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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze
1992 - PG - Mins.
Director: Michael Pressman
Starring: Francois Chau, Paige Turco, David Warner, Ernie Reyes Jr., Vanilla Ice
Review by: John Ulmer
I saw "The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Secret of the Ooze" when I was, oh, say, eight years old, and I absolutely loved it. A lot more than the first one. And now as a somewhat older individual I am afraid to return to the film. I fear I won't enjoy it as much as I originally did - because Lord knows I barely liked "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" at all the second/third/fourth time(s) around.

It's extremely poor filmmaking at its best (or worst), and fails to deliver any type of greatness such as "Batman" or "Spider-Man" did to their long-awaiting fans. In fact, there wasn't time for the fans of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" to wait--they slopped up a film as soon as they could after the toys sold like Pokemon cards did three years ago come Christmas.

The first film was a complete merchandising scam to cash-in on the kid-friendly franchise; this one even more so, seeing it took them only but a year to cough up another technically poor film.

The plot? Ha! Well, I guess it does have one: The Pizza-Chomping Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles discover a secret "ooze" that transformed them into what they are (hence the oh-so-clever title of the film). I don't recall there being much of a plot other than that - they just have to protect or find the ooze, I really can't remember. If this were a more important film I'd take the time to look up and find the plot outline but let's be honest: Who cares?

People who liked the first will love this one. On a level of filmmaking it stands as one of the worst ever--inept directing, amateurish acting, and horrible scriptwriting--but in terms of "cheesiness" (perhaps literally) and affection it rates strongly. I just got off giving the first "Turtles" movie a 2.5/5 because I revisited it not too long ago and found it unbearably pathetic and boring, while yet at the same time strangely intriguing; it evokes nostalgia of childhood. I still remember owning all the little toy turtles--men show off cars and boys show off dolls. They're both toys, so to speak.

But I still find the first film a tad bit too boring and cheesy. I was scrolling through the IMDb entry for "The Secret of the Ooze" earlier today. It has an average user rating of 4.4 out of 10 stars. With all my heart I can honestly say it deserves it, if not less. But I went through the message boards and came across posts by people 18 years old and over who say that they used to play with the toys in their bathtubs and absolutely loved the series as kids, and even still do simply for the nostalgia and not really the technical achievement. Any film that has Vanilla Ice come on stage towards the end and start singing a song about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (which results in 80s/early 90s-style dancing including head-spinning) is destined to have some sort of fond familiarity years from now. It's an embarrassment for all the kids who loved watching it ten years ago; when they show it to their kids years from now it will be like when your parents used to show you photos and videos of their era which embarrassed you more than them--it's kind of scary to think that someday you will show this to your kids, and you'll be so senile by then the embarrassment you experienced looking back at it in your twenties will have completely vanquished.

And so it brought back memories for me, too, and I realized that grading this film ten years ago as a film critic I would have given it what it deserves--a 0-star rating--but now, ten years after its release, I recognize it as a nostalgia-trigger; it is the element connected to the nostalgia; it channels it and unleashes the memories. To rate this film based solely upon its technical achievements, merits and accomplishments as a film would be tragic. "The Secret of the Ooze" is lucky--if this film didn't give old memories back to me I'd slap it with a 0 faster than you can scream "Incoming 0!" And while I freely admit that ten years ago it was created merely to gleam money from children, nowadays those very children who were ripped off realize they were and still love the series for what it is and what it does for them--restoring old memories. This movie is all about memories and nostalgia. If humans had no feelings this would never have made it to DVD.

I have no idea how to go about rating this film. I liked it as a kid, sure, but now? I reflect upon it with a sense of being cheated by the film studios--and I don't like that. But then I remembered that I never particularly liked the original very much when I was younger, and I did like this one when I was younger, so perhaps I still would enjoy it for what it is: A celebration of mediocrity, greedy business executives and big green turtles!

Cowabunga, dudes!
Movie Guru Rating
An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant.
  4.5 out of 5 stars

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