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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a CGI remake of two previous animated series about crime-fighting turtle brothers. There's a lot of violence to the show, as the heroes wield ninja weapons like staffs, nunchaku, and sai against the villains' guns and lasers. None of the exchanges get bloody, but aliens and monsters ooze fluids like blood after they're stabbed or dismembered. Expect some surprises and scary moments that will frighten very young kids and the menacing presence of a villain lurking in the shadows waiting to attack the Turtles. Language is also a factor here, since the characters casually use phrases like "Shut up!" or "Stick it in your shell" and "Let's bust some heads" that you might not want your kids repeating. On the upside, the Turtles' imperfect relationship is similar to those of many sets of siblings, and there are some good messages about getting along, resolving differences, and respecting elders to be found in the story.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Everybody's favorite reptilian crime fighters rise from the sewers in TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES, an updated adaptation of the story that originally debuted in the 1980s. The story centers on four anthropomorphic, mutated, man-sized turtles -- Donatello (or "Donnie," as he's known in this version) (voiced by Rob Paulsen), Rafael ("Raph") (Sean Astin), Michaelangelo ("Mikey") (Greg Cipes), and Leonardo ("Leo") (Jason Biggs) -- trained in martial arts by their teacher, Master Splinter (Hoon Lee). The bandanna-clad heroes emerge from the trenches as teenagers and fall into fighting monsters, aliens, and everything in between, unaware that their movements are being tracked by a sinister presence from Master Splinter's past.
Is it any good?
"Heroes in a half-shell" attempt a comeback in this CGI series that sticks closely to the original story and character relationships. The Turtle brothers are a lively bunch and have their share of disagreements even among themselves, but they save the harshest of their fighting for the creatures and criminals who threaten their city and the people in it. This has obvious merit in messages about standing up to bad guys (and, by association, bullies), but it also tells kids that fighting is the best way to solve just about any problem. Your kids might think it's awesome that these brothers settle their differences by matching nunchaku and sai skills in their living room, but replicating this action at home can have some pretty serious consequences.
Ultimately this is a case of knowing your kids' tolerance for what they see on TV. If they can watch the show with the realization that it's an entirely fantasized premise with behavior that has no place in the real world, then they might be OK tuning in. But if they tend to mimic what they see -- and hear -- on the screen, then you'll want to find a better option with more impressive role models of conflict resolution and sibling relationships.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about role models. In what ways does Master Splinter lead the Turtles by his own actions? Do they respond to his guidance? Whom do you consider a role model in your life?
Tweens: Is this series more or less violent than others you've seen? How does the show's animation style affect the impact of the fighting sequences? Do you think this kind of content can have negative effects on kids who watch?
How does this series compare to previous ones or movies starring the same characters? Do you think any animation style is more or less favorable in the case of these characters? Why do these particular characters keep coming back?
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