Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem shows us that Splinter had a bad experience with humans when the Turtles were young, so he’s had a strong distrust and fear of them ever since. He’s humorously always telling the four brothers they will be captured and milked by the humans. This causes the Ninja Turtles to live in the shadows, coming out to only stealthily gather the supplies they need for living underground in the sewer while longing for the day when humans will like them. They have a dream of being able to go to high school, just like an ordinary human. This sense of alienation and longing to be accepted by humanity brought me back to the days of the original Stan Lee X-Men comic books. They’re both labeled as mutants, aka others who are not worthy of being part of normal society.
The mutant villains are led by Superfly (Ice Cube). They feel the same way that the Turtles do, although, like Magneto from the X-Men, they intend to make humanity pay rather than try to get along instead. Journalist April O’Neil (Ayo Edebiri) helps Leo, Raph, Mikey, and Don on their quest to save the day while also being a source of humor since Leonardo crushes on her, acting like the nervous teenager he is when in her presence.
“…has something for fans of all ages.”
In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, the Turtles actually feel and talk like young teenagers, with modern lingo such as “sus” (suspicious). In the course of our lifetime, and especially during our high school years, I bet most of us felt like outcasts. The theme of longing for acceptance is played effectively, so there’s a heart to it that you may not have expected. Chan has always been able to make me laugh, and he’s still doing it here. When he has the hots for a fellow mutant creature who we humans would find disgusting, it is funny.
There are some fun easter eggs for older fans such as myself, like a martial arts montage that gives us a glimpse of a young Chan in action. There are also little nods to Eastman and Laird and the famous “Ninja Rap” mentioned earlier. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem has something for fans of all ages. The breezy runtime of an hour and 39 minutes is also much appreciated in this modern era of overlong movies.
"…the Turtles actually feel and talk like young teenagers..."