On the 5th Day of Christmas… “We Wish You a Turtle Christmas” (review)

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Everyone loves the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and everybody adores a Christmas special, right? So what’s not to love about a Ninja Turtles Christmas special? Well, before you scamper over to Amazon and order We Wish You a Turtle Christmas, why not check out an honest review from quite possibly the biggest TMNT fan in the blogosphere (hey, I’m a certified Ninja Turtles fan on Twitter so it has to be official).

1994’s We Wish You a Turtle Christmas is a direct to video release, which is usually synonymous with adult entertainment or craptastic. As this obviously falls into the kid-friendly category, you may assume that it stinks worse than the Turtles’ sewer dwelling. Truthfully it may not be quite as radical as the 1987 cartoon, but that’s tough to top. Clocking in at 25 minutes, the musical contains 7 tracks. The action kicks off with “We’re the Turtles.” It’s a lost 80’s relic that simply introduces the Turtles. “We’re the Turtles” doesn’t really explain TMNT lore however, so there’s clearly an assumption of audience familiarity.

After this quick intro the Christmas tunes begin. First up is “Deck the Halls,” which features a reggae twist. Why the Turtles have fake Brooklyn and Jamacian accents isn’t really clear. Lyrically, it’s inventive and references Rocksteady and Bebop as well as Splinter and the Shredder. Though “Deck the Halls” may not be the best Christmas jingle you’ve heard, the fact that the Ninja Turtles are singing makes it arguably the most creative.

Since We Wish You a Turtle Christmas is technically a musical film, there is a plot, though calling it anything further would be generous. As the narrative goes, it’s the night before Christmas and all through the sewers none of the Turtles bought a present for their Sensi. Yeah, the story arc is pretty basic but this isn’t about the plot: we’re all here for the caroling.

“Up from the Sewer” might sound like an “Up on the Rooftop” parody, but it’s actually a rough approximation of “Over the River and Through the Woods.” Like the other songs on the album, it’s fairly short. In between tracks there are small scenes such as small children banging on oil drums. They’re surprisingly cool with the dancing Ninja Turtles. I’d have probably asked what the shell happened to my mutant heroes. Nowhere in the classic cartoon series did they burst into holiday melodies. Well, advancing the story they sing “Gotta Get a Gift” where they brainstorm possible presents for Splinter.

One of the highlights of We Wish You a Turtle Christmas is Raphael’s operatic solo. Honestly, his impressive vocal talents are surprising considering the low-budget nature of the production. Never fear however, his comical tune quickly transitions into a corny “Wrap Rap.” While it may be in the same vein as Run DMC’sChristmas in Hollis,” the lyrics may not be up to DMC par. Then again, for a project not readily related to the 1987 show or any of the live-action movies, the “Wrap Rap” is kinda hilarious. The horns and drums lend it a classic late 80’s, early 90’s feel. The true gem however is a “12 Days of Christmas” where Splinter offers a rundown of the presents purchased by his Turtles. From the list it appears they opted for gifts they’d want as well.

Naturally the entire ordeal culminates with “We Wish You a Turtle Christmas.” They can’t help but wish not only a Turtle Christmas and Happy New Year but pizza with cheese as well. Thanks, Turtles. With the short track list and relatively quick run-time, it’s a pretty funny album, and entertaining Christmas special particularly for 80’s and 90’s kids who grew up with these four heroes in a half-shell. Whether it’s worth owning is up to you. My recommendation? Put it on as background music and have a laugh. But keep in mind that We Wish You a Turtle Christmas is really cheesy, so much so that if it were pizza the Turtles would devour it in seconds. That being said, there’s not much cheerier than a TMNT Christmas. Cowabunga faithful Pophissers!

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