While visually rough around the edges, sometimes sluggish in its plotting and marred by overtones of racism in its use of Oriental villains, the wacky live-action screen version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon characters [created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird] scores with its generally engaging tongue-in-cheek humor.
Supposedly mutated by radioactive goop, the turtles live in the sewers, eat pizza, dance to rock music, play Trivial Pursuit and casually toss around such words as ‘awesome’, ‘bodacious’ and ‘gnarly’.
The screenplay makes all four of the green guys seem like clones, differentiated mostly by their variegated colored headbands. The plot is nothing more than some nonsense about the turtles and a handful of human sidekicks trying to stop the Foot Clan from terrorizing NY streets.
A bit too much time is devoted to the peculiar romance of unbelievably funky TV newswoman Judith Hoag and her off-the-wall vigilante b.f. Elias Koteas, who join forces with the creatures and misunderstood j.d. Michael Turney.
The martial-arts setpieces are amusingly outlandish, with the screen populated by hordes of attackers whom the nonchalant, graceful turtles have little trouble vanquishing as they toss off streams of surfer-lingo wisecracks.