Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze cleaned itself up for the kids. After the perfectly faithful Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles released in 1990, several whiny parents complained about the supposed violence. A mere 1 year later, The Secret of the Ooze toned its action down to a juvenile level. Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Donatello still have their signature weapons, but they barely use them. Instead they fight with toys, combat cold cuts, and their fists. It’s annoying, but the sequel was still a major guilty pleasure when I was a kid. Despite the small gap, two of the Turtles have new voices, Casey Jones is gone, and April O’Neil is recast. Paige Turco is even less convincing as the intrepid reporter friend to the Turtles.
We enter a pizza obsessed New York where the Turtles easily best a gang of criminals. Unfortunately, another annoying kid tags along in the form of martial arts pizza deliverer Keno. The Turtles and Master Splinter look even better the second time around. Thanks to the late Jim Henson’s flawless creature work. The Turtles are staying with April thanks to the remaining Foot Clan knowing their hideout in the sewer. Their banter may be sillier, but it’s just as funny as the first movie. Leo is still the determined leader, Raph of course does things his way, Mikey is a joke machine, and Donnie actually shows off his intelligence this time around. He hacks a computer and is eager to know the origin of the ooze. Splinter reveals the TGRI (TCRI in the comics) canister to them and a generic professor is shown to be responsible for the ooze.
Shredder emerges from the junkyard with plans to take revenge on his Turtle foes. He kidnaps the professor and uses his ooze to mutant a set of vicious animals. You’d think they’d be cartoon favorites Bebop & Rocksteady, but instead they’re the extremely lame snapping turtle and wolf Tokka & Rahzar. Keno is only important when Raph has him infiltrate the Foot Clan before being kidnapped himself. The climax is ridiculous for a number of reasons. First for the embarrassing use of the catchy Vanilla Ice song “Ninja Rap” and second for the mutated Super Shredder. What should have been an awesome final fight, ended with Shredder going out like a punk crushed by a bridge. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze earns its “Cowabunga!,” but only for it’s few enjoyable highlights.