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

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
March 22, 1991

Pardon this personal aside, but my 6-year-old and 8-year-old were clearly the ones to consult about "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret of the Ooze." Their devotion to the TMNT movie-and-accessory empire, which suggests the relationship between ancient Egyptian vassals and Ra the Sun God, is legendary.

They saw the first movie five times. With strange moans they crave Turtle toys, comics and colored headbands. They demand that their birthday cakes be shaped like favored Ninja characters Michaelangelo or Raphael. They know the TMNT soundtrack album inside out. They went to the incredibly tacky Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles road show.

They are Turtle-literate.

They saw this "Ooze" sequel, demolished a medium tub of popcorn doing it, and they gave the movie four greasy thumbs up. Better than the first, they claimed. No question. Awesome, bodacious, a pizza-snorting 10. Would they also see this one five times? Absolutely.

Welcome to the TMNT audience.

But to one pair of older, less commercially hypnotized eyes, the follow-up didn't seem quite as good as the first -- at least, in terms of reproducing the atmosphere of the original. The re-peddled humdrum story reveals the four turtles' nuclear-oozy beginnings and involves a rematch between the green guys (led by their rodent mentor Splinter) and the dreaded Shredder and The Foot (a gang of teenage ninja nasties). The humor, which made the first movie appealing to more than just TV kids, is far less adroit. Quotable lines -- such as the original's "Give me three!" -- are noticeably lacking.

As for the human guest stars, Ernie Reyes Jr., who performed the martial-arts stunts for Donatello in the first movie, appears on screen and outta green as a pizza delivery boy with lethal, aerial abilities. But his kicking prowess is the only standout feature in an otherwise lackluster round of animatronic choreography. The late Jim Henson, who designed the animatronics behind the TMNT films, is sorely missed.

British actor David Warner (the memorable Devil in "Time Bandits") has a few lightly comic moments as an industrial investigator of toxic waste. Rap-poseur Vanilla Ice and his band get a N-ice career plug, performing a song (appropriately titled "Ninja Rap") during a nightclub fight scene. But Judith Hoag, who played April O'Neil, the woman reporter and chum of the Turtles, has been inexplicably replaced by daytime soap star Paige Turco. Did the producers think the under-12 audience wouldn't notice?

We're talking sequel here (see requisite colon in the title), a regenerated facsimile produced by the original "Ninja" producers and supplemented with mammoth, shellbacked merchandising. Neither you nor your Teenage Mutant Ninja children can withstand the commercial might of the TMNT marketing machine. There is, however, one escape clause for the unwilling parent: Grandparents. They're good for these things. They're not doing anything. Call them right now.

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