All I could think about once I saw Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem was when I could see it again. Unfortunately, I won't be able to make it out to the theater this weekend, or probably for the next week or so. If circumstances were different, I'd exploit my AMC A-List membership and use possibly two of the three weekly slots to go to TMNT: MM a total of three times.
Sidebar: If you love going to the movies and you’re not on AMC A-List — not an ad, btw — what are you doing? It’s about $25 per month. Which, like…if you saw Oppenheimer in IMAX once, that pays for itself. And that’s as often as I needed to see Oppenheimer. It was really good but…yeah Barbie was more fun and better. Yeah I said it.
And if I’m being honest, so was Mutant Mayhem. Holy shit was this a laugh-out-loud funny romp. A big reason why? Well, it helps to have Seth Rogen and his longtime creative partner Evan Goldberg as driving forces behind the latest animated sensation. As hilarious as the story was that Rogen and Co. came up with, though, I was fucking blown away by the core cast of Ninja Turtles.
I’m a sicko who checks out tons of press junket interviews and I think Collider does a pretty damn good job. Yeah there are some boilerplate common questions that are thrown in like any other media outlet covering a new movie release. However, I consistently find tidbits like this that are MOST ILLUMINATING (Keanu Reeves Ted Theodore Logan voice): The quartet of Turtles recorded their lines together and were able to improvise all over the place. Too much good stuff in here to bore you with a big-ass block quote, so the timestamp shall suffice:
WHO ARE THESE TURTLES? To be that seemingly polished, put-together and creatively in-tune at that age...yeah that's impressive.
For almost all animated projects, it’s rare for actors to be recording in joint sessions. That’s often due to scheduling conflicts and in-demand actors being unable to line up and meet at the same time. These actual teens fully committed to nailing the Turtles, and their chemistry explodes through the screen. They’re constantly talking over each other with overlapping dialogue. Not easy at all to do in animation. Unless of course…your whole cast is present to riff off each other. Credit director Jeff Rowe, too, for making this call and having it pay off in such an incredible way.
How about a little clip? Check out the Turtles in action!!
The talent and comedic chops that these young actors have blew me away. Micah Abbey as Donatello honestly made me think it was Awkwafina for a second but then I realized that couldn’t be right. He was unbelievably funny. Nicolas Cantu carried the load as the leader, Leonardo, and had the best arc of all the characters. Mighty Ducks Game Changers star Brady Noon — underrated show on Disney+, at least the first season — surprised me as Raphael with his full-send fuck-it attitude and was a great contrast to his more measured Turtle bros. Shamon Brown Jr’s turn as Michelangelo is pitch-perfect.
Doing all I can not to spoil too much.
If you haven’t seen Mutant Mayhem yet, and you're one of those snobs who hates animation, is a NINETY-SIX PERCENT on Rotten Tomatoes good enough for you!? With a 91% audience score to back it up?
Pretty unanimous critical acclaim. For good reason. One of the joys of going into this surprise hit totally in the dark was reading afterwards who voiced some of the supporting characters. Serious big-name Hollywood heavy hitters in several instances. I won’t give them away here. I picked out the main villain right away. Everyone else? A delightful surprise. Another reason I really want to see it at least twice in theaters, hopefully three.
I can’t imagine there’s a better TMNT movie out there. I watched the Turtles on TV all the time as a kid and have literally no memory of anything that happened. Just thought it was dope. I’m sure diehard fans are loving Mutant Mayhem even more, but perhaps most importantly, this is the type of thing that can kickstart a rebooted, tired IP in a fresh way.
On only a $70 million budget, Mutant Mayhem made $43 million at the box office in its first five days of release. Now at $64.2 million as o this writing. With the weekend approaching, I can almost guarantee you that the new Ninja Turtles will give you one of the most fun experiences you’ll have at the movie theater this year. Unless you don’t have a sense of humor at all. Then whatever. Enjoy being bored to death and confused by the black-and-white/color narrative jumps in Oppenheimer. JUST KIDDING I really like Oppenheimer. But in terms of rewatchability? Mutant Mayhem all the way, baby. Inject that oooooooooze into my veiiiiiiiiins.
Interesting discussion from the LCB bros about whether an animated movie can win the Best Picture Oscar someday. Mutant Mayhem ain't gonna be it. Guess we'll have to wait until at least the TBD release of Beyond The Spider-Verse?