December 11, 2023

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem writers Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and Jeff Rowe said it was important that their turtles spoke like real teenagers. That meant brushing up on the latest crazes, like TikTok.

“We’re trying to make these ninja turtles sound like you and talk like you and reference the same TikTok videos that you watch that I’ve never seen that I don’t understand at all,” Rogen said. “I don’t know who the Ocky guy is but apparently the Ocky guy is hilarious. Tell him you love bacon egg and cheese and that’s a whole thing.”

Though the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics have been adapted as a weekday afternoon TV show, live-action movies in the ‘90s and 2010s, and a 2007 animated movie, Mutant Mayhem is the first incarnation to cast teenagers. The production recorded Micah Abbey, Sharon Brown Jr., Nicolas Cantu and Brady Noon simultaneously and allowed them to improvise.

“Some of the best jokes, we don’t understand,” Goldberg said. “One of our main theories was that to record all of them together would make it way better because that’s how teens are. They don’t wait for people to finish their sentences. It had a domino effect. It affected the animation, how we framed it, how many people were in the frame.”

Rowe said the animation style was designed to look like it was drawn by teenagers too.

“We looked at the way you draw when you’re a teenager before you have formal art training,” said Rowe, who also co-directed with Kyler Spears. “It’s so impassioned. You have no idea what you’re doing but that doesn’t stop you. It was this beautiful metaphor for these characters. They have big goals and ambitions that just haven’t been checked against the world yet.”

RELATED: Cowabunga! ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Franchise Reignited With $1 Billion-Plus Global Retail Sales For 2023

Rogen reminded the crowd that every frame of animation is carefully produced and considered. So a lot of thought went into some of the movie’s seemingly random aesthetics.

“The idea of making it look like there’s mistakes being made, it’s kind of off-handed at times,” Rogen said. “The idea of this teenage enthusiasm that can’t contain itself and doesn’t stay in the lines was really exciting and thematically an interesting way to tie in the look and the sound and the music, the themes in the movie, the plot.”

Rogen allowed one grown-up element into Mutant Mayhem: The soundtrack includes more ‘90s and classic rock than any current artists.

“It’s all music from when we were kids,” Rogen said. “It’s no music that young people today listen to. We did a neat trick where now there’s a bunch of kids listening to Tribe Called Quest.”

Check back Monday for the panel video.

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