First H&V column from my NEW computer! I made the tactical error of upgrading my phone last week which essentially made the decision to upgrade my computer for me. You see, I have a lot of music that’s just not on streaming services and also my entire CD collection (circa 2005 and before) that lived on my phone previously. A lot of oddball stuff that I can’t really find anywhere else. At any rate, I plugged my new phone into my 12+ year old laptop and the computer promptly shat itself to death.
But I’m not here to write about my new computer or my new phone, even though I am an American and therefore defined by my purchases. No, I’m here to write about the most important movie that you can stream on HBO Max right now…
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze
If you thought it was going to be something else, you’ve clearly not been paying enough attention to this column.
Website io9 reminded me this week that March 22nd was the 30th anniversary of the TMNT sequel. I’ve personally given up on the “oh god, I’m so old and the march of time is as inevitable as it is punishing” schtick, I instead choose to remember it as when I started to confront the fact that I may indeed be getting “too old” for such things. Junior high school was right around the corner, I was now solidly in the double digits for my age, the kids menu was no longer as filling as it once had been.
Ooze is a notable departure from the previous TMNT film, ditching the dark and gritty tone for something more in line with the cartoon that had catapulted the Turtles to popularity. It was more brightly lit, a bit more silly, and still a whole lot of fun. I’ll still pick the first movie as my personal favorite and my ranking of them does indeed fall in order of release with the third film being a very distant third (they didn’t use the Henson Creature Shop animatronics in that one…just sayin’).
In their second outing the Turtles still ate pizza and fought ninjas but they also fought other mutants since it was a sequel and the stakes had to be higher. The Shredder bounced back from being crushed in the back of a garbage truck by Casey Jones (conspicuously absent from this outing) with a new badass costume and a plan to defeat the Turtles once and for all. Listen, it’s not high art.
It also just clicked into place in my brain that Vanilla Ice was in this movie’s climax. That’s GOT to move the needle from “just plain silly” to “unrelentingly silly.” Especially if we’re supposed to believe that ol’ ‘Nilla I came up with the song “Ninja Rap” right on the spot. If we’re to believe that’s true and Mr VanWinkle came up with that song right then and there that would make him one of, if not the, greatest freestyle rappers of ALL TIME. The Turtles also have a choreographed dance to go with the song and one of them (Mikey?) uses a keytar to blast Shredder through a wall and thus saving the day.
When I saw this move in the theater it wasn’t quite the event the first one was. In a power “Mother of the Year” move my mom had taken me out of school for the day to see the first one at the first possible showing. For this one, a sleepover had been arranged with my friend from another school and my parents drew the short straw (presumably) and took us to see it. Perhaps rock, paper, scissors was employed. After that we stayed up late discussing the finer points of the movie, how cool it was that it had been dedicated to Jim Henson’s memory, and then watched Carson and Letterman before passing out.
As of this writing, I don’t think there have been any HD remasters of the original TMNT movies and I find it a little hard to believe the fandom surrounding the franchise hasn’t demanded them. If there’s one thing fandoms are good at it’s being demanding, that’s for sure. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles remains one of those evergreen (Pun? Judges?) that not even Michael Bay could kill and there’s already more TMNT stuff in development. I don’t know about you, but I feel like we all collectively forgot the Bay-produced movie AND its sequel exist. TMNT just keeps chugging along, mutating to adapt to the times and the tastes of its core demographic…people in their 40’s and their kids.