At possible risk to both my personal and professional lives, let's do this: Circa fifth grade, maybe 1991, I was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles freak. Shortly following my Batman and Dick Tracy phases, and immediately preceding Jurassic Park's paleontological obsessions, it was all about the Ninja Turtles: the movies, the cartoon, the trading cards, those sweet, sweet Turtle Pies. I snuck over to Danny Kormylo's house to play the Ninja Turtles Nintendo game; I had a stylin' sweatpants/sweatshirt ensemble that prominently featured Leonardo; I knew the words to Vanilla Ice's "Ninja Rap." Etc.
So it was with no small amount of trepidation that I greeted TMNT, the latest incarnation of my beloved childhood heroes. Frankly, I expected it to suck: It's CG, it's been like 15 years since the Ninja Turtles were cool, and I clearly remember, at age 13, decreeing their third film to be "fucking terrible." But—here it is—TMNT is actually pretty awesome.
Picking up a few years after the last film (are they still even teenagers?), TMNT finds the Turtles in bad shape: Leonardo's off in some jungle; Donatello works IT phone support; Raphael patrols New York's streets alone; Michelangelo entertains kids at birthday parties; Splinter, the Turtles' giant rat of a father figure, is addicted to soap operas. Meanwhile, and in a very Ghostbusters twist, a bad guy is unleashing supernatural monsters upon New York—leaving it up to the Turtles to team with old allies April O'Neil and Casey Jones, eat pizza, make wisecracks, and remind us why every single product made from 1989-1993 bore the Ninja Turtles' logo.
Once you get past his too-cute story (where's Shredder, man? HUH?), writer/director Kevin Munroe does a pretty slick job. TMNT's surprisingly funny and character-driven, with a couple of kickass fight scenes, solid CG, and a geek-tastic array of voice talent: Patrick Stewart, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ziyi Zhang, Kevin Smith, Lawrence Fishburne. (It's at once hilarious and oddly unsettling to hear Stewart augustly proclaim "I must have hit my head... I'm seeing giant turtles!") Buried somewhere in TMNT's shameless attempt to cash in on twentysomethings' nostalgia (next up—Transformers!), there's a film that's genuinely fun, that reminded me what it felt like to be 11. Sure, maybe I immediately squelched that feeling with a few beers. But for an hour and a half? Felt pretty good.