TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: MUTANT MAYHEM
Starring: Nicolas Cantu, Brady Noon, Micah Abbey, Shamon Brown Jr., Ayo Edebiri, Jackie Chan, Ice Cube, Seth Rogen, John Cena, Maya Rudolph, Paul Rudd, Giancarlo Esposito, Rose Byrne, Natasia Demetriou, Austin Post, and Hannibal Buress
Directors: Jeff Rowe and Kyler Spears
The Into the Spider-Verse affect is on full display with Mutant Mayhem and it’s beautiful. From its unique animation style to pitch perfect music choices, Mayhem utilizes the Spidey films’ groundbreaking aesthetics without feeling like a knockoff. The star-studded voice cast is led by the charming dynamic of an actual teenage foursome (Nicolas Cantu, Brady Noon, Micah Abbey, Shamon Brown Jr.) and Ayo Edebiri as April O’Neil, creating heartfelt characters and a story from which every other aspect shines. The action, humor, and character motivations feel fresh while still paying homage, easily making this the best TMNT movie to date.
As a lifelong TMNT fan, I feel comfortable saying that Mutant Mayhem is the best movie of the franchise yet. Is the story perfect? No. It’s pretty familiar, honestly. But thankfully, the movie has plenty to make up for it. Obviously, the animation is tremendous. But the movie also is funny, and the cast is great, namely the leads (Nicolas Cantu, Brady Noon, Micah Abbey, and Shamon Brown Jr.); however, what really elevates it is the amount of heart it has. It has a clear message that is executed in such a heartwarming way that I was smiling as I exited the theater.
Mutant Mayhem is a fantastic return to form for the Ninja Turtles. The film's teenage leads (Nicolas Cantu, Brady Noon, Micah Abbey, Shamon Brown Jr.) are undeniably charismatic, lending these brothers more chemistry than they’ve ever had before. Although the Turtles shine, I found the extended cast to be rather undeveloped. The villainous Superfly (Ice Cube) and his fellow mutants feel more like voice actor cameos than actual characters. Thankfully, the narrative packs enough of a punch to succeed despite its villain problem, delivering an entertaining and stylish new direction for the franchise that truly understands the youthful appeal of these characters.
As a 42-year-old dude who grew up on TMNT (I had the action figures and everything!), it’s hard to tell where my views as a movie lover separate from the pure nostalgia of it all, but either way, I had a damn good time with Mutant Mayhem. The coming-of-age story about acceptance is nothing new, recycling themes from 2000’s X-Men, but the TMNT-ness of it is quite subversive and full of great callbacks to the franchise’s history, even as they refresh the origin story. With a tremendous hip-hop soundtrack, a scene-stealing Jackie Chan as Splinter, and Into the Spider-Verse-level animation, this one is a winner.
Mutant Mayhem is exactly what you might expect from a movie co-written and produced by Seth Rogen. Taking advantage of low-hanging fruit, some of the humor is pedestrian and outplayed, while the Into the Spider-Verse-inspired animation may not be for everyone. Having set that stage… I thoroughly enjoyed it. As a Ninja Turtle-phile, I think the movie does justice to the original story and characters from the comic book and cartoon while still remaining fresh. The voice acting is on point, the soundtrack is next level, and I smiled all the way through this rendition that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Cowabunga!
Mutant Mayhem is the first film of the franchise to take a swing and try something different with the world of TMNT. This is especially true because of the younger iterations of its titular heroes that focus less on the ninja characteristics and more on family. Splinter (Jackie Chan) is no longer master; he is just dad to four motor-mouthed, rebellious, and cringey teenagers that happen to be turtles. Overall, the comedy mostly lands, and the animation is a delight, creating Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for a new generation of fans. Older TMNT fans will likely enjoy the fresh take too.
As a relative newcomer to the TMNT world, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when it came to the group’s newest adventures in Mutant Mayhem. That said, I do love animation, and this marks yet another win for the medium in 2023. The film very much feels like something made for today’s youth without simultaneously feeling cynical or condescending, and the art style – while certainly inspired by the Spider-Verse films – feels distinctly its own. Narratively, the film isn’t exactly the singing triumph it could be, but the comedy feels appropriately tailored, and the voice cast all do solid work.
Cowabunga, dudes! Mutant Mayhem is a total blast. This flick is definitely targeted towards a younger audience, which means the plot plays it safe at times, but it’s still filled with fun for everyone to enjoy. The sketch-like animation is stellar, and allowing the voice cast to record in the same space together really paid off because the chemistry between these turtles radiates on screen. While Mutant Mayhem may not be my favorite TMNT film, it’s still a delightful new installment that everyone should go see with their families.