Also known as: Daddy’s Little Girl (working title) Release Date: April 14th, 1989 Directed by: Stan Dragoti Written by: Seth Winston, Michael J. Nathanson Music by: Alan Silvestri Cast: Tony Danza, Catherine Hicks, Ami Dolenz, Laura Mooney, Wallace Shawn, Derek McGrath, Lance Wilson-White, Dana Ashbrook, Matthew Perry, Dick O’Neil, Dustin Diamond, Oliver Muirhead, Todd Bridges, Robbie Rist
Weintraub Entertainment Group, Upstart Productions, Columbia Pictures, 90 Minutes
“Yeah, wow. Yale, perfect. At last, perfect. Home by 11, perfect. I, uh… wait a minute. Chapter 52. He’s too perfect!” – Doug Simpson
I kind of wish that this movie would’ve at least been a moderate hit, as it would’ve helped transition Tony Danza from a television megastar to a real player in motion pictures. I love Danza and I think he could’ve had a pretty solid comedic film career had he had the right projects to be a part of.
Now I’m not saying that this was a bad project, I actually like it and always have. However, I feel like this movie’s lack of success at the box office prematurely sealed Danza’s fate in the realm of being a comedic force in film.
This is an amusing movie and I like a lot of the people in it but the script did feel a bit weak and the jokes and gags weren’t all that memorable. I guess the reason I like it though is the general premise and because Danza felt perfect in the role of a single father dealing with his teen daughter first discovering boys.
Additionally, I thought Ami Dolenz was really good as the daughter and I always wished she had done more mainstream pictures instead of being one of the early ’90s queens of direct-to-VHS flicks.
I also enjoyed Dana Ashbrook and Matthew Perry in this as two different boyfriends of Dolenz’s character. I also got enjoyment out of Catherine Hicks’ performances, as well as Wallace Shawn, who plays the seedy radio show host that gets in Danza’s ear, pushing him down a parenting path that drives a wedge between himself and his daughter.
Overall, though, this is a goofy, amusing, lighthearted picture. It’s charming escapism and a pretty decent and fun way to waste an hour and a half.
Rating: 6/10 Pairs well with: other ’80s teen comedies and Tony Danza’s hit television show, Who’s the Boss?
Release Date: January 17th, 1986 Directed by: Sidney J. Furie Written by: Kevin Alyn Elders, Sidney J. Furie Music by: Basil Poledouris Cast: Louis Gossett Jr., Jason Gedrick, David Suchet, Larry B. Scott, Caroline Lagerfelt, Tim Thomerson, Shawnee Smith, Melora Hardin, Lance LeGault, Jerry Levine, Robbie Rist, Michael Bowen
“I wonder what a Cessna looks like splattered all over those rocks?” – Packer
This doesn’t survive on nostalgia points for me. Honestly, I didn’t even like this film as a kid. I mean, I enjoyed the last half hour, as that’s where the action comes in but everything leading up to that was really damn boring.
Seeing this now, and it has been at least thirty years, I was surprised that I wasn’t pulled into it a bit more as it features two teen actors from the time that I really liked: Larry B. Scott and Jerry Levine.
But the real problem with this movie is that it’s too damn long. I mean, this is nearly two full hours and only the last half hour is actually somewhat enjoyable. And to be honest, they could’ve lobbed 30 to 40 minutes off of this thing and no one would’ve noticed.
Additionally, even though the actual mission at the end is fairly fun, it’s full of flaws and errors that are distracting.
The main thing that sticks out is the editing. There are multiple moments in the movie where the video loop behind the pilots’ heads resets. So you’re looking at closeups of pilots in the cockpit talking and the background goes from a clouded sky to a quick jump of clear sky.
Plus, there are mistakes in how the action is edited that don’t make sense from a logistic and physics standpoint.
I think the thing that may irritate more than the shoddy editing is the models used for the planes, as every time one explodes, it is obviously a miniature and made of wood. Fighter jets don’t splinter like a balsa wood chair in a Chaplin movie. But I get it, it’s the ’80s, CGI didn’t exist like it does now and the film had a modest budget. But no one could call in a favor to one of the guys that worked on model making for the Star Wars or Star Trek films?
