If you thought this podcast was done discussing everyone’s favorite gang of pubescent crime fighting reptiles, we’ve got news for you! Less than a year after the first TMNT movie did some major league butt-kicking at the box office, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of The Ooze offered a second helping of Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo — plus their furry but wise sensei Splinter, their cutlery-inspired arch-nemesis Shredder, and a whole lot of shameless pizza promotion.
There’s no question that this sequel is more kid-friendly than the original, replacing Judith Hoag’s feisty April O’Neil with the more amiable Paige Turco, ditching the hockey-stick wielding bad boy Casey Jones, and giving our heroes a teenage pizza delivery boy sidekick. It also shows off more of Jim Henson’s creature effects with its super-sized baby villains Tokka and Rahzar. But TMNT II is perhaps best known as the film debut of Vanilla Ice, whose “Ninja Rap” inspires the hip-hop dance number that no early 90s family flick should be without.
And before we’re completely done dining on turtle soup, our hosts reminisce about the video games, action figures, concert tours, and other wild Ninja Turtles merch we begged our parents to buy us. Go ninja, go ninja, go listen to part two of our podcast — back by bodacious demand!
Now this is a Ninja Turtles movie!
I enjoyed the offbeat darkness and mishmash of tones of the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie — compared to the bland episode of the cartoon series we watched, anyway. It’s a good enough halfway point between Saturday morning cartoons and Tim Burton’s Batman. But Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of The Ooze is the Ninja Turtles film I really wanted as a seven-year-old, with more kid-friendly characters, goofier humor, and an upgrade in creature effects.
Of primary importance is the recasting of Paige Turco as April O’Neil, substituting for Judith Hoag. No offense to Ms. Hoag, but she was not suitable for my six-year-old needs as a TV news reporter who, let’s face it, is kind of a bimbo. Paige Turco is light and funny and more conventionally pretty, and I can’t help feeling that she fits into this world much more comfortably, even if as an adult I feel bad wanting the only female character to stand out less. Hoag’s April was feisty, whereas Turco is merely playful — she’s one of the gang, and doesn’t have that awkward, not-really-for-kids romance with Casey Jones. (Casey Jones is gone, too — and good riddance.)
As a kid, I’m not sure Vanilla Ice’s “Ninja Rap” affected my enjoyment of the film either way, but it sure does elevate this one’s kitschy nostalgic appeal to an adult.
Do I recommend that anyone rush right out and catch up on the Ninja Turtles movies? I do not. But I’d be lying if I said that a certain childish affection for this bonkers franchise didn’t come wafting back while watching them. And given how atrocious and unwatchable Michael Bay’s Transformer-ized take on the turtles is, I gladly proclaim Secret Of The Ooze the best Ninja Turtles movie we’ve ever had, and likely the best there ever will be. I may not need this franchise in my life as an adult, but I’m not sorry about the hours of amusement it gave me as a kid.