Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mutant Mayhem Director Talks Tone

By qaxio

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The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in Mutant Mayhem

Image: Paramount

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is a delight for many reasons: the energetic teens who voice the Turtles, its fun embrace of ‘90s culture, its unique animation style, and the way it both honors and advances TMNT lore. But the movie’s more than just a light-hearted nostalgic trip.

Speaking to the Hollywood Reporter, director Jeff Rowe explains how he consulted with his team—including the film’s co-writer and co-producer, Seth Rogen—on keeping things the right level of kid-friendly… with some very palpable danger along for the ride. They didn’t set out on a mission to “make the film dark,” but made sure that the story was always the main focus. “We were always trying to tell a story that felt true and emotionally honest, and in the opening of the film, there isn’t a joke in the first five minutes,” he said. “That felt narratively right. It felt like the right way to execute that was to not cram it full of jokes. We even had a couple jokes in there at one point and we were like, ‘We actually have to cut these out because they’re ruining the tone.’”

Another summer blockbuster featuring a particular array of reptiles helped them hit the tonal sweet spot they were aiming for. “Seth and I would talk about how much we loved Jurassic Park as kids, and we saw it when we were probably too young to see it. And the opening of that film is terrifying to a five-year-old, but it imprinted on me. It’s still one of my favorite films, and it’s because it took those chances. It’s because it felt like I was getting away with something as a kid by seeing it,” Rowe explained. “Seth said, ‘The great thing about Jurassic Park is that it’s a monster movie for kids. This should be a monster movie for kids.’ And then we started leaning into that more and not shying away from it.”

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is in theaters now, with a sequel and a Paramount+ series also in the works.

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