turtles are brave and wise-cracking in the face of adversity and stick together to help others.

Violence & Scariness

Fights are frequent but staged to milk maximum comic effect. One-liners go flying along with punches and swords. A turtle runs into a burning building to save a small boy. A man falls off a high turret into the ocean, presumably dying on impact. A bad guy orders henchmen to shoot the turtles.

Sexy Stuff
Language

"Sleazeball," "fatso," "heck," "scum," and "butt."

Consumerism

In its heyday, this franchise generated toys, video games, comic books, and lots of other merchandise, in addition to movies and TV shows. A new movie is reportedly in the works.

 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

An adult smokes a cigar.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that while the 1993 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III has lots of clownish violence, the emphasis here is on humor and the silliness of the oddball superheroes, who like to joke around at the most serious and hazardous moments. Unlike the more sexualized and risqué 2014 reboot, this will be appropriate for younger kids, but they may worry at moments of peril, as when bad guys point guns at the plucky four. A man falls off a high turret into the ocean, presumably dying on impact. But generally the upbeat vibe assures viewers that nothing truly bad is going to happen to any of the good guys. Language includes "sleazeball" and "butt."

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What's the story?

In the sewer under New York City's subway, Michelangelo (David Fraser), Donatello (Jim Raposa), Raphael (Matt Hill), and Leonardo (Mark Caro), all named after Italian renaissance painters, groove to dance beats in between excellent adventures that allow the turtles to show off their ninja fighting skills in the defense of goodness and righteousness. It's TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES III, superheroes with shells on their backs. This time, their pal April (Paige Turco) turns up with a thrift store scepter that is actually a 17th century time machine. April lands in feudal Japan in the midst of a turf war, and the son of the reigning Lord Norinaga (Sab Shimono) shows up in April's place, carrying his own magic scepter. The turtles leap into action, heading into the past to rescue April and become enmeshed in a political war for power. It's a great excuse for lots of Three Stooges-type comic fighting, kick-boxing, punching, and sword hurling.

Is it any good?

They're turtles, they're teenage, they're mutant, and, uh, ninjas, and that's pretty much -- no more and no less -- what you get in this movie. This plot is unimpeded by backstory, so if you don't know where these guys come from, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III won't enlighten you, and that tells you exactly how little you need to know about anything to watch this. The sole purpose of what stands in for plot here is to create a long string on which to hang fight scenes that allow the animatronic puppets/actors to dance, kick-box, punch, and toss one-liners so fast that there's no time to linger on the quality.

This light-hearted foursome joke about everything. Even when the lines aren't truly funny, the pace gives the impression that what's happening must be funny, or at least engaging, and before you know it, 96 minutes have passed. Note that given the peak of TMNT's popularity was the late 1980s and early 1990s, the slang is a bit 20th century. "Dudes" have timing that is "most excellent," a la Wayne's World and Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what's so appealing about the four mutant turtles. Do you think they're likable because they’re heroes or because they're funny?

  • Do you play the TMNT video games or read the comics? Do the characters seem different in the different media?

  • Have you seen the previous movies in the series? How does Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III compare?

Movie details

For kids who love comedy

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