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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Fighting solves all problems here, of course.
Positive Role Models
While the hot-headed Raphael has problems with discipline and anger management, he's still principled, heroic, and brave. Splinter the Rat is an especially wise mentor-figure, more so than many human counterparts.
Violence & Scariness
Abundant martial arts fighting that's sometime comical and slapstick (usually when it's Turtle-vs.-villains), sometimes bone-crunching and brutal (when its human-on-human). Two dead bodies seen as the result of barely offscreen karate killings. Human characters threatened with baseball bats, swords, and clubs. One character crushed in a trash compactor. Heroes knocked out and comatose, but no blood.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A brief glimpse of underaged girls in sexy streetwear.
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"Damn" is as bad as it gets.
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Products & Purchases
Plugs for Domino's pizza, other movies, and TV shows (how many young viewers will get the reference to Moonlighting, though?). Of course, the Ninja Turtles were an industry in themselves, with toys, games, comics, T-shirts, practically everything that could and was sold to kids.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Recreational drinking and smoking in a lawless kids' club.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie is a 1990 mainly martial arts slapstick comedy. The Foot Clan is a Hollywood glorification of a street gang, with a secret headquarters filled with adolescent attractions like skateboarding, games, music, girls, recreational drinking, cigarettes, and fellowship. Abundant martial arts fighting that's sometime comical and slapstick (usually when it's Turtle-vs.-villains), sometimes bone-crunching and brutal (when its human-on-human). Two dead bodies seen as the result of barely offscreen karate killings. Human characters threatened with baseball bats, swords, and clubs. One character crushed in a trash compactor. Heroes knocked out and comatose, but no blood. There's a brief glimpse of underaged girls in sexy streetwear. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This dated movie is best for diehard TMNT fans only. It was inevitable a live-action Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie would be made, with actors in suits. The abundant martial arts violence caused some controversy at the time (in Britain this "family film" was actually censored from children), and in the era before Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, critics pretty much condemned all kung-fu movies, from Bruce Lee to Jackie Chan, as R-rated bloodbaths. Just the idea of a kids' karate film raised doubts (though the Karate Kid movies were allowed to get away with it, go figure). Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movies made the fighting reptiles more comical and slapstick action-heroes, tossing off wisecracks and never drawing blood despite their swords and daggers. However, an aura of menace and brutality settles over the film when it's human against human, especially the wolf-packs of boys vs. April and Casey Jones.
There's something of Pleasure Island in Pinocchio about the way the movie makes the street-gang lifestyle of the Foot Clan seem appealing; a cool secret headquarters filled with skateboarding, video games, music, girls, cigarettes, and brotherhood. Even though it's supposed to be a big lie, the impression is still like a recruiting poster. Splinter the Rat, on the other hand is by far the most noble character here. He's really such a Yoda-like standout paragon of wisdom and kindness you wish the movie were more about him. Rats never had such good PR. Love them, hate them, the Mutant Ninja Turtles opened the floodgates for kid-friendly martial arts flicks in the English-speaking world, and the subsequent Three Ninjas series was pretty much Turtle schtick with teenage non-mutant ninja humans. Imagine that.
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