The acting is pretty bad too. And even though Louis Gossett Jr. has shown that he has chops, I think that it is this movie that actually wrecked his career. He went from An Officer and a Gentleman to this? But hey, at least it allowed him to have his own franchise, which he would then have to rely on over the course of three shitty sequels.
Seeing Iron Eagle now, I don’t hate it. It just would have been much better with a lot of stuff left on the cutting room floor and a bit more refinement in the film’s action packed climax.
I’m going to completely ignore the fact that the plot is stupid because this is the ’80s and it was escapism for kids, trying to capitalize off of the popularity of movies like Red Dawn. But in case you don’t know what the plot is, it’s about a decorated Colonel that helps a teenager steal an Air Force fighter plane to attack an enemy country in an effort to save the kid’s dad. Let that marinate for a minute.
So if I ever do watch this again, I’ll just skip to the finale and ignore the plot details.
Rating: 5.25/10 Pairs well with: probably its subpar sequels and other ’80s and ’90s teens movies that throw kids into war or combat like Red Dawn, The Rescue and Toy Soldiers.
With the upcoming release of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film, which is a reboot, I wanted to revisit the original film series. I hadn’t seen these movies since the 90s and I hadn’t seen the 2007 CGI sequel at all. I remember really liking the first two and finding the third one to be pretty boring. Maybe it was because it was missing their main antagonist, Shredder. Regardless of all that, here’s what I felt about these films now.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990):
Release Date: March 30th, 1990 Directed by: Steve Barron Written by: Todd W. Langen, Bobby Herbeck Based on:Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird Music by: John Du Prez Cast: Judith Hoag, Elias Koteas, Robbie Rist, Brian Tochi, Corey Feldman, Kevin Clash, Sam Rockwell, Scott Wolf (uncredited)
Golden Harvest, Limelight Entertainment, 888 Productions, Mirage Enterprises, Northshore Investments, New Line Cinema, 93 Minutes
“Damn.” – Raphael
This first film in the series was the best of the original trilogy. It was gritty, it was fun, it was action packed and it embodied everything that made the TMNT franchise unique and awesome. Seeing this in the theater as a 5th grader, blew my damn mind.
The turtle costumes were phenomenal, the facial animatronics were outstanding and the range of movement the martial artists had inside the suits was uncanny. The acting in this film, considering what it is, wasn’t bad. Elias Koteas as Casey Jones and Judith Hoag as April O’Neil were both really good. I cared about their characters and even their romance.
My favorite part in the whole film though, had to be Shredder. For a live-action movie based on a comic book, especially for the era, he looked fantastic and menacing. I can’t even imagine a better looking Shredder in a real world sense.
Splinter was also pretty great and Kevin Clash (most famous for playing Sesame Street‘s Elmo) provided him with a good voice that gave a sense of authority and respect to a character that is really just an animatronic rat.
The movie never stops once it gets going. It actually flies by pretty quickly and is well-paced. Props to the writers who made a really good script and to the director, who orchestrated how it all went down.
Look for a very young Sam Rockwell playing a thug in a few scenes.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991):
Release Date: March 22nd, 1991 Directed by: Michael Pressman Written by: Todd W. Langen Based on:Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird Music by: John Du Prez Cast: Paige Turco, David Warner, Ernie Reyes Jr., François Chau, Kevin Nash, Vanilla Ice, Robbie Rist, Brian Tochi, Kevin Clash, Frank Welker
Golden Harvest, Mirage Enterprises, Northshore Investments, New Line Cinema, 88 Minutes
“Go, ninja! Go, ninja! Go!” – Vanilla Ice
It didn’t take long for Golden Harvest and New Line Cinema to pop out a sequel. This movie came out less than a year before its predecessor. While it still turned out pretty well, you can feel that it is lacking in quality from the first film and that they didn’t prepare for it as well.
Also, the turtles use their weapons a lot less than the first movie because busybody assholes thought that the darker and more violent tone of the previous film was too much for kids to handle. The lack of darker tone, hurt this movie.
Unfortunately, neither Judith Hoag or Elias Koteas returned for this film. I’m not sure why but due to the film being rushed out, one could assume that it had to do with scheduling conflicts. The April O’Neil character is still in the film but was recast with Paige Turco.
