This is a turtle face that is hard to love.
  • THAT'S MICHAELANGELO, THE "FUNNY ONE" That is a turtle face that is hard to love.
There are a few good things about the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. Let's make a list: (1) It could've been a lot longer. (2) There are Ninja Turtles in it. (3) Will Arnett is funny.

And that's about it for the good stuff. The bad stuff? Other than the basic fact that producer Michael Bay decided to reboot TMNT, which makes decent people everywhere want to hurl, the most important things about this movie are awful. Like basically every second of Megan Fox as April O'Neil. I don't always hate Fox's acting, but for this movie, the direction she was given was clearly something like "Can you pout your lips a little more please? Yeah, just go all the way. I know you're standing around watching ninjas fight, but I need you to be smooch-face-ier. Also, can you part your lips, too? Yeah, really just never close your mouth all the way at all. No, it won't look weird or be distracting, just try it." (It is really distracting.) O'Neil takes the whole turtle-vigilantes thing very seriously the whole time, making her seem insane instead of awesome. People mock her for it, and those parts are fun, but it's not worth it. This movie needs to get its own joke to be great, and she messes that up.

O'Neil is also the protagonist of this movie, which is a deeply stupid choice, since the other main characters are giant mutated talking turtles who learned ninja skills from their rat sensei and have come out of the sewers to rid New York City of a bad-guy ninja clan whenever they're not eating pizza and skateboarding. That's your setup, TMNT writers. That's what you're working with. The interesting part is not Ol' Pouty Lips as a cub reporter trying to maybe avenge her father's death. That story line could work in another movie, but not here, where you also have four CGI turtle brothers swinging nunchucks all over the subway.

Another huge problem: As you can see above, the turtles look disgusting.

If you're going to reboot a beloved kids' franchise, but you for some reason want to make it more serious (which you should not be doing in the first place because "seriousness" is the exact opposite of "pizza-powered mutated '80s turtle vigilantes"), then making the turtles look like slimy roid-ragey creeps is a lame move. If the studio wanted them to be tough and serious, it could've made them tough and serious. But they're supposed to be the good guys, and inspire some amount of humor and affection. Instead, they look horrifying, and every time their gross faces show up, your brain flinches. THESE TURTLES HAVE LIPS, YOU GUYS. And human-looking teeth. And nostrils. And their proportions are all screwed up.

Um, the plot? Should I talk about the plot? Do you care? Could you possibly care about the plot? Because you know what it is: Turtles = good guys. Foot Clan = bad guys. Crime wave, cub reporter, fight fight fight, pizza, the importance of family, "Use innocent people as bait," "As long as you are true to yourself, your father will always be proud of you," "You must saaaave your broooothers," more fighting, truck chase, explosions, a part where the hotness of Megan Fox's butt causes an avalanche (don't ask). Shredder is made of zillions of knives. The bad guys' motivation is stupid and unclear, the "science" doesn't make any sense, and the whole thing is in terribly unnecessary 3-D.

However: Weirdly, magically, the turtles themselves seem to survive the horribleness. I mean, their faces are ugly, the plot is worthless, and Megan Fox plus bad writing and directing ruin April O'Neil's character. But the true comedy of the premise shines through the garbage—when O'Neil's editor is like, "There are four six-foot-tall talking turtles walking around New York City? Anything else I should know?" and O'Neil says, "Yeah. They're ninjas," THAT IS FUNNY. That is a funny thing. The turtles' brotherhood is sweet and their rat sensei is kinda nice and their jokes are okay. I can't quite advise you to give this a pass; the turtles are so deep in my 1980s heart. It's just that nothing that is good about this movie (other than Will Arnett's comic timing) has anything to do with the people who made it. It's the tiniest little photocopy-of-a-photocopy-of-a-photocopy fragment of what made the TMNT lovable in the first place.