Is ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ right for kids?

Okay “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle” (TMNT) fans, by now you’ve heard rumors that the latest Michael Bay film is pretty disappointing. Deep down, you know said rumors are true but there’s still that little kid in you that wants to know for yourself. And on top of that, you’re wondering if maybe the little ones in your life will love it, even if it’s not a film that necessarily connects with older audiences.

Truth be told, your curiosity is not misplaced. I personally disliked the movie, but I’ve wondered if my 10-year-old self would’ve been more forgiving.

So let’s get to the question you really want to know the answer to: “Is ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ appropriate for kids?”

Sexiness

Megan Fox is leading the charge in this latest installment, and up until this point, her rise to stardom has had little to do with her acting abilities. It’s reasonable to wonder then, especially with Bay’s name attached to the movie, if a large part of this film will be dedicated to Fox posing in slow motion flirt shots while side characters make jokes objectifying her and women in general.

There’s definitely some of that. Maybe not as much posing as we’ve seen in the past, but there are continual comments and gags about her appearance. In general though, this gets pretty mild marks in the sexiness department.

Language

This is another category where, because of Bay’s involvement, you might be expecting more inappropriate language than what ultimately made the film. That’s not to say there’s no language here; in fact, fellow Flix Junkie Curtis Linnell noted as we walked out of the screening, that characters used the “butt” word a lot. Only, he didn’t mean “butt.” He meant the other word.

Still, if you divide the list of questionable words into categories of mild and very offensive, I don’t believe you hear any of the very offensive words. I personally would save this for the 9-and-up crowd, but depending on individual maturity levels, I can see that changing a year or two in either direction.

Violence

This probably won’t surprise anyone, but it’s the action sequences keeping TMNT from a relatively safe PG rating.

In this latest turtle film, the four ninja brothers carry a dangerous, physical weight to them that we’ve never seen in a TMNT movie before. As members of the Foot clan are thrown across parking lots and into walls, there’s a stylized power on display that of course young kids will want to emulate in their latest imaginary battles. Also, if you sympathized with parents from the 90’s who thought the Turtles should keep their weapons attached to their shell, you’ll probably find the slow motion footage of bo staffs smashing into henchmen faces a bit concerning.

Overall

As noted above, this is a movie that could’ve embraced a more questionable, grown-up tone. However, director Jonathan Liebesman keeps things relatively safe for the 9-and-up crowd while still displaying enough ninja action to keep the visuals interesting.

Will I be taking my kids to see this opening weekend? No. But that has more to do with the movie being terrible than me actually being a good parent.

If curiosity is just too much for you, or you simply want to introduce your youngsters to some of the characters you loved as a kid, I’d suggest seeing it before you take anyone under the age of eight. Otherwise, you’ll probably be more concerned with the kids in your life emulating action sequences than you will be sorry about the content they’ve been exposed to.

Travis has been covering movie news, film reviews and live events for Deseret News and KSL.com since 2010 and co-hosts the FlicksJunkies podcast. You can contact Travis at tspoppleton@gmail.com.

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