In which Jason Griffenhagen (of Death by Sexy ,
sharp dresser, and starlet)
reviews (post-release) whatever movie was number 1 in the box office the previous weekend,
and tells everyone why its fucking terrible. or good.
This week , after a rather critically dismal 5 week run (culminating with last week’s “Premonition” where we actually thought he was GOING to resign on the column) America pulls through and brings us a taste of pepperoni flavored nostalgia that even the kids today ATE UP.
(calling a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie “TMNT”, if we can editorially note, is like when New Kids on the Block tried to become NKOTB and Backstreet Boys pulled the BSB trick…like acronyming it is going to fool anyone into thinking this isn’t a movie about giant animated kung fu turtles….)
Because eating pizza and kicking ass never goes out of style.
You may be wondering what brought on all this sentimental reminiscing about my misguided youth.
Well, the film TMNT brought it on.
Although for some reason, I don’t think the 12 year old kids of today will be saying “Cowabunga, dudes!” to each other as much as we did. They’ll probably just text it, or leave it as a comment on Facebook. Lyk, OMG, LOLZ!
TMNT, or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, revisits those so-called “heroes in a half-shell”, that were popular enough in the early nineties to have a cartoon series, video games, action figures, three live-action movies and a Vanilla Ice* song written about them. That’s right, these turtles were hot shit back in the day. All of my friends and I got ninja turtle action figures for Christmas one year.
I got my favorite, Donatello. I think I identified with him because he was the smart, nerdy one of the group. Its either that or I really wanted to kick peoples asses with a giant bo-staff. But I’m not going to start psycho-analyzing myself. I’ll leave that to the people in the white coats who give me my happy pills.
Watching this film I had to ask: Who exactly was clamoring for another Ninja Turtle movie?
A lot of people, evidently, because it overtook the juggernaut that was 300 in the box office this week. I guess a lot of people like watching 80s surf-slang spewing, kung-fu kicking amphibians.
And now for a little backstory, for those not in the know.
The turtles, Leonardo(the leader), Raphael(the angry one), Donatello(the smart one), and Michaelangelo(the one who says ‘dude’ and skateboards) came into being when a load of nuclear waste was spilled on them accidentally. The nuclear waste also was spilled on a rat named Splinter, who happened to be the pet of a ninja master. So Splinter adopted the turtles and taught them ninja skills. Totally tubular, right? All of this originates from a comic book written by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird.
The funny thing is, Eastman and Laird intended Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to be a semi-parody of the X-men and a Frank Miller comic named Ronin. And 20 years later, TMNT overtakes Mr. Miller’s film in the box office. It really does come full circle, doesn’t it?
This episode in the TMNT saga begins with the group in tatters. Leo’s off in Central America fighting bad guys that vaguely look like Fidel Castro, Don is doing the unenviable task of IT support, Mikey is, ironically, dressing up like a turtle for children’s parties, and Raph is parading around as a vigilante named the Night Watcher. They have to rediscover their brotherhood in order to fight an evil immortal billionaire named Winters (impressively voiced by Patrick Stewart) who is collecting 13 unstoppable monsters for Unknown Sinister Purposes. In order to accomplish these USPs, he reanimates some of his former generals from long ago, who are now giant stone warriors. He also enlists the evil Foot Clan** and, SURPRISE!, this doesn’t work out too well.
The monsters are scary, but not too scary, and the swords everyone wields never actually cut anything except for other swords. There’s lots of kung-fu fighting*** and the story is coherent enough to hold the film together. The best part of the film was, once again, the visuals, and if I smoked a huge bong before the film they probably would have been cooler. But, like I said before, I ain’t 12 anymore, and as well all know, trying to recapture your youth can be kind of embarrassing. Just don’t tell that to the balding dude at the end of the bar with the pierced ear, members-only jacket and the grey ponytail. He’ll get all weepy on ya.
NEXT WEEK: If the number one film isn’t the Will Ferell/Jon Heder figure skating epic, Blades Of Glory, then I’ll totally eat my shorts, dude. Well…I’m off to find my Vans, my Skidz, and my Hypercolor shirt.
‘Til then… Hang loose, brahs!
* Who could possibly forget Ninja Rap? Go ninja, go ninja, go, indeed.
**Sans Shredder! That’s right NO SHREDDER IN THIS MOVIE! No Krang, Bebop or Rocksteady either. Although, it was alluded to that Shredder would show up in the sequel. If you didn’t realize already, I wasn’t exactly a lady-killer in middle school.
***And yes, their fists were fast as lightning.