Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Coming Out of Their Shells Tour (1990): This actually happened

“There’s no need to be buggin’ when it’s a Ninja Turtle you’re huggin’!”

Justin’s rating: And yet the great Vanilla Ice Ninja Rap was still a year away

Justin’s review: For the younger generations who weren’t alive/potty trained in the late ’80s and early ’90s, you’ll just have to take our word for it that the pop culture world went bananas for these four giant reptiles and their surprisingly non-lethal weapons. Turtlemania was so strong at this time, peaking with the movie, cartoon series, video games, breakfast cereal, and… a musical tour sponsored by (naturally) Pizza Hut? That resulted in an album that went triple platinum?

Yes, this was an actual thing that happened, and because it was recorded and released as a movie, we have eternal proof of its existence. I give to you Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Coming Out of Their Shells Tour.

As the concert starts, the four turtles arrive on stage and barely let us have time to process their new look before launching into their first song, “Out of Our Shells.” The outfits aren’t terrible — not as bad as, say, the third movie — and are clearly designed to let the performers move as much as possible. They’re also a weird confluence of ’80s and ’90s. You’ve got leg warmers (!), jackets tied around waists, denim vests, knee pads, and big arm bands with a letter to denote which turtle is which, just in case lil’ Jimmy got confused.

Oh, and I should point out that none of them are actually wearing their shells. Reportedly, this was to keep from killing the performers from heatstroke. Hence, the name of the tour.

Obviously, none of these turtles are actually singing or playing their instrument — but boy are they throwing the lamest of lame jokes and overenthusiastic statements at top volume. The audience, which I assume is mostly kids and their very reluctant parents, doesn’t seem as vocally enthusiastically as their sheer numbers would warrant. You can see everyone trying to figure out what this is — and if it’s good enough to actually like.

In between the songs, which range from “Huh, my ear didn’t USED to bleed” to “This is why the grunge movement was born,” there are little snippets of a story. Shredder appears to suck all of the music out of the world with Baxter’s machine. Shredder’s outfit in particular must be discussed, because they altered his iconic mouthpiece to be much lower so that the performer’s mouth could be seen. The effect is that he looks like he has a silver beard.

But then again, we have what feels like a forty-minute-long song about Splinter skipping rocks, so anything to distract us is welcome.

Because none of the turtles brought their weapons — I mean, why would you when it’s an essential part of your outfit? — they’re going to have to defeat Shredder with inspirational street jams. Shredder hates music (although he raps, so figure that out), and the rest of this production writes itself.

The Coming Out of Their Shells Tour wasn’t good, not even by TMNT standards, but it was such an event that it ended up becoming a legend that’s remained in pop culture memory far longer than most things from 1990. It’s just a good thing this happened before the internet arrived to tear it apart, is all I’m saying.

Didja notice?

  • This introductory montage of setting up for a music show is not as captivating as the filmmakers hoped it would be
  • “You can touch people!” Thanks, Splinter.
  • Music is more powerful than nunchucks
  • Pizza delivery guys as backup dancers for “Pizza Power”
  • Splinter looks like an adorable river otter! But his mouth barely moves!
  • Splinter, your song about skipping stones is just awful
  • “That’s as straight-up as it gets!” “WORD!”
  • And now for a bunch of video clips of people surfing
  • The… dancing Hawaiian alligators?
  • And now we’re riffing on Jeopardy
  • “What do you do when you can’t think of a rhyme? Personally, it’s ending time.”
  • Did they just make a Simpsons reference?
  • And a “Bo knows” joke?
  • The reporter is so, so, so hackneyed
  • “You’re a bunch of WEENIES!”
  • Shredder telling the kids to sit back in their seats. He sounds like a dad more than a villain.

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