My introduction to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, who are probably the most accurately named band of fictional characters ever, also happens to be one of my earliest memories. It's not a specific memory, just that, at some point as a very young child in the very early 90's, I watched the animated TV show in my parents' living room. It came on after Roseanne, a show I detest to this day, and I would watch it while laying flat across an ottoman. I also remember eating dog food on several occasions while watching. Ah, the carefree days of extreme youth.
Unbeknownst to my toddler self, however, was that this time period also saw the release of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle live action films. I'm assuming my parents covered up any word on those to keep me safe or whatever, similar to how they would hide the existence of the Power Rangers from me several years later.
Now that I'm an adult and can watch whatever I want, I've finally seen these movies. And, you know what, both 1990's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and 1991's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze were actually pretty damn good. They are fairly faithful to the cartoon and even the original comic book series, albeit in a Hollywood sort of way, and are kind to any audience looking to watch a bunch of mutated animals eat pizza and fight.
Sure, the films play up the late 80's/early 90's New York City, with thick accents and tough, if ineffective cops, abound, but hey, they are from the early 90's. One plus to being from that time period, though, is the costumes. Designed by Jim Henson's workshop, the various costumes and puppetry in the films are light years ahead of all but the most recent CGI. One particularly amazing scene is the nunchaku duel in the first film — even 21 year old me was all “how'd they do that?” the first time I saw it.
With that in mind, it must be said that they are pretty violent for “kids films.” Though the fighting is as dumb and absurd as you would think any fighting involving four guys dressed as turtles would be, there is a whole lot of it. Jim Henson was apparently distressed by the level of violence in the first film, which may have some effect, as the turtles did not use their weapons in the second film. This is something that I would argue was a good thing, as it honestly is more realistic (a strange word for these films indeed) than people swinging swords around to no visible effect.
As for the other two related films: 1993's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III we don't need to talk about, and I have not seen 2007's TMNT, nor do I plan on seeing it under any circumstance other than one which could be termed “life threatening.”
Anyway, the first film is available right here, so why not order up some pizza and climb into this great sewer full of nostalgia?