Published on September 29th, 2023 | by Curtis Mayfield
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem – Film Review
Reviewed by Curtis Mayfield on the 27th of September 2023
Paramount Pictures presents a film by Jeff Rowe
Screenplay by Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Jeff Rowe, Dan Hernandez, and Benji Samit
Produced by Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, and James Weaver
Starring Micah Abbey, Shamon Brown Jr., Nicolas Cantu, Brady Noon, Ayo Edebiri, Maya Rudolph, John Cena, Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Natasia Demetriou, Giancarlo Esposito, Jackie Chan, Ice Cube, Paul Rudd, Austin Post, and Hannibal Buress
Cinematography Kent Seki
Edited by Greg Levitan
Music by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
Running Time: 100 minutes
Release Date: on the 7th of September 2023
Every few years audiences are given a shot of 1980s nostalgia in the form of a mutated turtles that practice ninjutsu and scoff down NYC-styled pizza. Michael Bay most recently took a turn at producing some monstrous version of the turtles that didn’t fair well with fans. Thankfully, the Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg headed Point Grey Productions teamed up with Nickelodeon to make what is easily the best and most fun turtles movie with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem. This time it is filmed in a fun, rough edged-styled animation that looks like it’s been ripped straight from the comics and put on screen. This could be because of the love for the recent animated Spider-Verse movies.
What jumps off the screen the most is the chemistry between the young, relatively unknown lead voice actors playing the ninja turtles. It’s nice that the turtles have ditched their Californian accents for the more suitable New York inflections instead. Leader Leonardo (Nicolas Cantu) is in charge of keeping his brothers in the sewer and out of trouble. Party dude Michelangelo (Shamon Brown Jr.) is less of an annoying surfer and has become an improv comedy nerd while bloodthirsty Raphael (Brady Noon) and tech-savvy Donatello (Micah Abbey) round out the team.
When we meet the turtles they crave for a life outside of the sewers, only going outside for supplies and sneaking in a movie or two. Master Splinter (voiced perfectly by Jackie Chan) doesn’t trust humans or the outside world so he tells his adoptive turtle sons that they can’t interact with the world. Of course this a story about teenagers so naturally they constantly sneak out to film themselves chopping fruit with their weapons.
A chance encounter with student journalist April O’Neil (Ayo Edebiri) gives the turtles a chance to reach out to the human world through good PR and viral tactics. Edebiri gives April more of a character arc than the entire franchise has ever provided her before. An underworld crime boss by the name of Superfly (Ice Cube) gives the turtles an opportunity to fight evil and in the process be accepted by the outside world. The chemistry between the characters shines through with what sounds like improved dialogue recorded in the same room as all the actors.
A standout scene features the turtles voicing their love for bacon, egg and cheese rolls (along with pizza too of course). The needle-drops in the film are just as incredible as the art-style and featured cast. Elder-millennials will appreciate the 90s hip-hop jams that accompany the action set pieces. Who would have guessed ODB’s ‘Shimmy Shimmy Ya’ would make an appearance in a kid’s movie? Trent Razor and Atticus Ross provide an original score that is Oscar-worthy. Their darks tones and beats create a tense and fantastic mist for the turtles to kick and punch their way through.
Co-directors Jeff Rowe and Kyler Spears bring the magic they captured with The Mitchells vs The Machines (2021) over to this movie with Rogen and Goldberg co-writing. TMNT: Mutant Mayhem takes some fresh and interesting turns that should both appeal to long-time fans and novice viewers. Shredder and the Foot Clan are left out of the mix this go around, which thankfully gives other characters from Ninja Turtles lore room to shine. Paul Rudd featuring as Mondo Gecko is the most perfect and brilliant casting in movie history.
As the title suggests there are a selection of other mutants in this story. That includes the iconic Bebop and Rocksteady voiced by Seth Rogen and John Cena. Mutant Mayhem is a rare gift that can be appreciated by young and old (shout out to my elder millennials) with a good mix of kid and adult humour. Not since Team America: World Police (2004) has there been a funnier puke scene. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is by the far the best animated film of the year and easily the best Ninja Turtles movie ever produced.
Summary: This is by the far the best animated film of the year and easily the best Ninja Turtles movie ever produced.