a hero’s power, and you begin to wonder how many kids out there are surreptitiously feeding their pet terrapins battery-acid pizza in the hope they’ll grow into Donatello.

Whatever the reasons. turtlemania has gripped the collective imagination of a sizeable portion of the world‘s youth market. with ‘market‘ being the operative word. When the film opened in the USA on 21 March this year, it made $25.4 million in a weekend. the biggest-ever opening for an independent film, and the fourth biggest opening ofall time. ‘The most amazing gross in the modern history of the business‘ was how one industry insider described it, in unashamedly fiscal language.

It’s a distinctly unremarkable film, made on a low budget and not managing to hide the fact. The best that can be said for it is that the costumes (made at Jim Henson’s Creature Workshop) are quite appealing. The plot attempts to arouse your sympathies for the turtles’ surrogate dad, a bedraggled giant rat, Splinter, who’s a long-winded old git at the best oftimes, while the wacky banter of the turtles is so feeble it sounds like it was written by the My Two Dads scriptwriters during a commercial break. Director Steve Barron is seriously deluded when he claims, ‘We made this movie for both kids and adults. The tone is unique. Strange creatures living in a contemporary setting. It touches the subconscious ofmost people.‘ Sorry. Steve, but it missed mine. As these things go, the film’s a reasonable enough piece of tosh, but lacks the spark of wit or emotion that the best kids’ movies require.

Like any cult. turtles have come in fora hefty degree offlak. Stories, some apocryphal. some factual. have circulated, of adolescents attacking people in ‘turtle gangs‘ and trying out imitation ninja attacks. The fears were sufficient for the BBC to change the title ofthe children‘s cartoon series to the less intimidating Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles. Meanwhile, the film’s sequel. Secret Of The 002e, promises worried parents less violence and none ofthose sinister Japanese weapons. In Britain, press attacks are coming from both ends of the political spectrum. The News Of The World ran a story about North London drug dealers selling acid tabs with turtle pictures on them, while City Limits published an analysis of the Turtle phenomenon that seemed to hold poor old Michaelangelo and the gang responsible for most of the problems of western capitalism. Meanwhile the US media is packed full of stories about children wandering sewers dressed in halfshells, and maltreating pet terrapins (I knew it).

Ifthe hype is getting out of hand, so too is the anti-hype. Turtles are not the only culprits for uncontrolled consumerism. The parents who argued that the TV cartoon series (cheaply made and poorly animated) was just a free ad for the range of toys. were voicing a complaint that could be levelled at most children’s shows, from He-Man to She-Ra. Children’s crazes are by their nature short-lived (whatever happened to the Wombles?) and who‘s to bet that in eighteen months‘ time, Cockney wide boys won‘t be desperately trying to flog offjob lots ofTurtle talcum powder? In the meantime the rest of us will just have to live with the thought that it’s going to be a green Christmas, and the cash tills will continue to ring out ‘Cowabunga‘ for some time yet. (Tom Lappin)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ( PG) has a wide Cinematic release from Friday 30 November.

L. /"H

W L0



] {551101102 \W‘J U U K0153 j?) a0) 727274

£8.11 tmuumail iljblfl‘: \VAv/amt’lkdl

a V


Vaug’jia‘xdl Essa:lqucfiijlqmitn

-r (08%! - _ )) , .7 ( 7 , Q Juxwaeit’sfs (\j ; J[,481§3C9))f’§3>

'l‘l'll.l".l’ll()Nl". ()4 1-221 5193 E

The 13323 (1 December 199013