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Turtle therapy

Movies | Late '80s cartoon heroes find themselves with grown-up problems

Issue: "Street warfare," April 7, 2007

So what happens when your favorite heroes in a half-shell finally grow up? Although TMNT-the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles feature film since their late '80s, early '90s heyday-doesn't explicitly say so, the world's most fearsome fighting team is more like thirtysomething Mutant Ninja Turtles. It's appropriate that TMNT, rated PG for thematic elements, begins by explaining what the shelled ones have been up to for the past 15 or so years.

If Leonardo was 17 in 1990, he would be 34 now. Perhaps like other 34-year-old, single wanderers, Leonardo is doing a bit of soul-searching-in Central America. Both Donatello and Michelangelo have taken dead-end jobs. Raphael has turned into a moody recluse and a justice-minded vigilante.

Much of the movie deals with bringing this once-close family back together. Raphael holds a grudge against Leonardo for staying away so long. Donatello likes to argue with Raphael. Michelangelo is, as always, an oblivious pizza-obsessed skateboarder.

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But there's a problem. New fans probably bought tickets to see some sweet ninja action, not Splinter playing Dr. Phil with his boys. Old school fans likely want the same thing: Turtle Power.

So when the Ninja Turtles actually get to some action, fans can sit back and enjoy the show as the Turtles take on a quartet of immortal rock beasts that want to take over the world.

None of this makes TMNT a particularly good film. But it does carry familiar tones for long-time fans who, like the Turtles, woke up one day in their 20s or 30s to believe they'll never accomplish all those cool and heroic things they once planned to do.

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