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‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze’ (PG)

By Donna Britt and Hamani Britt-Gibson
Washington Post Staff Writer
March 22, 1991

So you think any adult -- even your own mother, who sat through four showings of the first Ninja Turtles flick -- is unqualified to review "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II -- The Secret of the Ooze?"

You're over the age. Sorry to say that, but you're a grown-up. That means you don't understand the Turtles. I can prove it. Which Turtle has the purple mask?

Nine-year-olds think they're so smart. That's Leonardo.

No it isn't.

Donatello?

Yes, but you didn't get it on the first try ... That's why a kid should do the review.

Okay, so who are the Turtles?

Four billion kids already know, but I'll explain.

Fifteen years ago, there was a truck carrying a canister of radioactive ooze, and the can fell into a sewer. ... Four pet baby turtles fell into the ooze. A Japanese rat found the turtles and got ooze on himself. Then all the animals started to grow; each day they got bigger and bigger. The rat, Splinter, became much smarter. The four turtles grew up into the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TNMT). They all have personality traits. Donatello is the inventive one --

Wow, that's an impressive word.

Thanks ... but please don't interrupt. Leonardo is the leader. Raphael is the one with an attitude. Michaelangelo is the silliest. They were taught martial arts by Splinter, who learned ninjitsu by watching his human master. Splinter's master was killed, no, murdered by Oroku Saki, also known as the Shredder. He's the bad guy.

The first Ninja Turtles movie was great, terrific and cowabunga! When I heard they were going to make a new movie, I knew it couldn't be as good as the first one.

It isn't.

Yes, it is. It's better. The Shredder is back and his costume is much scarier. See, you thought he was dead, that he couldn't survive after being smushed up in a trash compactor. But he's alive and he's madder than ever. He doesn't try to kill the Turtles as much, but he sounds madder.

The second movie does seem less violent; it's even more stylized than the first. During fights, the bad guys stand still long enough for the Turtles to crack jokes. Then the heroes karate-kick them into kingdom come. But nobody ever really gets hurt.

In the new movie, Shredder kidnaps the guy who invented the ooze, Professor Jordan Perry (David Warner), so he can use it to destroy the Turtles. He gets a German shepherd puppy named Rahzar and a baby snapping turtle named Toko and mutates them into huge, scary-looking warriors. Barbarians, kind of.

What makes this movie better?

There's this great teenage actor named Ernie Reyes Jr., who was in "Red Sonja" when he was about 5, and who did karate as Donatello (in costume) in the first TMNT movie. He plays a pizza boy who helps the Turtles destroy the Shredder with his cool karate moves.

I loved the part where the Turtles danced like M.C. Hammer in a club where Vanilla Ice was singing. See, Vanilla Ice gets his ideas from other singers. Like in this song, he says, "Go Ninja, go turtle, go," like M.C. Hammer says, "Go Hammer." If he got his own ideas, he'd be a better rapper. But I still liked his song.

This movie was funnier too. Like when the evil foot soldiers were surrounding him, Michaelangelo said, "Haven't you seen these guys on 'Wrestlemania'?" That was funny. There were jokes about 'The Karate Kid,' surfing, and bad breath. And they also beat up people with yo-yos and use sausages as nunchakus. That's real hilarious.

Is there anything you didn't like?

The new girl who plays the Turtles' friend who is a TV reporter, April O'Neil (Paige Turco), is boring. She wasn't as good an actress as the first April, Judith Hoag, who had more style and stuff.

I heard that Hoag asked for more money for this movie.

That was kind of stupid. Kids came to see the Turtles. But even if she was trying to beg, they should have used her. Another bad thing was, there wasn't any kissing, like in the first one. I like kissing -- but not too much. Why didn't you like it as much?

Well, the first film was more mystical -- darker, with more allusions to Eastern religion. It spent more time encouraging kids to be patient, and to find strength within themselves. Director Michael Pressman made the sequel brighter, sunnier -- much more like a traditional kid's cartoon. Parents will like that there's no cursing. I do miss Hoag, who brought some much-needed female energy to a baby-macho movie. But the second TMNT has enough jokes aimed at adults to make for a relatively painless outing for parents forced to take their kids to see it.

Well, all grown-ups should let their kids see "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II." Because it's not really violent and it taught me how to do tricks with yo-yos. And new karate moves.

It's one of the best movies I've ever seen. It should win an Oscar. But grown-ups are the only ones who vote, and they vote for boring movies. But even though it might not win Oscars, it will win a lot of money. That's more important.

And that's one kid's opinion.

Copyright The Washington Post

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