A Review of the first 30 minutes of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Out of the Shadows” On DVD as observed during lunch with my students

This review is encapsulates most of my lunches.

I have a standing agreement with my student that if she gets here work done we will watch a movie during lunch.  At least twice (at most five times) a week since October we have watched the same film: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Out of the Shadows.  Lunch at our school is not the full run time of the movie so we only get about 30 minutes into the film on any given day and the next time the opportunity arises my student insists to start the film from the beginning each time… each and every time.

The beginning of disc plays previews for other movies.  When it starts up, I go to skip straight to movie, but my student (we will call her Anne) insists that we go back to watch trailers.

We do.

Trailer 1: Monster Trucks

I think Monster Trucks is already had it’s run theaters so much not have too much of a splash. The story is a classic tale of an octopus that eats a truck engine and becomes a truck monster. My student informs me, “It’s scary. Boss Baby is in the 3-D”.  That seems non-sequitur but yes that’s how it goes in my class. On screen a girl who rides horses meets the main character, they fall in love within the 5 seconds of the trailer, just like how real life work. You see someone they are appropriately lite and smiling, boom! True love.  This lesson is repeated to my students, and all students scores of times a week. It makes real connections through knowledge, shared experience and interest seem disingenuous understimulating. This occurs to me as the bad octopus truck is established in the trailer, his truck is more sleek and attacks other trucks.  Since those ancillary  trucks aren’t octopus things, the moral indignance I am suppose to feel doesn’t register in the way I assume the filmmakers intended.

Shouting erupts about chocolate milk in my classroom.  I am called to resolve the dairy crisis and the movie goes unpaused.

When I return we are onto another trailer.

Trailer 2: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (201?)

The turtles spot April O’Neil after she takes a picture on her phone that has an audible bulb flash not the shutters sound but rather the pop and buzz of a full size filament.  She has a studio quality lighting fixture on her phone I guess.

My students get in an argument about sharing…like the hypothetical act and when it should occur. This requires fielding questions, and reassurance “That you can share your lunch if you want but you don’t have to.”

When I am returned to the movie, the feature film has begun.

Our Feature Presentation:

The movie starts with turtles running, through sewers and are introduced with title cards as they banter back and forth throwing a pizza box. This pizza box is crucial. The title cards report the turtles to be: Leonardo the leader, Raphael the attitude, Donatello the brains, and Michelangelo the pizza lover. They are headed to see the New York Knicks play a home game against the Los Angeles Clippers.

At the game, Will Arnett is celebrated for defeating Shredder in the previous movie. I haven’t seen the previous movie, but the turtles take umbrage to this claim and start shooting spit wads at Arnett as he is interviewed live on the court about his bravery before the game begins. This is weird for a couple reasons, first the turtles are on top of the rafters in the ceiling, Madison Square Garden is 150 feet tall, generously they are at least 120 feet away from Will Arnett but they nail him with wet paper projected through a straw on the face and neck. Go ahead and try and hit anything further than 15 feet away with a spit wad. Furthermore, no one thinks that it’s weird he is getting pegged with spit wads while being interviewed. Despite one hitting his face, the journalist talking to Arnett does not bat an eye.  Remember as far as everyone, except the ninja turtles and the soon to be introduced April O’neil, is concerned this man saved the entire city of New York from destruction, saved their very lives, and no one is even put off that he is getting spit on!

Meanwhile, April O’Neil (as Megan Fox is called in this movie) radios into the turtles that she has found the scientist she was looking for.  This thread is probably the main plot to the movie as the scientist is played by Tyler Perry and is seen later. April is at a fancy bar at the top of grand central station, throws herself at Perry. She stimulates his nerd scientist ego by insisting she loves his work, to which he is appropriately blustery. Then he leaves in a hurry to meet someone in the station that has something is also part of plot that I never get to see…

Anyway to April tracks the currier and who walking right up toward a of group of…umm… schoolgirl fetish models?  I am unsure if the movie intends for these women to be understood to be uniformed high school girls but the producers of film jump at the chance to undress Megan Fox. April sheds her blonde wig, shoplifts from a conveniently placed schoolgirl outfit kiosk and one exposed midriff later has placed the tracking device on the currier to do whatever might happen further into movie.  This scene is rough because it causes the tone of the movie to become muddy, April uses sex appeal as leverage twice in like 5 minutes of screentime but the film stars animated talking turtles who know ninjutsu.  April in her smoldering outfit reports to the turtles that the plot thing is now established and we cut back to hilarious tomfoolery at Madison Square Garden.

The turtles are now eating the pizza they brought with them. The tropes of each turtle is reinforced until Mikey drops a piece of pizza.  The pizza falls onto center court of the game in progress. A Los Angeles Clipper player slips and falls grasping at the basketball which is declared a jump ball.  The player rightfully protests, “Pizza! There is pizza on my shoe!”  The ref shrugs, “Welcome to New York.”  That is not the rules of basketball! Pizza isn’t all over the place during a basketball game, watch a player take a charge sometime, they immediately clean the floor. Pizza would cause stoppage of play, look it up!  Of the 30 minutes of this movie that I’ve seen, that drives me up the wall. It’s just lazy, it represents the entire blockbuster system, shrugging off rules and reason to expedite nothing.  This scene means nothing, just antics on a big stage.

The turtles depart and note, “We’ll never fit it.”

“We’re ninjas, we move in the shadows.” Raphael retorts.

At this point my student has finished processing the pizza scene, “Pizza, it has and cheese, and… Mr. Sam?”

“Yeah?”

“It’s hot.”

“Hot pizza tastes good.”

My student Anne, nods her ascent.

The turtle wagon somehow makes it’s appearance.  It’s easily the best part of the movie, looks just like the toy. The turtles nerd out, it shoots sewer lids, raw 90’s rad.

“Mr. Sam?” another student asks.

“Yes?”

“Do you like boys-2-men?”

“Sure.”

I am beckoned over to watch a Boys-2-Men music video from the Prince of Egypt. My student sings it to me over her head phones and then explains the narrative of the music video about ” a boy, he punches light.”

Next I am made to watch the Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston duet “Believe” also from the Prince of Egypt soundtrack.

I looked up at the movie as the lunch bell rings concluding the period, Shredder and Tyler Perry take over a lab as Whitney Houston croans,

“Who knows what miracle you can achieve,
When you believe somehow you will
You will when you believe”

And the moment is perfect.

 

 

 

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