I do still like this movie but I miss the atmosphere of the first one. These aren’t films that you should take too seriously, but this one got a bit too campy and the script just wasn’t as good.
The edition of David Warner to the cast, an actor I have always enjoyed, as well as Ernie Reyes Jr., who is still the best kid martial artist I have ever seen, was a treat. Vanilla Ice also shows up to give us the greatest ninja-themed rap song of all-time.
Shredder was better looking in this film, as they retrofitted his helmet and made the sharp edges on it look like bad ass buzzsaw blades. However, when he became Super Shredder, he was just ridiculous and completely pointless as he killed himself in about ten seconds. Although it was cool that wrestling legend Kevin Nash was the guy in the Super Shredder suit.
The evil mutants that they made to combat the Turtles, were horrible. They should’ve done what kids were familiar with and gave us the famous Turtle villains Bebop and Rocksteady. Instead, we got Tokka and Rahzar. Stupid names for stupid characters.
All bullshit aside, I still really enjoy this film for what it is but it lacks in a lot of areas compared to the first.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (1993):
Release Date: March 19th, 1993 Directed by: Stuart Gillard Written by: Stuart Gillard Based on:Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird Music by: John Du Prez Cast: Paige Turco, Elias Koteas, Vivian Wu, Sab Shimono, Stuart Wilson, Brian Tochi, Robbie Rist, Corey Feldman
Golden Harvest, Clearwater Holdings, New Line Cinema, 96 Minutes
“I think I swallowed a frog. I hope it wasn’t an ancestor.” – Donatello
Some people call this film Turtles In Time but that was the name of a TMNT video game. This film plot-wise, is completely unrelated to that game but they do share a time travel element.
I remember watching this just once as a kid and that was on video, as I didn’t even bother to see it in the theater. I just found the idea of the Turtles traveling back to feudal Japan to not be a story worthy enough to carry a film. It seemed like a bad one-off episode of the cartoon and at least those episodes are just twenty minutes.
Watching it now, over twenty years later, I still don’t like the film. It is boring, soulless and flat. There is really nothing interesting or redeeming about the film. Elias Koteas shows back up, after skipping out on the second film, but he is essentially wasted.
The villain is some evil British guy who comes off like an unfunny poor man’s version of Rik Mayall. Had he actually been played by Rik Mayall and humorously, the film may have been a tad bit better. But even Rik Mayall couldn’t have saved it.
The Turtles were also redesigned for this movie and they look like shit. They added a bunch of spots to them, gave them bigger eyes that looked incredibly fake and their animatronics were clunky at best.
After all that time to heal and accept this for what it is, I still hate this film.
Release Date: March 17th, 2007 (Grauman’s Chinese Theatre premiere) Directed by: Kevin Munroe Written by: Kevin Munroe Based on:Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird Music by: Klaus Badelt Cast: Chris Evans, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Mako, Kevin Smith, Patrick Stewart, Ziyi Zhang, Laurence Fishburne
Imagi Animation Studios, Warner Bros., 87 Minutes
“Duuuude.” – Michelangelo
This film is considered the fourth in the series and takes place quite some time after the others. It is also the first (and only) to be CGI instead of live-action.
This movie is pretty good. There is a lot story-wise that makes this one the best written of the series. There is a whole subplot about Raphael being a masked vigilante hero on a motorcycle, which would be great as its own standalone movie.
Also, Casey Jones is back in a much more expanded role, as he teams up with Raphael on their vigilante adventures. Although I wish Elias Koteas would’ve voiced Casey Jones, Chris Evans did a solid job.
There is another cool subplot about Leonardo living and training in solitude in Central America, which added a lot of depth to his character and his struggle as a leader.
As for the CGI, it was very well done. It wasn’t Pixar or DreamWorks level but it held its own and it was fluid and worked great with the action sequences of the film. The only thing that seemed off was that the voices were different. For instance, Splinter seemed like an entirely different character and this kind of gets in the way of consistency with the live action films. However, the Laurence Fishburne narration was fantastic.
Having now watched the original trilogy again and this film, I’d rank this as second behind the original.