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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 7+

Muppetry coaxes campy '90s hit out of its shell.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the once-criticized violence in this Turtle soup is mainly martial arts slapstick comedy -- as long as it's the Ninja Turtles embroiled in the combat. When it's humans clubbing or threatening one another, there's a sense of menace (especially when the perpetrators are predator gangs of feral boys). The Foot Clan here is a Hollywood glorification of a street gang, with a secret headquarters filled with adolescent attractions like skateboarding, games, music, girls, cigarettes, and fellowship. Even though it's supposed to be a big lie, the imagery is still like a recruiting poster.

  • Families can talk about the armies of "rejected" kids who flocked to join the outlaw Foot Clan. Why would they want to join a gang? It's possible to even use the Turtles as a jumping-off point to teach about Renaissance artists (Donatello, Leonardo, etc.) -- a reminder, like The Da Vinci Code, that the Renaissance is constantly popping up in pop culture. Why do you think that is?

The good stuff
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    Messages: While the hot-headed Raphael has problems with discipline and anger management, he's still principled, heroic, and brave. Splinter the Rat is an especially wise mentor-figure, more so than many human counterparts. Fighting solves all problems here, of course.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence and scariness: Abundant martial arts fighting that's sometime comical and slapstick (usually when it's Turtle-vs.-villains), sometimes bone-crunching and brutal (when its human-on-human). Two dead bodies seen as the result of barely offscreen karate killings. Human characters threatened with baseball bats, swords, and clubs. One character crushed in a trash compactor. Heroes knocked out and comatose, but no blood.

  • sex false0

    Sexy stuff: A brief glimpse of underaged girls in sexy streetwear.

  • language false3

    Language: "Damn" is as bad as it gets.

  • consumerism false5

    Consumerism: Plugs for Domino's pizza, other movies, and TV shows (how many young viewers will get the reference to Moonlighting, though?). Of course, the Ninja Turtles were an industry in themselves, with toys, games, comics, T-shirts, practically everything that could and was sold to kids.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Recreational drinking and smoking in a lawless kids' club.