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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows -- the sequel to 2014's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles -- finds the titular foursome back in action with their friend April to defeat the nefarious plans of Shredder, his Foot Clan, and a new supervillain. There's about as much explosive action violence (crashes, martial arts battles, and other hand-to-hand combat) as there was in the first movie. The language is amped up a little, with uses of "s--t" and "damn" as well as insults like "jackass," as is the bodily function humor (expect fart and booger gags). And while there a few suggestive jokes (in one scene, two men changed into humanoid animals check out their packages and high-five each other approvingly) and a sequence in which April wears a stereotypical "sexy schoolgirl" outfit, there's actually less innuendo here than in the original. Messages about teamwork and brotherhood are again present, and the Turtles work hard to defend the city.
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What's the story?
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS continues the story of brothers Leonardo (Pete Ploszek), Michelangelo (Noel Fisher), Donatello (Jeremy Howard), and Raphael (Alan Ritchson), who are still living in the sewers in the aftermath of Shredder's (Tohoru Masamune) imprisonment. The turtles allowed Vern (Will Arnett) to take all the credit for bringing Shredder down, so he's got a key to the city and is enjoying his local fame. But when Shredder and two other criminals are transported to a maximum-security prison, the Foot Clan intervenes, rescuing their nefarious leader with the help of genius physicist Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry), who teleports Shredder away. Shredder ends up meeting the humorously gruesome-looking supervillain Krang, who tasks Shredder with finding parts of a supermachine that would allow Krang and Shredder to rule the world. Meanwhile, corrections officer Casey Jones (Stephen Amell) teams up with April (Megan Fox) and the Turtles to help locate and defeat Shredder and his goons.
Is it any good?
Slightly better than the original but not enough so to really justify a full-blown franchise, at least this sequel is a small step in the right direction. Some of the distracting innuendo from the first film is gone, but there's still plenty of juvenile humor and an early focus on Fox's seductive figure (although at least that mostly ends after one sequence). Due to the addition of Shredder's cronies Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams) and Rocksteady (Stephen Farrelly) -- two dim-witted criminals who are turned into a humanoid warthog and rhinoceros -- there are fart, booger, and even penis jokes this time around, all to please audiences young and old who find that sort of scatological humor worth a laugh.
Arrow star Amell is another addition to the cast -- and in his case, a quite welcome one (and not just because he's such a heartthrob). He does a decent job portraying Jones, the athlete vigilante who uses hockey sticks and other sports equipment to gain leverage in battles against bigger and seemingly deadlier rivals. And, of course, he makes a potential love interest for April, although clearly the filmmakers are saving that development for the inevitable third installment in the franchise. If your family has Turtle fever, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is at least a bit better than the last one, but some purists will probably prefer to just watch the original TV show instead.
Talk to your kids about ...
Who are the role models in the movie? What do they do that makes them brave, courageous, selfless, etc.?
Is April more than her looks? How does the scene of her in the schoolgirl outfit play into gender stereotypes? How can media affect kids' body image?
For those familiar with TMNT, how does the new storyline and its characters compare to the source material? Do you need to be a fan of the whole Turtles franchise (comics, shows, games, etc.) to enjoy the movies?
- In theaters: June 3, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: September 20, 2016
- Cast: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, Stephen Amell
- Director: Dave Green
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Superheroes
- Character strengths: Teamwork
- Run time: 112 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sci-fi action violence
- Last updated: January 8, 2021
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